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Flaw in T. Phillips "Digital is not photography" argument



 
 
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  #1  
Old October 16th 04, 08:33 PM
David Nebenzahl
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Posts: n/a
Default Flaw in T. Phillips "Digital is not photography" argument

Leaving aside any of the philosophical and semantic aspects of his argument,
there's one glaring error in his argument. He asserts that because digital
formats change (true) that digital images made now will become unreadable in
the future.

Now, if one is discussing images made on physical media (film), there *is* the
distinct possibility that the image will be rendered unusable through time
because of physical degradation of the image. (Witness movies on nitrate stock
and color negatives or slides with unstable dyes.)

And in the case of digital media, there is always the possibility that the
image will become unreadable because of *physical* degradation of the media
(tape, magnetic disc, optical disc, etc.)

However, assuming that the *physical media* remains intact, it is very, very
unlikely that any digitally-recorded image will ever become unreadable in the
future.

I do know something about this, having worked for a computer media conversion
and duplication company for 13 years. In that one small company alone, there
exists the ability to read many obsolete digital formats (meaning both the
equuipment and the software to decipher the data and deliver it in a usable
form): specifically, 9-track tape (remember the old movies with the computers
with the spinning tape drives?) and floppy disks, including the old 8" monsters.

I'm confident that even data on paper tape could be read; someone, somewhere,
has a paper-tape reader connected to his S-100 system (running CP/M), or some
other moldy oldie. And if not, a reader could pretty easily be cobbled together.

The point is that humanity doesn't collectively forget its own obsolete
recording formats, just because something new comes along. Sure, the old
formats fall into disuse and become difficult to use, but not impossible.

Why, in this very house, I can right now play 78 rpm records if I like, or 45s
even. I can also read all of my old 5-1/4" floppies on my computer.

I'd like someone to try to name a data storage format (either physical medium
or data format) that they think cannot be read today.


--
Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a
really easy way: stop participating in it.

- Noam Chomsky

  #2  
Old October 16th 04, 09:51 PM
Richard Knoppow
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default


"David Nebenzahl" wrote in message
...
Leaving aside any of the philosophical and semantic
aspects of his argument, there's one glaring error in his
argument. He asserts that because digital formats change
(true) that digital images made now will become unreadable
in the future.

Now, if one is discussing images made on physical media
(film), there *is* the distinct possibility that the image
will be rendered unusable through time because of physical
degradation of the image. (Witness movies on nitrate stock
and color negatives or slides with unstable dyes.)

And in the case of digital media, there is always the
possibility that the image will become unreadable because
of *physical* degradation of the media (tape, magnetic
disc, optical disc, etc.)

However, assuming that the *physical media* remains
intact, it is very, very unlikely that any
digitally-recorded image will ever become unreadable in
the future.

I do know something about this, having worked for a
computer media conversion and duplication company for 13
years. In that one small company alone, there exists the
ability to read many obsolete digital formats (meaning
both the equuipment and the software to decipher the data
and deliver it in a usable form): specifically, 9-track
tape (remember the old movies with the computers with the
spinning tape drives?) and floppy disks, including the old
8" monsters.

I'm confident that even data on paper tape could be read;
someone, somewhere, has a paper-tape reader connected to
his S-100 system (running CP/M), or some other moldy
oldie. And if not, a reader could pretty easily be cobbled
together.

The point is that humanity doesn't collectively forget its
own obsolete recording formats, just because something new
comes along. Sure, the old formats fall into disuse and
become difficult to use, but not impossible.

Why, in this very house, I can right now play 78 rpm
records if I like, or 45s even. I can also read all of my
old 5-1/4" floppies on my computer.

I'd like someone to try to name a data storage format
(either physical medium or data format) that they think
cannot be read today.


