Digital Natives/Digital Migrants

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by wheelie52, Oct 11, 2006.

  1. A friend of mine was talking technology and it's place in the corporate world,
    which is where he exists and brought up the subject of digital natives verses
    digital migrants. Digital natives are those who were born into the digital age
    and migrants are those who were not but have had to learn to adapt and cross
    over. He went on to give me a detailed explanation of why a lot of companies
    he works with and advises in France, are now reaping the benefits of being able
    to employ the natives in place of the migrants and how the process eventually
    becomes inevitable anyway!

    None of this means very much to me to be honest but it also applies to the
    photography field I'm sure. We are a mixture of digital migrants and natives.
    The digital camera has been around long enough now that there are a generation
    of people who know nothing else. I realise that there will always be
    individuals born into the digital age who will choose to use film as a
    medium ... the same people will quite likely have a healthy Bob Dylan
    collection in their music libraries!

    To see a teenager carting around a Leica M is rather akin to the same, choosing
    to wear flares and a corduroy jacket. I guess in reallity that person then
    becomes an analog migrant ... and they are definitely out there thankfully! I
    realise too that there is a group of people who will never migrate and will
    always be far more comfortable with the technology that they were born into.
  2. I think people in both camps are too caught up with the medium instead of the end result: pictures.

    Ansel loved the polaroid. Sure it had lots of limitations, but he used it for teaching, as he described in his autobiography. He of all people didn't idealized film, nor did he discount the possabilities that would come later in the future.

    I suspect if he was alive and healthy today, he would embrace digital...not to suggest that he would abandon film, but I suspect he'd see digital's qualities, conveniences, and the like.

    People take their medium of choice to over-the-top idealisms, discounting everything else. They propagate the other medium's short comings, and discount the other mediums true attributes.

    The answer to why this is is simple: Human nature. What we don't understand or percieve as threatening makes humans discount things.

    All the great things one can say about film are true. The same for digital.

    I hope that the community at large can get past the medium and get into making pictures. Some types of pictures are better served by film...others by digital. Too many pros shooting both with great success cannot all be wrong.
  3. You're making too much of this as far a photography is concerned. What matter is the
    photograph -- "image" if you wish -- and how it is made, digital or silver, or a combination
    through scanning, is completely irrrelevant.

  4. In what way is teenager carrying an M akin to the same wearing flares et.? Unless the individual is a poseur. The M still does what it was designed to do supremely well and it has not been superceded.
  5. The whole idea is foolish prejudice. I'm old enough to be a computer 'migrant' (I grew up with slide-rules), and all my computer skills are self-taught. Nevertheless - if I can say this without loss of modesty - at my workplace I'm one of the most computer literate, and one of the few able to programme.
  6. The point I was trying to make is that the future is going to be run by digital natives whether we like it or not and that is an undeniable fact! Narrowing the whole subject down to computers and cameras was a direction I mistakenly took because it seemed relevant to this forum. Digital technology encompasses many more facets of human existence now and does so more naturally for the generation that is the bulk of the population of the western world.

    I read somewhere today that the first readily available digital camera with 1.3 megapixels was produced some 25 years ago and cost $13000.00

    To some, the Leica M may still rule supreme and it does I agree ... and it's called the M8
  7. I don't think your friend knows what he's talking about. An old hand who grew up programming 8-bit micros is going to code rings around some kid whose parents bought him or her a PlayStation. So it is with photographers. Some photographers - digital and film - understand what they're doing and just shoot. Some - digital only - spend more time fiddling with their settings and having to check every shot on the screen, they don't know how to meter a scene and be confident of getting what they want exposed how they want then get the next shot, no hesitation. Film users learn that pretty quickly and pretty well, because they have to, and can easily transfer the skill to digital. Those who grew up taking instant review for granted are at a disadvantage, not the other way round.
  8. You've nailed it, Guy. It's not so much being trained what to do, but understanding what you want to do and what the equipment is actually doing.

    No offence, Keith, but it sounds to be a voguish business concept that's short on insight.
  9. I take issue with the basic premise of your friend's argument. I've never met anyone "born with" digital photographic knowledge; you still have to learn all this digital photo stuff from scratch, no matter when you were born.

    I learned photography before the dawning of the digital age. It made the migration into digital photography much easier, since I already had a firm foundation in the basic photographic principles and only had to learn the digital aspects. The only thing I had to struggle with were my own prejudices and preconceived notions of the film vs. digital thing. Once I got beyond that, the rest was easy. But, then, that could be said of just about anyone over the age of thirty; older folks tend to resist learning new things.

    On the other hand, I was trying to teach a friend's teenage son how to use his new DSLR and was surprised by how difficult the basic concepts of photography were to impart to someone who was only familiar with pushing buttons. In the end, everything I tried to teach him about the most basic traditional photographic principles (exposure, depth of field, composition, etc.) was met with a blank and impatient stare....he ended up using the thing in the auto mode, just like his mom's little digicam. And when it came to downloading the images into his computer, and trying to explain the basic editing processes, it was the same response: "I'll just stick with "auto levels/color/ looks cool just the way it is" and "what's RAW and why do I really need anything other than basic JPEG?". All he really wanted to do was e-mail pix of himself "dropping and hucking on his mountain bike" to his friends.

