When I was young, I learned how to take photographs with a 35mm SLR camera, take the film out of camera, process it and create prints. I was fortunate my dad was interested in photography and built a lab in our basement. The cost of a picture was not cheap, the film, the processing, the time it took to do it all. Even for those who didn’t process their own pictures you needed to take them to a lab to get them turned into prints. Now there are polaroid cameras which were instant, but the costs were high. Of course, it got cheaper over time, and some fast processing but the costs of each picture and doing it was a challenge. 

In 1975 Kodak created the first camera and what followed was a slow reduction of costs in pictures. In 1989, the first commercially available digital camera to be released (Fuji) The cameras were expensive, the resolution started out very poor, but technology would advance. 

In 1997 a cell phone was released with a camera, and about the same time online photo sharing sites started going online. Ofoto, Shutterfly and DotPhoto allowed people to upload photos and share with others. Instead of printing pictures out and putting them in albums users could upload and share them. Camera companies had these smaller (pocket size) digital cameras trying to make it easier to get digital pictures, as well as they had ways to upload them. This was still time consuming and took some technical skill. 

In 2006 Facebook was available to all users (over 13), Twitter came out and in 2010 Instagram was released. Even though social networks were around before this, it wasn’t till these three figured out how to get mobile photos that were about to change.  

Well thanks for the history lesson, Larry, but I could have gotten that all from Wikipedia, in fact it might be more correct. Absolutely and you should check my work, but believing everything you see on the internet is another post. Let us connect the dots, people have phone which now has a good enough camera, (yeah, I didn’t put the iPhone in there, but you know when that came out) companies have made it easier to get those photos online (social media etc.) so the result was people started taking more pictures with very little friction (cost, knowledge etc.)  

The cost of taking pictures from the old days of film cameras you had to buy, get film, get it developed etc. had diminished to zero. Photography had crossed the chasm from just a few to mass adoption. Before you only took pictures at moments (how many birthday pictures do you have from the 60-70s) now you take pictures at almost every meal. If fact, my camera roll has so many pictures there is no way I can ever look at them all. The days of sitting on a couch and going thru a photo album pretty much is over.  

What does his have to do with AI? Over the last few months as you play with Chat GPT and other tools and some people look at it for what jobs it will take away, others look at the damage it can possibly do and lastly those who want to figure out how to get the best out of them. The one point I think about is what is this going to make so cheap its worthless. To me over time many things have hit this. 

  • Photography (as mentioned) 
  • SPAM (well mail) when you can email something at no cost, vs price of a stamp 
  • Travel, Food etc, Guides. Remember buying books on places to travel 
  • Navigation, remember going to AAA and getting a trip-tick? 
  • Chilton’s Car repair guides. A simple YouTube search has made this really free 
  • Wikipedia killed Encyclopedias  
  • No one knows what cliff / monarch notes are 
  • Why don’t you add your own… 

What is General AI going to make worth less. First, it is not 100% correct. Pre-Chat-GPT a google search required you to read some links and decide what a good answer (or confirmation bias) to your question is. I wrote about AI being the next GPS and proof is this article about a lawyer who not only used ChatGPT for his case, but he only check the sources by asking ChatGPT if it was lying.  

Though not sure anyone saw the photo becoming worthless now we don’t need to think if it is worth taking a picture as the cost is zero. With AI, we can only wait to see what makes it so friction free (writing stories, creating images etc.) that there is little value. I see the productivity gains leveraging it (images for this blog, coding etc.) and be watching to see.  

I love and hate what happened to photography. But looking at the list of things that are free/frictionless and most of this made my life better so now I will continue to experiment and find the next thing that will be friction free. 

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them

This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.