I was having a conversation (via e-mail) with a friend/photographer in California, named Michael. It quickly grew from a personal discussion to something much more philosophical. It started on photography but ended up being about much larger issues.
It started, as many conversations among photographers do, on a question about computer software. Michael has been experimenting a lot with various HDR (High Dynamic Range) software programs. My impression of these programs is two fold. One, that they get better and better every month, and two, they are very complex and labor intensive.
Michael had been showing me his recent work so I know that the first point was true. When I commented on how complex I thought the process was, he walked me through his fairly straightforward workflow. I was pleasantly surprised by its simplicity. We agreed that it takes some attention to detail to do it right. We agreed that the biggest issue is storing (and carefully organizing) the various files.
I observed how, when it comes to organizing files, I am pretty good but something in me still prefers slides. I noted that editing slides is incredibly easy. There is nothing to boot-up and no disks to put into any machines. You look at them with your eyes (and/or a loupe/magnifier) then you decide.
Michael responded that digital technology was infinitely more efficient for storage and sorting (via metadata and keywords) than slides. I conceded the point but raised the idea that comfort with the tools we use is very important. Michael replied that though he works in the information technology industry, much of his most important note keeping and thinking was still done on pen and paper. He described his preferred type of pen and notebooks. Again, an issue of being comfortable with the tools he uses.
Now, before you think I am going to go off on my usual tangent about needing to know your cameras so well that you are in fact fully “comfortable with the tools you use,” relax, I was not going there. It is a good point, but if you read this blog regularly, you know that already.
My exchange of emails with Michael moved on to our respective daughters and how their generation is clearly more tech savvy than ever. Then I started thinking about the inevitable day, down the road, when I will come across a technology that I probably should learn, but will not. I may chose not to learn it or I may not be able to learn it, but I will inevitably “hit the wall” when it comes to learning new technologies.
We all know people who have already “hit the wall” when it comes to learning new technologies, including older members of my own family. They have generally adapted and learned the technologies involved with their Tivos and e-mail, for example, but their skills with digital photography, for example, are limited or non-existent.
I am pretty adaptable and enjoy learning new technologies. Still, I can just start to imagine what wild and weird technology will be sitting at the base of the “wall,” that I will eventually not be able to surmount. Will it be the beaming of folks around like in the Start Trek TV shows (and movies?)
Then, I was almost humbled thinking about what kind of technology will exist sixty or eighty years from now, when our teenage daughters inevitably “hit the wall” when it comes to learning new technologies. Part of me would love to know and part of me is scared to think of the possibilities.