WHILE AT A FAMILY FUNERAL, I saw a few things that made me realise the importance of making some of my digital items more tangible. A very interesting collection of family photos passed around a few tables for review. Anyone over the age of 50 enjoyed holding the old photos, feeling their edges and commenting about the settings in the shots. Those over-50s, many of them grandparents, had a more difficult time looking at camera phone images on the tiny screens. It made me think that I'm overdue converting some of my most popular family photos from digital to something more tangible. I also saw something after the funeral I'd never witnessed before. A retired ESB employee used his Nokia N95 to snap shots of the family photos that were being passed around. His technique was really good and he snapped dozens of high-resolution images of old and worn-out photos. He was converting the physical photos into digital. Then he planned to tag them into a photoset before printing the best of the lot as a series of 4x6 tangible images. I likened his N95 tabletop work to field rostrum camera work. He was actually scanning photos without using a scanner. Before I left the afternoon pub session, I saw a 16 GB memory stick fastened to his key ring. That reminded me I'm overdue for upgrading to a 16 gig stick myself. I'm sitting on top of a pile of abundant data, now shared on line with dozens of my brothers, first cousins and their families. There has to be a way for all of us to share our digital collections and to explore our family identities that way. From all the communities I've joined, I know the stream of digital activity that I share from multiple sources helps me define my communities of choice. These intangible lifestreams also define my roles in those different communities. Now it's time to convert some of those digital definitions to more tangible handheld objects.
Image from my Flickr photostream, originally shot in 1941 by my aunt on a high school field trip.