The oldest media you are dealing with is probably the 9
track data recordings. How old are they? probably not more
than about forty years, if that. In order to read them you
need to have the transport, heads that match the format, and
know what the format is. This is quite different from
"reading" still photographs, which requires no equipment
other than the eye, even for negatives. Motion pictures are
more difficult if one requires reproducing the motion but
the subject matter is also visiblel to the eye with no help
(other than perhaps a magnifyer). Also viewer and projector
technology has not changed fundamentally in over a century
and is still used.
More difficult will be the recovery of data from formats
as common as floppy discs. It will probably be possible but
will require the construction of suitable reproducers. While
a floppy drive is very cheap now it won't be when they are
no longer made and must be constructed as a single specialty
item.
The fact is that recovery of archived material on
photographic film requires little specialized equipment
while digital data will always require a lot of specialized
equipment.
It is difficult to predict the future of technology.
Usually, predictions are based on extrapolating from current
technology but there is no way to predict a "break through"
based on new scientific discovery. Science and technology
are different in a very fundamental way: science is the
discovery of natural laws or principles; technology is the
application of known laws or principles. It is also possible
that computer technology will eventually reach some sort of
equilibrium. It is still a new art (IMHO) which means it is
changeing rapidly, but that rate of change may itself change
in the future. Here again is an unpredictible factor because
we don't know what discoveries may be made which may
accelerate change.
Certainly digital archiving will become more reliable in
the future because it has to in order to be useful.
Other forms of electronic storage than digital have also
suffered from rapid change in technology. When I started in
the TV business 2 inch segmented scan video tape recorders
were common. Now they are found only in specialty dub houses
for the purpose of recovering material recorded on that
format. The example of a 78 disc is trivial. Cylinder
recordings are perhaps a more apt example of old technology
which yields recoverable data but cylinder recordings were
never used for long and are comparitively few against disc
recordings.
Now, having said all this basically I disagree with the
original premise that electonic images are not photography.
They obviously are despite any argument about longevity.


--
---
Richard Knoppow
Los Angeles, CA, USA



  #3  
Old October 17th 04, 12:00 AM
David Nebenzahl
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

On 10/16/2004 1:51 PM Richard Knoppow spake thus:

"David Nebenzahl" wrote in message
...
Leaving aside any of the philosophical and semantic
aspects of his argument, there's one glaring error in his
argument. He asserts that because digital formats change
(true) that digital images made now will become unreadable
in the future.


[...]

However, assuming that the *physical media* remains
intact, it is very, very unlikely that any
digitally-recorded image will ever become unreadable in
the future.


The oldest media you are dealing with is probably the 9
track data recordings. How old are they? probably not more
than about forty years, if that. In order to read them you
need to have the transport, heads that match the format, and
know what the format is. This is quite different from
"reading" still photographs, which requires no equipment
other than the eye, even for negatives. Motion pictures are
more difficult if one requires reproducing the motion but
the subject matter is also visiblel to the eye with no help
(other than perhaps a magnifyer). Also viewer and projector
technology has not changed fundamentally in over a century
and is still used.
More difficult will be the recovery of data from formats
as common as floppy discs. It will probably be possible but
will require the construction of suitable reproducers. While
a floppy drive is very cheap now it won't be when they are
no longer made and must be constructed as a single specialty
item.
The fact is that recovery of archived material on
photographic film requires little specialized equipment
while digital data will always require a lot of specialized
equipment.


[more good stuff snipped]

Everything you say is so; my point was simply that it will undoubtedly be
possible to read digital images, even from obsolete media and formats, in the
future. You pointed out that it may be difficult to do so, which is true. But
it will still be possile.


--
Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a
really easy way: stop participating in it.

- Noam Chomsky

  #4  
Old October 17th 04, 12:00 AM
David Nebenzahl
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

On 10/16/2004 1:51 PM Richard Knoppow spake thus:

"David Nebenzahl" wrote in message
...
Leaving aside any of the philosophical and semantic
aspects of his argument, there's one glaring error in his
argument. He asserts that because digital formats change
(true) that digital images made now will become unreadable
in the future.


[...]

However, assuming that the *physical media* remains
intact, it is very, very unlikely that any
digitally-recorded image will ever become unreadable in
the future.


The oldest media you are dealing with is probably the 9
track data recordings. How old are they? probably not more
than about forty years, if that. In order to read them you
need to have the transport, heads that match the format, and
know what the format is. This is quite different from
"reading" still photographs, which requires no equipment
other than the eye, even for negatives. Motion pictures are
more difficult if one requires reproducing the motion but
the subject matter is also visiblel to the eye with no help
(other than perhaps a magnifyer). Also viewer and projector
technology has not changed fundamentally in over a century
and is still used.
More difficult will be the recovery of data from formats
as common as floppy discs. It will probably be possible but
will require the construction of suitable reproducers. While
a floppy drive is very cheap now it won't be when they are
no longer made and must be constructed as a single specialty
item.
The fact is that recovery of archived material on
photographic film requires little specialized equipment
while digital data will always require a lot of specialized
equipment.