    Even at 17, he was already handicapped by his own rather limited knowledge of what he though he already knew. One can only hope that this kid, and others like him, will continue to learn the craft of photography and struggle with learning new things, just like the rest of us did thirty years ago.

    I've also met older people who were so deadset against learning anything new that it made me want to slap them silly; as if their brains had completely calcified when they turned thirty, and struggling with anything new just caused them too much discomfort. People like this have always existed, and it's not a generational thing.

    If you don't have the capacity to learn new things you'll be just as limited when the next big thing comes along. Corporations should realize this and choose people who have "learned how to learn", and not just hire kids familiar with the latest, fleeting technology. After all, what are they going to do with these folks when the next new thing comes them and hire a bunch of younger kids? Oh, right, I forgot...that's just what they'll do.
  10. Working in a large catalog studio I am always amused at the reaction of younger interns
    and assistants when the 8x10 Deardorff's come out for the occasional client who still
    demands film."What's with the old scool camera?". When limited to 2 polaroids and the
    shot has to be perfect the first time They tend to pay more attention and learn more about
    the basics of photography than thigs like file management and software quirks.
  11. I think the argument is mute. I became obsessed with photography when I was 10, and that
    was 46 years ago. And I do most shooting these days with digital SLR's (I'm a newspaper
    shooter). But, realistically, those of us who started in the analog world are slowly dieing
    dinosaurs. There is a future where the only film cameras people will see are in museums or
    musty trunks in one of our attics when we are gone. Despite that, there will still be many
    skilled photographers doing amazing work. I still look fondly at my old Speed Graphic that I
    display in my office; but, I haven't used it in years. Time moves on.
  12. This digital versus analog business is more of an artificial dichotomy if you ask me. But there is a tendancy for people to stick with certain things they knew and liked at a certain age and maybe feel alienated by newer things. Which is why lots of older people think that rap music sucks, while their parents probably couldn't stand Jimi Hendrix or rock music in general. It's the "Generation Gap" all over again!
  13. "No offence, Keith, but it sounds to be a voguish business concept that's short on insight"

    Fair comment Jonothan... but the individual who put this proposition to me of migrant verses native is an expert in his field in Paris and commands high fees for specialist advice to large corporations regarding their employment structuring. I had never heard the term before but was interested in his reasoning as to why natives are currently more successful, in his opinion, than migrants in the computer driven information based corporate world.

    By the reactions I have had here not a lot of people seem to agree that it has any relationship to the digital verses film debate. I suspected a parallel in certain areas but your reactions suggest not!

    I am suitably chastened guys. :)
  14. I'm particularly offended by "To see a teenager carting around a Leica M is rather akin to the same, choosing to wear flares and a corduroy jacket" <BR> <BR>

    That's just silly. This whole notion is silly.
  15. Yes, of course it's silly.
  16. Those of us who were forced to learn the basics (because our cameras had so few "frills") probably have a better grounding than someone who grew up with modern digitals or AF electronic cameras. But even we (or I anyway) have a tendency to put my brain in neutral when I'm using something that is at least willing to make all the decisions for me.

    For someone who has never really HAD to develop any thoughtful approach to photography, the fact that the auto features of the camera are so good might keep them from ever gaining a thorough understanding. But the ones who are really meant to be photographers will probably pick the information up over time. And those younger people will probably be more likely to absorb the digital side of the knowledge (photoshop technique, dealing with raw files, saving off images on the road, etc.). But only the ones really dedicated to becoming photographers will bother having any knowledge of what's going on under the automatic features.

    I know there are many people who are able to retain full creative contol even when using auto exposure and focus, but I find I have to really force myself to stay focused in that situation. I can relax a lot more when I'm using something like an M2 which doesn't allow any other mindset.

    If there is a barrier between the "migrants" and the "natives" I think it's the hard assumption the natives make that naturally digital is superior in every way and that anyone still using film must be retarded in some fundamental way. Perhaps when digitals were new, they had to endure the same reverse assumptions.
  17. Will carbon-based inkjet prints be more highly prized than RC B&W prints because of their archival qualities?
  18. In an ideal world the final print is all that matters, but collectors do not work in that ideal world - I therefore think that for a long time digital output will be regarded differently from "conventional - old neg/pos: output".

    The digital world affects everyone and for most at some time will cause heartache. The worry of being replaced by a machine is a real issue.
  19. I for one welcome our robot overlords.
  20. James, no shame in quoting The Simpsons, but at least give credit. ;-)
  21. Probably the fastest migration, only exceeded by the migration to thongs.
  22. I believe the Simpsons quote was something along the lines of "..welcome our ant overlords" or something like that. Hopefully we've now made this sufficiently off topic that the forum gods will delete this post. : )
  23. OK, James, but you're at least 'guilty' of writing using a "Kent Brockman" voice. ;-)
  24. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    It's amusing to watch people flail away at the print market without actually having any facts or information about it.

