Keeping Records

August 13, 2011 at 9:23 am | Posted in Making History, Nature | 5 Comments
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On the beach

My husband and I enjoyed a quiet drive to our favourite beach today. We both have health problems, but this beach is a place where we can relax and enjoy its beauty. The sun was hidden behind various banks of clouds for most of the day, but it was still a beautiful winter’s day inEastern Australia.

We had packed our lunch – cheese and pickle sandwiches and orange juice – and we sat on the sand back from the water to eat it. There were surfers out beyond the breakers and occasional walkers along the beach, but it was particularly fun to watch the waves.

As one roller came in, it met the wave going back out. Because the beach shelves steeply there and is somewhat curved, where the two lots of water meet becomes a real clash of energies. They were opposite sides of a huge zipper – two huge pieces of fabric being pulled together and joining up to become one.

The loveliest thing about that union was that, as they united, it was as if a torpedo shot along the union, sending up a jet of water that changed speed according to how quickly the zipper closed. I didn’t have my camera with me right then, so I missed getting a photo.

After lunch, with the importunate seagulls disappointed at us for leaving no scraps, we set off for a slow, meandering walk along the beach. We took lots of photos – the rock walls back from the beach; the meagre remnants of the coal rail line that ran from the old mine to the wharf; tracks and patterns in the sand; shells, waves.

I didn’t realised until I downloaded them later that I had taken seventy-nine photos! How different it is nowadays to as near in the past as twenty years. Back then, we were reluctant to take many photos because it was so expensive to have them developed and printed. You waited until just the right moment presented itself, and missed most of the good ones.

And yet, I think about how we use photographs today. We probably have fewer printed photos around us than we did then – certainly not the cherished albums that recorded, sometimes too formally, the stages in our families’ lives.

Now, our photos languish on our hard drives, or on CDs or DVDs. Some of them make an appearance on social media sites we belong to, and some are sent via email to family and friends who may be interested. But what will become of them if something happens to the electronic gear that is storing them? What if there is major solar activity that destroys our electronic communications? And what if we haven’t printed at least the good photos?

I have been intending to sort and print those that I’ve taken since I first got a digital camera in 1994. But I haven’t done many yet; usually just a few, when I want them for a particular reason. I look around and I see how much of our history, our everyday life, is recorded digitally.

I believe that this current generation could have fewer records of its existence that any generation that existed before 1800. This is simply because so much of the record is digital, and it can all be destroyed in an instant, much more easily than the printed books and records that exist all over the world.

Perhaps I had better get on with printing those photographs that I want to keep before it is too late.


© Linda Visman 13th August 2011


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