You’re not going to find immortality on the internet

Figure 1 - The author with his father, Hyman Wolf, on the lower East Side of Manhattan along the East River in 1954. Digitized black and white print. (c) DE Wolf 2015.

Figure 1 – The author with his father, Hyman Wolf, on the lower East Side of Manhattan along the East River in 1954. Digitized black and white print. (c) DE Wolf 2015.

Today would have been my father’s birthday – his 103rd birthday to be precise. And I always like to remember him on his birthday. So today I am posting another one those faces from the past images. Here I am with my dad in 1954. Don’t do the math. It’s depressing. We are along the East River in New York City, somewhere South of Fourteenth Street as evidenced by the Con Ed steam plant in the distance. I have said this before. My father loved New York City and everything that it stood for in his day.

This is another one of those contact prints (I believe) from a 2 1/4″ x 2 1/4″  twin lens reflex that my dad took. These were commercially printed and that contributed hugely to the mediocrity of the image quality. I found a lot of dead unused greys at the lower end and the image wasn’t too sharp. So I did some histogram equalization, sharpening, gamma manipulation, and just a touch of sepia toning. The result is almost reasonable except for the bleached out sky. This would have really benefited from a K2 filter or some such.And I find that painting in clouds in Photoshop, just a bit extreme.

Still there we are. Are we preserved for posterity? It had been troubling me that my parents had little or no web presence; so I am happy to say that through the agency of Hati and Skoll and this blog, if you do a search of “Hyman Wolf,” my dad now pops up, along with somewhat more famous Hyman Wolfs. But I must warn you not to look for fame or immortality on the internet. It is a fragile and ephemeral thing. When I die, if the subscription fee for this website isn’t paid, then poof! It will all be gone.

Well, maybe not quite. There are internet archives. That is a relief, not so much for the illusion of immortality but more for the ability of researchers in the future to be able to figure us out. We are rapidly foregoing print for fragile bits of information. There is the value of search ability – I mean amazing and extreme search ability.  You have to wonder what the researchers and librarians of the future will think of all the silly selfies that seem to define our age.

Librarians? Will there be librarians a hundred years from now. I have to think so. In my lifetime, I have seen them adapt. Many have stopped cataloging books but are ever ready to help you with the Boolean complexity of information searching. I have heard many times how all you need to do today is type a plain English question and the search engine answers it. Don’t believe that! There is still an art to searching and hence a need for librarians both to help you find it and on a higher level to keep order to the information.

In any event, I have no delusions of immortality for either me or my father. It is not to be found on the internet or elsewhere. Still there we are, or rather were.  Happy Birthday, dad!

This entry was posted in Essays on Photography.