[more good stuff snipped]

Everything you say is so; my point was simply that it will undoubtedly be
possible to read digital images, even from obsolete media and formats, in the
future. You pointed out that it may be difficult to do so, which is true. But
it will still be possile.


--
Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a
really easy way: stop participating in it.

- Noam Chomsky

  #5  
Old October 17th 04, 03:49 AM
Stacey
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

David Nebenzahl wrote:

On 10/16/2004 1:51 PM Richard Knoppow spake thus:


The fact is that recovery of archived material on
photographic film requires little specialized equipment
while digital data will always require a lot of specialized
equipment.


[more good stuff snipped]

Everything you say is so; my point was simply that it will undoubtedly be
possible to read digital images, even from obsolete media and formats, in
the future. You pointed out that it may be difficult to do so, which is
true. But it will still be possile.




Sure but if it's going to cost hundreds of bucks per image to recover them,
how many will be recovered?

BTW I have some paper tapes from a 1970's wang machine, know someone who can
read them for the same cost as looking at the photo's I took at the same
time? :-)
--

Stacey
  #6  
Old October 17th 04, 03:49 AM
Stacey
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

David Nebenzahl wrote:

On 10/16/2004 1:51 PM Richard Knoppow spake thus:


The fact is that recovery of archived material on
photographic film requires little specialized equipment
while digital data will always require a lot of specialized
equipment.


[more good stuff snipped]

Everything you say is so; my point was simply that it will undoubtedly be
possible to read digital images, even from obsolete media and formats, in
the future. You pointed out that it may be difficult to do so, which is
true. But it will still be possile.




Sure but if it's going to cost hundreds of bucks per image to recover them,
how many will be recovered?

BTW I have some paper tapes from a 1970's wang machine, know someone who can
read them for the same cost as looking at the photo's I took at the same
time? :-)
--

Stacey
  #7  
Old October 17th 04, 10:08 AM
Tom Phillips
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

The question is, David, why you are behaving like a troll
and cross posting this out of context when the relevant and
original thread for this subject was posted (by me) only in
rec.photo.darkroom.

Anyone who wants to read my reply should read it there,
since I'm not about to carry on the same discussion
over multiple nsgs. Guess some people simply have too
much time on their hands...


David Nebenzahl wrote:

Leaving aside any of the philosophical and semantic aspects of his argument,
there's one glaring error in his argument. He asserts that because digital
formats change (true) that digital images made now will become unreadable in
the future.

Now, if one is discussing images made on physical media (film), there *is* the
distinct possibility that the image will be rendered unusable through time
because of physical degradation of the image. (Witness movies on nitrate stock
and color negatives or slides with unstable dyes.)

And in the case of digital media, there is always the possibility that the
image will become unreadable because of *physical* degradation of the media
(tape, magnetic disc, optical disc, etc.)

However, assuming that the *physical media* remains intact, it is very, very
unlikely that any digitally-recorded image will ever become unreadable in the
future.

I do know something about this, having worked for a computer media conversion
and duplication company for 13 years. In that one small company alone, there
exists the ability to read many obsolete digital formats (meaning both the
equuipment and the software to decipher the data and deliver it in a usable
form): specifically, 9-track tape (remember the old movies with the computers
with the spinning tape drives?) and floppy disks, including the old 8" monsters.

I'm confident that even data on paper tape could be read; someone, somewhere,
has a paper-tape reader connected to his S-100 system (running CP/M), or some
other moldy oldie. And if not, a reader could pretty easily be cobbled together.

The point is that humanity doesn't collectively forget its own obsolete
recording formats, just because something new comes along. Sure, the old
formats fall into disuse and become difficult to use, but not impossible.

Why, in this very house, I can right now play 78 rpm records if I like, or 45s
even. I can also read all of my old 5-1/4" floppies on my computer.

I'd like someone to try to name a data storage format (either physical medium
or data format) that they think cannot be read today.

--
Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a
really easy way: stop participating in it.

- Noam Chomsky

  #8  
Old October 17th 04, 10:08 AM
Tom Phillips
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

The question is, David, why you are behaving like a troll
and cross posting this out of context when the relevant and
original thread for this subject was posted (by me) only in
rec.photo.darkroom.

Anyone who wants to read my reply should read it there,
since I'm not about to carry on the same discussion
over multiple nsgs. Guess some people simply have too
much time on their hands...


