We are facing the greatest challenge to our social history since the dark ages. Photography has become the recorder of everything, it is the 'lingua franca' of this age. There is not a meal or birth or journey that is not over-photographed. And in this frenzy for photos we are building great haystacks of images like never before. The haystacks are huge and pretty and warm to roll around in but are built next to open fires and contain the odd needle or gem of a photograph - to suit my analogy.
When the supply of anything increases, it's immediate value decreases. But I am discussing a photo, an image taken at a time of the subjects' life that will never be repeated. Those needles have to be found in their haystacks before it is too late.
The industry leaders are doing very little to solve this problem. They want you to buy a new camera evey year, they want you to buy hard drives and subscribe to cloud services, they want you to share now, they are not thinking beyond the next sale. The "open fires" refers to the stability of hard drives, solid state media and CD/DVDs, they are fairly volatile to failure and obsolescence, 5 years is the advisable limit to trust them!
So here is the warning: nothing will be found unless we regularly care for it, there is no archival digital data storage device that is guaranteed to last a generation.
Over the next few months this series will explore metadata and how it will save today's photography for the future. So stay tuned for these bite sized explorations of a very powerful tool and participate in our vigilant watch over the technology of archiving.