As far as I know there was a similar discussion when 120 film hit the market and people started using cheap and easy to use box cameras around the turn of the century. Then there was a discussion like this when 35mm film became widely popular after the 2nd World War. Then again when colour mass processing became incredibly cheap 20 years ago. Now it is with digital. All of these consecutive steps marked a revolution that suddenly gave a largely increased number of people the ability to take a largely increased amount of pictures. And every time this happened the established elite of photographers argued that this would dilute the craft because each of these steps came along with a highly increased output of images yet with a reduction in knowledge and effort needed to produce them. Like in political history there has always been a conservative elite that aimed at the prevention or at least moderation of change.

If there is really a - maybe only perceived - decline in quality now, I do not blame digital for this. I really think it is the Internet that is responsible. Im sure there has always been a huge amount of badly focussed, composed and exposed photos but until around the year 2000 they usually rested in some drawer and nobody ever got to see them. I assume if the Internet had not been invented it would still be the same today and these pictures would just rot on some hard drive instead. But since the web enables everyone to show them, we are suddenly confronted with them and get the impression that photography is in decline.