    It's worth mentioning that the assignment of value to art based on sale price is repugnant. It has nothing to do with the true value of the art to the people who appreciate it. It's easy to see this close up - just hang out in a gallery for a few hour when major clients are in. It's not about the art.

    What sells best in photographic prints are vintage prints. They sell better if the photographer is dead. It has nothing to do with uniqueness (unless it's the only print left and the negatives are gone) but with the nature of the market. Because of this, it is hard to measure the relative value of inkjet prints because they haven't been around long enough to hit the "vintage" category.

    It's worth noting that "archival" qualities are not necessarily a factor in the photographic print market. Moriyama's prints are RC and sell for high prices. It's interesting how high they sell for given the huge number of prints he has produced. But nobody suggests that they are worse than fibre prints in any way, at least when it comes to buying them.

    Some of the great prints are not very unique. This is most true when there is an outside printer - look at HCB's work or Avedon's, for example. I have seen two prints of an HCB photograph next to each other and there was no way to tell the difference without an extended analysis. There was certainly no concept of "unique" in either of the prints. Sloppy darkroom workers will produce prints that are noticeably different regularly. Great printers generally strive for identical prints. I know one printer who makes a "reference" print and re-photographs it.

    In terms of the "value" of inkjet prints, there are not a lot of examples yet of how they are accepted, but it is starting to be a big enough market that there are a few. Pedro Meyer's PS montages sell for more than his vintage fibre prints. This is interesting, but the work is radically different. More useful is what has happened with Lauren Greenfield's prints, which sell in the $5K range, at least the last time I looked. She went from film to digital (she shoots in digital now) without a drop in price. Her prints sell for the same now as they did before. I believe that they are chemical prints, but they are identical and made through a digital process. I don't know if she has started printing with inkjets for sale yet.

    It's worth more than a snappy line if you want to understand what is going on.
  25. When RC paper first hit the market in the late 70's we were told by Kodak and others that it wasn't as stable as fiber based prints. I've long suspected that they just didn't know how archival it was at that time. A lot of us used it for contact sheets, and it was ideal for getting out a fast reproduction print for publication. Newspapers loved the stuff. Now nearly thirty years later I have thousands of contact sheet and prints done on RC paper, and they look just fine, but Kodak couldn't promise that thirty years ago.
  26. Jeff is so right on all counts. I started out and remain pricipally a collector of photography, branching out into photographica as a sideline. The onus for archival preservation is on whoever does the displaying, whether it be gallery, museum or private party. The value of a print (or a painting for that matter) is determined almost exclusively by who the photographer or artist is, or better, as Jeff correctly said, "was".
  27. I made over a million dollars writing software. I never took a software class. I simply thought of an idea, bought a few books, drank green-tea till the sun came up, and after a million lines of code that failed, suddenly it all came together ... and my ideas made enough sense for several companies to invest in. am I a digital-native, or a digital-migrant? or am I simply someone with a vision, a passion, and the commitment to bring an idea into life? it doesn't matter, never did, if I wrote in C, C++, or Assembly language. the idea came to life ... as does a photograph with a creative mind behind it.
  28. "Some of the great prints are not very unique....I know one printer who makes a
    "reference" print and re-photographs it."

    Exactly, some of the "great" prints aren't unique at all. Making a large-format interneg
    from a master-print wasn't that unusual, in some cases (for example some of Klein's
    images which were distorted by changing enlargement/focus on the baseboard) there was
    no other way of
    getting anything remotely repeatable.

    "In terms of the "value" of inkjet prints, there are not a lot of examples yet of how they are
    accepted, but it is starting to be a big enough market that there are a few"

    Jeff, there are already plenty of examples in the major museums and galleries that indicate
    digital processes have no negative impact on "value". If anything, they have the reverse
    effect because many of the limitations (such as size and levels of subtlety) of "traditional"
    printing can be overcome digitally.
  29. The only problem with this argument/discussion is this....face it people, Image is dead. That's right, there is no audience for photographic images. You have to get that in your head all you who are laboring in the vineyard of photographic images. People do not care! There are no longer publications that BELIEVE in the photographic image as a relevent cultural icon or purveyor of news. It is over! (Stephen Colbert has approved this message.)
  30. I know a lot of really good photographers who don't understand the technology but still able to take great pictures. They leave the camera on Program and then take the film to a lab for processing. Now the only difference as far as they are concerned is that they now take the SD card for processing. I suppose it is the migrants who need to adjust to the new society else segregate themselves behind a wall.
  31. Moriyama's prints are RC and sell for high prices.
    While that's true for earlier prints his latest large 40x60 inch (100x150cm) prints have been made on the Epson 9800 using the K3 inks.
  32. Moriyama is totally irrelevant except for the photo on white wall art crowd. Face it people.

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