Commercialism in technology

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by cliveh, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    When digital first emerged, for years I thought it was a wonderful addition to film, giving greater scope and possibilities of image manipulation and artistic realisation. Then sometime around 2002 it suddenly seemed to be high jacked by marketing people to the exclusion of film. Would others agree?
     
  2. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member

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    Since I make my living primarily in marketing and advertising, I would point out that this is nothing special or unique. As a matter of fact, for my money it probably more more correctly looked at in reverse because usually the marketing always follows the market.
     
  3. Maris

    Maris Member

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    Commercialism rules over art in terms of volume and activity in most places at most times. Pictures showing what things look like are universally powerful in attracting attention, modifying thought, and maybe turning a dollar. People have always wanted pictures but getting them was difficult.

    In the old days there were only paintings. Paintings were slow to produce, skill intensive, and expensive. People didn't really want paintings, they wanted pictures, but paintings were all that was available.
    The invention of photography changed that. Commerce ditched paintings and adopted photographs. But photographs were still somewhat effortful to produce and still cost money. Again, pictures was what was desired and photographs were the least nasty form available at the time. Digital picture-making is now more facile and cheaper than photography and it is currently the preferred choice for generating pictures. Unfortunately digital still takes some work so it in turn will be superceded by an easier cheaper way of getting pictures into people's heads. Maybe that will be by WiFi brain implants or telepathy.

    The old media of painting, photography, and digital will continue but not as a way of showing what bits of the external world look like. Rather they will serve as a vehicle for transferring the state of mind of a creative artist to the mind of a receptive viewer; art not commerce.
     
  4. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    Gee, I guess movable type just set us all on the road to ruin.
     
  5. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    This is my 2 cents worth. Yes advertising can give messages on what to consume, ie creating desire for a product or a lifestyle. But the history of photographic technology for the masses it's faster and cheaper. I think digital photography wins out in that area. I don't think marketers hijacked digital in exclusion of film. We are consumer of images. If there's a way of producing something faster and cheaper, the marketers will use it. Advertising photography is for the most part is shot digitally for "budget" reasons. It's natural because even if a photographer shot film, they'll still scan it for advertising anyway. For good or bad, analog photography is becoming a fine art medium like etching.
     
  6. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    ...analog photography is becoming a fine art medium like etching.

    Not quite yet. Before that, I'm thinking expensive, irksome, and in some instances not worth the trouble.
     
  7. zsas

    zsas Member

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    Outstanding analysis Maris!

     
  8. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

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    Why again are you a member of this here forum? The only thing irksome in the discussion were your replies.
     
  9. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    Because I'm not buying the earth is flat in light of the evidence. There's life left in film. I'm disagreeing with a point that seems to have slipped by you.
     
  10. Maris

    Maris Member

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    A very apt observation! In the old days there was writing but what people really wanted was text. Writing was a slow, vulnerable to error, and expensive way of getting text. The scriptoria of the dark and middle ages were the intellectual sweat-shops of their era. Moveable type enabled printing and the industrial scale production of cheap error-free text. Of course printing still involves labour and materials so it's no wonder that it is being replaced by screen text and eBooks. Again, it's text that commerce wants, not print.

    Now actual writing is confined to shopping lists, artistic calligraphy, and sacred works like the Torah. Even text isn't everything.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 28, 2011
  11. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    As long as digital has been part of publishing, it's been a wonderful addition to film. scanners, pagemaker, laser printers, early 90's tech like iris printers being used for artistic purposes, film recorders, dye sub printers, it's been a long line of commercial products.

    2002 brought us the affordable DSLR as one more change. They were affordable because they were meant to be built in large quantities and had to be marketed as such. I was among the first in line for a Nikon d100 when it came out. I bought it not as a replacement for film, but a useful and creative tool. I've used DSLRs for many things film is impractical for, and for some things instead of film when either film or digital would the job just fine.
     
  12. spacer

    spacer Member

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    While the market is what promotes the new technology, it's also what saves the old.
    Who would create art if there were no demand? I mean, you can't steal from folks until the end of eternity to
    produce that which nobody wants, so in the end, there must be a demand, if only from hobbyists and the like.

    A surprising amount of old tech survives in the hobbyist realm, though, and if times got so tough that humanity
    lost some of its technological foothold, I'm pretty sure there are folks who could step up and ease some of that old
    tech up into the foreground again.
     
  13. Hikari

    Hikari Member

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    These marketeers are only giving us what we want...
     
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  15. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I disagree, the function of marketing is to create demand for products which the public didn't previously know existed in many cases, and also make them so dissatisfied with perfectly good products they already own to want to "update" them to keeps the wheels of industry turning.
     