David Nebenzahl wrote:

Leaving aside any of the philosophical and semantic aspects of his argument,
there's one glaring error in his argument. He asserts that because digital
formats change (true) that digital images made now will become unreadable in
the future.

Now, if one is discussing images made on physical media (film), there *is* the
distinct possibility that the image will be rendered unusable through time
because of physical degradation of the image. (Witness movies on nitrate stock
and color negatives or slides with unstable dyes.)

And in the case of digital media, there is always the possibility that the
image will become unreadable because of *physical* degradation of the media
(tape, magnetic disc, optical disc, etc.)

However, assuming that the *physical media* remains intact, it is very, very
unlikely that any digitally-recorded image will ever become unreadable in the
future.

I do know something about this, having worked for a computer media conversion
and duplication company for 13 years. In that one small company alone, there
exists the ability to read many obsolete digital formats (meaning both the
equuipment and the software to decipher the data and deliver it in a usable
form): specifically, 9-track tape (remember the old movies with the computers
with the spinning tape drives?) and floppy disks, including the old 8" monsters.

I'm confident that even data on paper tape could be read; someone, somewhere,
has a paper-tape reader connected to his S-100 system (running CP/M), or some
other moldy oldie. And if not, a reader could pretty easily be cobbled together.

The point is that humanity doesn't collectively forget its own obsolete
recording formats, just because something new comes along. Sure, the old
formats fall into disuse and become difficult to use, but not impossible.

Why, in this very house, I can right now play 78 rpm records if I like, or 45s
even. I can also read all of my old 5-1/4" floppies on my computer.

I'd like someone to try to name a data storage format (either physical medium
or data format) that they think cannot be read today.

--
Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a
really easy way: stop participating in it.

- Noam Chomsky

  #9  
Old October 17th 04, 10:22 AM
Tom Phillips
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default



Richard Knoppow wrote:

recordings.
Now, having said all this basically I disagree with the
original premise that electonic images are not photography.
They obviously are despite any argument about longevity.



They obviously are not, Richard, since

1. the process are different and produce different results.

2. Digital silicon sensors do not and cannot produce a
photograph. What they do produce is a voltage based on the
photoelectric effect. This is then regenerated into digital
signals that are then used to output reproductions of those
signals. At no time during this process is there an optical
image nor any photograph. A photograph is an image produce by
the direct action of light. Digital does not do this nor can
it. The physics don't allow it.

3. The ISO standard states definitively digital still cameras
produce a signal that _represents_ still pictures, not actual
pictures.

As I've pointed out in my posts in rec.photo.darkroom (now
being cross posted and the discussion deliberately taken out
of context...), people need to look at the processes to
determine what digital is vs. what photography is. Looking
at the end result is misleading, since in our society the
words photo and photographic have come to idiomatically mean
any image we see. But as we all well know calendars, though
we call them photos/photographs, are not. They are offset
reproductions. Simialrly paintings are pictures, but they are
not photographs. Digital produces pictures and reproductions,
but there is no original photograph created by digital imaging.
  #10  
Old October 17th 04, 10:22 AM
Tom Phillips
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default



Richard Knoppow wrote:

recordings.
Now, having said all this basically I disagree with the
original premise that electonic images are not photography.
They obviously are despite any argument about longevity.



They obviously are not, Richard, since

1. the process are different and produce different results.

2. Digital silicon sensors do not and cannot produce a
photograph. What they do produce is a voltage based on the
photoelectric effect. This is then regenerated into digital
signals that are then used to output reproductions of those
signals. At no time during this process is there an optical
image nor any photograph. A photograph is an image produce by
the direct action of light. Digital does not do this nor can
it. The physics don't allow it.

3. The ISO standard states definitively digital still cameras
produce a signal that _represents_ still pictures, not actual
pictures.

As I've pointed out in my posts in rec.photo.darkroom (now
being cross posted and the discussion deliberately taken out
of context...), people need to look at the processes to
determine what digital is vs. what photography is. Looking
at the end result is misleading, since in our society the
words photo and photographic have come to idiomatically mean
any image we see. But as we all well know calendars, though
we call them photos/photographs, are not. They are offset
reproductions. Simialrly paintings are pictures, but they are
not photographs. Digital produces pictures and reproductions,
but there is no original photograph created by digital imaging.
 




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