A pang of nostalgia is felt when one considers the evolution of the camera. Gone are the days where a jar of hard-earned pennies was cracked open to buy ONE precious roll of camera film. The ensuing months were defined by a harsh selection process, only those golden moments were admitted to the red carpet roll, an exclusive VIP list devoted to the ‘top shots’. The result? Memories, locked in time, to be placed in a photo album and left to collect dust as the years progressed.
One of the greatest ongoing evolutions of today’s convergent society is the shift from locked to generative platforms. Locked platforms, just like the cameras that used film, could be compared to an autocratic system. Producers dictated how, where, and when the platform could be used and with what limitations.
When we consider the capabilities of modern cameras, it’s easy to see the dramatic change in this ideology.
Smart cameras, just like the smart phone, have evolved to be “bigger than the sum of their parts”, facilitating instant editing and global sharing of those ‘Kodak moments’. The camera has become a generative platform, empowering users by allowing active engagement.
Furthermore, a democratic technological society has been created as consumers are able to mould the platform to suit their individual needs.
For example, Twitter’s original purpose was to simply share “the momentous and the mundane”, as Evan William’s (co-founder) points out in Ted Talks. Unforseen were its further uses in business, politics and news broadcasting that evolved in reaction to consumer needs. Users also shaped their own way of replying to each other, inventing the integral @ symbol. In the same way Pinterest, initially an image sharing social network, now accommodates marketing, educational, political and charitable practices as consumers ‘pin’ relevant material from around the web to form boards tailored to their personal needs.
These new generative platforms are flexible and adaptable, allowing individual personalisation and, as seen with smart cameras, constant connectivity.
However, constant connectivity has transported the image from an exclusive red carpet into a sweatshop of mass production. As Clay Shirky points out in an interview on The Communicators, we are “constantly online”- 3, 000 photos are uploaded to Facebook every second. Has the shift to generative platforms reduced the overall quality of content or just made it harder to find? Perhaps it is this vast increase in content that has catalysed the creation of platforms such as Pinterest in an attempt to navigate the chaos of the internet. Within this chaos, the nostalgic simplicity of the old camera can be oddly comforting.
Picture sourced from http://blog.lafraise.com/en/tag/the-evolution-of-camera/