i have been spending the morning going through the voluminous image-archive belonging to my work unit in the pacific region. lightboard and loupe in hand, i am going through three dozen binders full of slides, photos and negatives that have accumulated over the past hundred years or so, to decide which of them will end up in our digital image archive. i thought this project would take me a day or two max (the photo-selection part), but now i am seeing the vastness of this task. it is easy to get bored and stop looking at the photos critically, and then i have to go back over them and make sure i didn’t miss some gem with historical importance or a species shot misfiled under some other heading.
in communications, we have to access these images frequently. often i am required to locate general photos of a fish species, examples of habitat disturbance, scenic ocean shots or any number of other related areas – a task made tedious with the poor image-management we have had in place for years, and even worse when having to resort to the binders. since technology for archiving, labeling and searching photographs has really improved over the last three years, i proposed to my work unit that we properly archive our images and developed the plan to do it – so this is my big project of the moment (fortunately i don’t have to do the scanning or the initial inputting into the database, i have someone hired to do that for me).
after selecting the images from the archive, my next step is develop the architecture – which is the most interesting part of the job for me. i like organizing data into useable aggregates – as i often am not only the creator, but a user of the end-product.
there is sadness in looking at these decades of photographs – going right back to the time when the people of bc still believed the fish would never leave – trawlers and seiners and gillnetters and even whaling ships – an echo of past policy and the tinge of human arrogance gracing the photo paper in the eyes of men and the full bellies of their vessels. it’s a shame to me to see how the land has been so used here, looking at images of the first clearcuts on slopes reaching the sea, small villages perched on the edge of the world taking as much as they could before it got to be too late.
it’s hard to believe looking from this place in history – that so few people could see the scrabble for resources that would occur, that damage to the earth would not be repaired so quickly as to feed the growing mouths of this land, and we would eventually stand on a precipice of all decisions come before us and weighing on our backs.