While there are by some estimates (note I use the term “estimates” as rest assured no one has undertaken a formal head count) over 7 billion people on earth so it’s not this. However what “this” is, is the number of pictures uploaded to Google+ in only its first 100 days of operation. It also goes without saying that this is an amazing number even compared to the a fore mentioned 7 billion [people] as it would (by stealing a bit of statistical liberty) mean that half of the worlds populous have taken then uploaded a picture to Google+.
The question is what does all this mean anthropologically as one could only guess how many “images” of the past exist if we were to add up all the photo sites, cloud storage and so on. However a key clue is the word “past” as an image is the closest thing we have to a time machine, as in the fraction of a second used to capture those fleeting rays of light, we are looking at the past. As what was “now” has just become “then” as we look backwards to what once was yet is no longer.
As we human animals tend to yearn for the ability to hold onto time as it slips through our fingers like sands passing in an hour glass. As unlike other species, we are the only one to realize an important fact in that the grains of sand as they are pulled downward by gravity are in fact finite in nature.
In turn as the grains fall one by one, we have also the urge to “share” our time as well as to assume a bystander role in others moments. As when we indulge in the photographs of others, we are stealing our way into their “moments” of time in a voyeuristic way.
As one also has to wonder just as with the growth of the world’s population is crowding out the natural resources, will the photograph (including video which is nothing more than a bunch of still images sown together) will also “crowd” out the digital landscape? As for each picture, there must be somewhere to store it as think about it back in the day (for those old enough to remember the “film” days) of the shoe box under grand mamma’s bed stuffed with aging photographs of uncle George (who she never liked) and Aunt Rose?
As how big would the box have to be to hold 3.4 billion photographs and growing? Also what is the value to hold that moment in time, as with everything there is a cost be it an actual one of paying a regular fee or implied as in “eyeball” time (ad sponsored). As we find cameras springing up in more and more places (I think my new toaster even has one) how many of these can we hold on to before we are buried alive in our memories…