  16. JerryWo

    JerryWo Subscriber

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    I'm with CGW.

    BUT I love cameras and film - I make my own prints in a make-shift darkroom (aka the hall bathroom) and I do it for the same reason I make my own beer, grind my own telescope mirrors, build my own radios, roast my own coffee and (even) make my own little sailboat. I do it because it gets me back to the roots of these various endeavors. When Photoshop lists the "Burn" or "dodge" tool, I know what that means! It's very satisfying to spend an evening in the darkroom, making a handful of prints. Sometimes I do question myself ("I could hit the print button and make superb prints on the computer!"), but the results and the process are very gratifying.

    I shoot tons of digital - my wife and I shot almost 3,000 photos on our last vacation. We printed the best and made a superb album. I'm quite happy with feet planted in both worlds and I readily acknowledge that film is tougher to master - that's pretty much why digital has swept the mass market. The average Joe could care less about all the nuances of this film hobby that fascinate us.

    I really enjoy reading the posts on APUG!

    Jerry
     
  17. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    That is the only thing that really changed... as well as greater resolution. People want fast and good and easy and fool-proof, that is what was the market. Oh... and immediate feedbackl wtihout the cost and hassle of Polaroid products. Despite our mutual love of film, that market (and the quest for small cameras) seems to prevail and be quite healthy.
     
  18. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    BTW, commercialism isn't a bad thing. It is the underlaying reason for inventing new technologies, and improving older technologoies too.
     
  19. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I don't think it's quite that simple. I think there are people who are, by nature, inventors. They like creating "better mousetraps". There are also people who like to find ways to make money.

    Probably the best business partnerships are when the two get together. Apple in the early days is a perfect example. Woz was the inventor and Jobs the marketer.

    When we have people who ONLY are in it for the money we get an form of rampant capitalism, much like we have now, where marketeers CREATE a demand and the products may often be junk. These are the products that leave a bad taste in people's mouths because they know they have been burned.

    So what we have then is too many marketeers and not enough inventors.

    How this can relate to photography is that we end up with too much whiz bang and not enough real art. Buying the newest toy doesn't necessarily make you better, just faster. If you're good, that's a good thing maybe, if you're lousy, you just churn out more crap, faster.
     
  20. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    How true. I agree completely.
     
  21. BradleyK

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    Well stated, sir! (+1)
     
  22. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    To give an example of the gulf being developed in photographic understanding by this rampant commercialism: - Some time ago, I was demonstrating a pinhole camera to a group of students and one of them said “that will never work Clive, it’s got no batteries”. I was lost for words. Other comments I get are “I found an old camera; do you think it will work”? In other words if it isn’t the latest thing, it’s inferior. It annoys me that camera functions are given more emphasis than seeing.
     
  23. Moopheus

    Moopheus Member

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    Error-free? Typesetting and printing have never been error free. Cold-type typesetting was more of a sweatshop operation than any scriptorium; it usually involved armies of "apprentices" (i.e., unpaid child labor). And for 100 years after Gutenberg, wealthy patrons kept the scriptoria in business by insisting that only hand-copied books were "real" books. It was the emerging middle classes--growing ranks of merchants with new wealth--that drove the demand for printed books.
     
  24. Rudeofus

    Rudeofus Subscriber

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    Which answers why the big camera makers were so fond of digital technology: why would they sell you a camera once in ten years and then watch you hand over your money to Kodak, Fuji and Ilford from then on if they could sell you a new camera every few years, which means all your photo money goes to them? Combine this with the "old camera == bad camera" meme and there's a lot of money to be made. And let's face it: that is what marketing is for.
     
  25. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Of course it isn't always that simple, but it often is. Much of the technology we enjoy (including many of the advances in film technology) are the result of inventions not for invention sake, but invention to be marketed one way or the other. A lot of the technology we enjoy was developed for government use, initially, using government financial sponsorship - in other words, to be marketed to government buyers and users. Later much of it gets "commercialized" to be sold to folks like you and me. GPS is one example, and there are many others. Other funding sources for inventions are derived from corporate profit -- mostly so it can be sold to folks like you and me. There are still some folks still inventing in their garages but I'll bet the lions share of inventions are governemnt or corporate funded.

    Anyway, this is really an "anti-digital" discussion and is not restricted to just cameras. I, too, object to 'throw-away' electronics and the rate of change that ensures that folks like you and me are always buying replacement equipment. Mostly, though, the real enemy should be the masses who have this odd and unusal craving for instant gratification. Gotta have it now and gotta have the best and gotta have more & better than the Joneses.
     
  26. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I hear that too. But instead of "inferior" I have always interpreted their wonderment as, "it's decrepit and archaic".