Friday, February 23, 2007

Not fade away...

We all know about planned obsolescence and how it drives consumer economies around the world. But does that mean that nothing is meant to last?

The cave paintings at Lascaux are around 20,000 years old. The first photographs are more than 180 years old, many in near perfect condition. The pages of Picasso's sketchbooks may be yellowing but they're still quite intact. So why is it if you print out a digital image on your home computer printer that it starts fading and turning wonky colors in a year (or less if there's any light in your house, god forbid...)?

So, you go to the store and instead of having an answer, they sell you these wicked expensive archival inks and papers with the assurance that these will last up to 70 years. Wow, a whole 70 years! Can you imagine if our artworks and documents throughout history had such a ridiculously short shelf life? 'You know honey, I'm told there was once something called a Bill of Rights, but you know, the archival inks faded and the backup disc is in a format that they don't make readers for anymore and the master file is corrupt,' bla, bla, bla...

If our records went back only 70 years, then today we'd be teaching our kids about a world that began in 1937. What demented beginnings those would be to teach.


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