Upon discovering the 120 year old object in their grandparents' attic, most people today would be hard-pressed to play back a recording made on a wax cylinder of the late 1800s. What will people do just 50 years from now with an optical disk or magnetic hard drive? Over time, we have recorded our memories in many ways: letters, post cards, photographs, movies, audio and video recordings are a few examples. In earlier days, interpreting those recordings was independent of the technology used to create them – you could hold and view a hard copy document in your hand. How will future generations deal with those post cards, letters to the family, and photographs that have now been replaced by "Word documents", email, and digital images on the computer? While professional and mass-portrait labs recognize the importance of hard copy images, the word needs to spread from there. The end consumer in particular needs to become aware of long-term storage issues that relate to the preservation of the data behind digital documents including photographic images. Longerterm issues beyond routine backup and migration of data need to be considered, and preservation via human-readable hardcopy images is a key option. This paper provides an update on preservation strategies for the consumer and suggestions for the professional imaging laboratories to communicate these strategies to the consumer. While the familiar advice to "make a hard copy" provides a solid foundation, we go beyond this recommendation, with the intent to raise consumer awareness of the need to create a long-term preservation plan for their most treasured images and the data behind them.
Joseph E. Labarca, "Preservation of Photographic Images for Future Generations: New Opportunities for Prints and Photo Books" in Proc. Int'l Symp.on Technologies for Digital Photo Fulfillment, 2012, pp 17 - 22, https://doi.org/10.2352/ISSN.2169-4672.2012.3.0.47