Tag Archives: photos

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Welcome to the Digital Dark Ages: Movies and Books Get Deleted as Selfies Pile Up

          Historians and archivists call our times the “digital dark ages.” The name evokes the medieval period that followed the collapse of the Roman Empire, which led to a radical decline in the recorded history of the West for 1000 years. But don’t blame the Visigoths or the Vandals. The culprit is the ephemeral nature of digital recording devices. Remember all the stuff you stored on floppy discs, now lost forever? Over the last 25 years, we’ve seen big 8” floppies replaced by 5.25” medium replaced by little 3.5” floppies, Zip discs and CD-ROMs, external hard drives and now the Cloud — and let’s not forget memory sticks and also-rans like the DAT and Minidisc.

We’ll ignore the data lost in computer crashes.

Each transition has seen the loss of countless zillions of documents and images. The irony is that, even as we’re generating more records than any civilization ever, we’re destroying so much important stuff that future generations will hardly know we ever lived.

Google Vice President Vint Cerf recently mused about Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius Of Abraham Lincoln: “Such a book might not be possible to write about the people living today … the digital content such as emails that an author might need will have evaporated because nobody saved it, or it’s around but it’s not interpretable because it was created by software that’s 100 years old.”

I got to thinking about our civilizational priorities the other day, while managing the photos on my iPhone. Few of us realize it, but the default settings of electronic devices like a smartphone is to keep, rather than erase. Take a photo or video, and Apple wants to send it and save it to all the gadgets on your Apple Store account. If you’re like me (and in this respect, most people are), you take lot more photos than you delete. But even your “deleted” stuff isn’t really deleted — it’s merely moved to a “Deleted Photos” folder. And it lives in the Cloud, like, forever. To really really delete something, you have to double-triple-delete it. Most people don’t bother. So all those mundane iPhone photos — countless pics of your kid at the school concert, boarding passes, the image of the wine you mean to get more of — accumulates.

Partly due to my failure to edit crap like that, some experts a looming data capacity crisis of epic proportions.

Keeping everything is a phenomenon of the digital age. Analog photos were expensive to develop and print. So we took fewer of them. And we didn’t develop them all.

More irony: Even as we’re keeping triplicates of, let’s face it, zillions of documents and images we will never, ever look at again, digitalization is erasing cultural works of epic importance en masse.

Of the 80,000 to 90,000 films considered to be in print on DVD in the United States, only a small fraction have made the leap to streaming. For the most part, this is because companies like Netflix can’t or don’t want to buy the rights for movies whose copyright holders want to get real money. The result is, if you want to see such classics as “The Bicycle Thief” or “Marathon Man,” your only hope is to buy an old used DVD on eBay (assuming you still have a DVD player). Of course, each change of format has left films, many of them important, unavailable to cinephiles. Many great films never made it from VHS to DVD.

Format transitions are also murdering our musical and literary legacies.

When I peruse music streaming services like Apple Music, I’m surprised how many albums by my favorite bands available: sorry, Lords of the New Church. This isn’t new: music geeks hunt down rare 78s for old-timey music that never made it to 33-rpm record. Tons of tunes got lost in the move from vinyl to CD. Maybe it’s the stuff that I like to listen to, but it feels like format loss has been more devastating this time around, as music storage goes from physical to ethereal.

It’s easy to forget how many books aren’t making the jump, especially when corporations sell products like Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, which lets you read any of 600,000 titles for a fee. Many titles, including some by big-name authors like Philip Roth and John Updike, aren’t there.

In case you were wondering, there were 129 million books in the world as of 2010.

Subscribe to Kindle “Unlimited,” then, and you’ve got access to less than 0.5% of the world’s books. But don’t worry, you’ll always have those photos of the school play.

Until you get a new phone.

(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for ANewDomain.net and SkewedNews.net, is the author of “Snowden,” about the NSA whistleblower. His new book “Bernie” about Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, is now available for pre-order. Want to support independent journalism? You can subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)



AAEC Convention Photos, Pt. 1:
Posted by Mikhaela Reid

The Cartoonists With Attitude crew was out in full force at the 50th Anniversary Convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (of which organization Ted is Vice President) earlier this month. I had 200+ photos, which I’ve cut down quite a bit and divided into sets. Here’s the first bit (which you can also watch as a slideshow):

AAEC banquet afterparty

AAEC banquet afterparty: Brian McFadden, Masheka Wood, Mikhaela Reid, Ted Rall, Kate Salley Palmer

