For years and years my wife was the archivist, and primary documentary photographer of the household. When I was a kid it was my mom. Pre-digital it was all done on inexpensive point and shoot 35mm cameras and the prints were carefully stored away in photo albums. Those albums went on shelves and once in a while we would get them out after dinner and sit around the dining room table looking at pictures. In some strange way it was one of the ways we affirmed our relationships with friends and family. But digital has killed that.
When digital came along my wife was the early adopter in this house. She was using 1 and 3 megapixel point and shoot cameras while I was still stubbornly holding onto my K1000. She started learning and working with the early versions of Paint Shop Pro, cleaning up and enlarging pictures for anyone in the family. Her work was very, very good, especially considering the limited technology. Her biggest complaints were that those early digital cameras were heavy duty battery hogs. But eventually all that changed. The software and camera companies changed things so often and so fast that it just became impossible to keep up. After about the fifth or sixth upgrade my wife finally gave up. She still shoots a roll of 35mm film from time to time but she has turned most of the archiving over to me because my work keeps me linked to the computer. She hasn't touched her digital in years. I pulled the batteries a couple years ago as I was afraid they would corrode. I know that part of this is related to age. As you get older it seems harder and harder to learn new things. Even for me it seems that things are moving too fast, and my business requires that I stay connected and up-to-date.
I know that there are far more ways to share things today. I see Facebook, You Tube, and now Vimeo, and at one level it is all wonderful. You can find out so much in such a short time. These on-line social communities have become the new archivist for our brave new world, and hopefully everything will work out. But my grandchildren are missing out on that chance to sit around their dining room tables and learning about the past and future relationships that are important to their family. Instead it is all about 'Friends" that they never really seem to know. It makes me feel a bit sad. But I guess it is progress. In my parents day it was the family bible. In my day it was the photo album. Today it is the social networking sites on-line.
Progress continues whether we like it or not. The archivist is now a computer and a cloud. There are millions more images floating around out there in that cloud but I think we have lost some of the context that existed in that old Family Bible and our Photo Albums.