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analog eulogy

March 9, 2011

[Francis Fukuyama in WSJ] On Dec. 30, Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kan., stopped processing Kodachrome film and the world passed an important if little-heralded milestone: the end of Kodachrome, a beautifully saturated color transparency film that was immortalized by Paul Simon in his 1973 song (“Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away”). Kodak had long since ceased its manufacture and the lab shutdown was yet another stage in the slow death of chemical, film-based photography.

Visual and audio reproduction have undergone massive changes as their underlying technologies shifted from analog to digital over the past two decades. It’s clear that it is far more convenient to snap photos with a digital point-and-shoot or listen to music on an iPod. But whether the quality of images or music has improved is, however, a highly debatable proposition, one that is contested by legions of enthusiasts who have continued to cling to older technologies not out of Luddite resistance to change, but because they believe the shift to 1’s and 0’s is actually making things worse. (read)

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