Brian McFadden makes a fist; Keith Knight picks his nose AAEC banquet afterpartyEngaged cartoonists Mikhaela Reid and Masheka Wood at the AAEC Banquet

Brian McFadden makes a fist; Keith Knight picks his nose at the AAEC banquet afterparty; Engaged cartoonists Mikhaela Reid and Masheka Wood at the AAEC banquet

Ted Rall and Tim Eagan at the AAEC Closing BanquetJP Trostle Vandalizes the Signage at the AAEC Hospitality Suite

Ted Rall and Tim Eagan at the AAEC banquet; JP Trostle Vandalizes the Signage at the AAEC Hospitality Suite

Joel Pett and Stephanie McMillanMatt Bors, Masheka Wood and Ben Smith at the AAEC banquetKeith Knight and Masheka Wood at the AAEC Banquet

Joel Pett and Stephanie McMillan; Matt Bors, Masheka Wood and August Pollak; Keith Knight and Masheka Wood

Cartoonists With Attitude Partial Group Photo at the AAEC Banquet

Cartoonists With Attitude Partial Group Photo at the AAEC Banquet (Back row L to R: Mikhaela Reid, Brian McFadden, August Pollak, Keith Knight, Ben Smith;
Front row L to R: Jen Sorensen, Matt Bors, Ruben Bolling)

Democratic Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich and wife Elizabeth Kucinich at the AAEC Banquet

Democratic Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich and wife Elizabeth Kucinich at the AAEC Banquet

As you can see, Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich was our banquet guest speaker. I have to admit that as much as I’ve been a big fan of Kucinich’s positions on pretty much everything, I was in such a hyped up mood (perhaps a result of sharing one small hotel suite with 5 other cartoonists for four days) that I didn’t really pay attention to his speech.

Coming up: coverage of AAEC and CWA panels and signings, etc.

Crossposted at The Boiling Point.

MOCCA festival pix: Cartoonists With Attitude, Alison Bechdel and more!
Posted by Mikhaela Reid

No good comics convention is complete without Ted Rall; still, we muddled through while Ted continued his Stan-Trek:

MOCCA 07: Ayo and Cartoonists With Attitude Masheka Wood, Brian McFadden and Mikhaela Reid

Ayo + Cartoonists With Attitude Masheka Wood, Brian McFadden and Mikhaela Reid

MOCCA 07: Fictional Character Alison Bechdel ("Fun Home") and Mikhaela Reid ("Boiling Point")MOCCA '07: Mikhaela Reid and Barry "Ampersand" Deutsch drawing each other faces!

Legendary Fun Home author and Dyke to Watch Out For Alison Bechdel and Mikhaela Reid; Mikhaela Reid and Barry “Ampersand” Deutsch drawing each other faces

MOCCA '07: Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me, 30 Days) with Attack of the 50-Foot Mikhaela!MOCCA 07: Masheka Wood and Frank ReynosoMOCCA 2007: On-the-spot commissioned birthday card front

Muckraking filmmaker Morgan Spurlock with his copy of Attack of the 50-Foot Mikhaela!; Masheka Wood and Frank Reynoso; cover of on-the-spot commissioned birthday card for a George-Bush-averse one-year-old

Cartoonists Masheka Wood and AyoTop Shelf 10th Anniversary Party: Brian McFadden, Keith Knight

Masheka Wood and Ayo; Brian McFadden and Keith Knight with free booze and food at the Top Shelf 10th Anniversary Party

Last year, the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art’s Art Festival was a low point for many of us alternative political cartoonists–we felt so alienated, disconnected and unloved and sold so few books that we decided to form the group Cartoonists With Attitude to help get more attention at conventions.

Apparently it worked. I’m happy to report that MOCCA this year was a whole other comics convention beast. All kinds of great comics readers, cool sales, and awe-inspiring cartoonists to hang out with, plus some cool comics discoveries. The tough part was keeping any of the money we earned and not immediately spending it on other comics.

The convention was also packed with alums from the Attitudeseries of books Ted edited for NBM: myself, Brian, Alison Bechdel, Barry Deutsch, Neil Swaab, R Stevens, Scott Bateman and others. Clearly, it’s all about the Attitude.

If you scroll through my whole MOCCA photoset, you’ll see I also got to chat with Hilary Price of “Rhymes With Orange” fame, who was attending her first comics convention to promote her book Reigning Cats and Dogs. Hilary is syndicated and popular for good reason.

More later on some of the cool comics I picked up at the event!