Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Tutorial Two: Digital Imaging

In this post we will be discussing digital imaging by briefly looking at a number of aspects from the storage of digital images to their uses in Occupational Therapy.

One thing that the technological world offers us is the variety in which we can store information; the storage of digital imaging is included in this.

In the process of creating and storing a digital image, technology is with us every step of the way. You can create a digital image using a digital camera. From there you may choose to use a usb cord to transfer it to the computer, take out the memory card and put it into a card reader or you may even send the image wirelessly to another device using blue tooth. If you transfer it to a computer, you may  need to use specific software for the device you are using in order to transfer it safely to the computers hard drive.. Usually the software allows you to change the format in which the image is saved; one of the most popular and commonly used formats at the moment is JPEG (Joint Photo Experts Group). From there one may choose to edit the image using photo editing software such as Photoshop, in order to make your photo that much more of a masterpiece. From there, it is really up to you as to what you choose to do with that photo. The photo could be electronically stored, placed in a slideshow, printed and scrapbooked, transferred to another device or even posted on the internet.

There are many way in which digital images can be used to provide information; one which we have already touched on is the internet. Under the vast umbrella of the World Wide Web there are many ways in which digital images are used in this way. Here are three such examples:

1) Flickr ( http://www.flickr.com/ )

Flickr is an online website that specialises in storing peoples photos and provide a way for users to manage, organize and showcase their photos or videos. Web users create an account and upload their chosen photos. These photos could range from the scenery of the country side pictures from your family holiday. Users have the option of making their photos accessable to the public or limit the access to their friends and family only.

2) Facebook ( http://www.facebook.com/ )

Facebook is similar to flickr in the respect that photos and video can be uploaded and displayed on a users account and access to them can be limited. However facebook does not soley focus on photos and videos, but is a social networking site. Generally the photos a user posts to their account is usually something that they feel is important to have on their social forum. Users can tag other people in their photos and leave comments on their photos as a means of making social links and sharing information from their lives to other people.

Google images is a side branch to the google search engine. What it does is it gathers as many digital images it can from as many websites as possible and collates them with in the topic of your search.


Let's discuss the following statement in relation to digital camera technology. Here goes....

"A new technology is rarely superior to an old one in every feature"

What a statement! Where should I begin? I have to say that I am on the side of the affirmative; I absolutely agree with this statement. Why? Well allow me to elaborate. Lets look at film cameras and compare them to digital cameras by looking at their pro's and con's.

I will admit I do not know a great deal about film cameras but let me share that which I do know. I know that film cameras produce very good picture quality if done correctly. In general I believe that they were easier to use without all the millions of features that today's cameras seem to have. People were more likely take less shots due to the limitations of the film and the cost of developing. It was not possible to develop the photos from home unless you had a dark room which means traveling to a photoshop. Although taking less shots can be seen as a good thing, as you were more likely to develop and cherish them rather than keep them stored on the film. A negative was also that you didn't know what kind of shot you were going to get. None of this scroll and delete nonsense that we have today. With digital cameras, the picture resolution depends on what type of camera you have and how much money you were willing to fork out for it. You can have anything from 3mp to 18mp these days. Digital cameras are fast becoming more accessible (referring to social justice), and can be used in conjunction with a number of other technological devices, such as phones, iPods, even in a pen! Which goes on to say that digital cameras can come in a number of shapes and sizes and can be extremely compact yet functional. Zoom is rather compromised in regards to digital cameras and generally pales in comparison to its predecessor. Once again zoom depends the type of digital camera you have. To get decent zoom (optical) that does not compromise the quality of the picture (like the common digital zoom does) one must pay a decent amount of money for it. Storage of photos can be rather tricky business. The number of photos can depend on the size of your cameras memory card, which can be beneficial if you are a snap happy person and love taking photos. On the other hand we must not forget that a memory card is technology and can be know to fail from time to time wiping most, if not all of your precious photos. Digital cameras come with a number of functions, some can even record video and audio which its predecessor could not do. You can view and delete what photos you do not want and you can download, edit and print the photos all in the comfort of your own home, as long as you have the right gear. 

So if we use this quick comparison we can see that while the modern technological choice is digital cameras, they do not completely surpass their predecessor; the film camera.

I believe that technology will never be completely superior to an old one in every feature, simply because all new concepts are conceived from the old. It is how this technological race was started in the first place; humans looking to improve aspects of current concepts. To make a new technology completely superior to the old, in my mind means changing the concept all together; the concept of which is the unity between the new and the old, it is the shared purpose that they each have. Technology is made to fill a need. That need never changes but rather the way in which we fulfill that need does. We can only improve on those current adaptive concepts in order to better fulfill our needs today and in the future. 

Image capturing these days is much more user friendly and accessible then it used to be back in the day; no more standing still for minutes on end just for one photograph! Along with this it is also much easier to distribute these images as well. This is where our familiar enemy "ethical issues" comes along to ruin a good thing. I have already touched on ethical issues regarding digital images and their distribution as I spoke about photos being posted on the internet by Google Earth and the issue of "intellectual property". If this does not sound familiar I suggest you go back and read the post "Tutorial One: Information Technology and the Ethical Issues" to refresh your memory. 

The use of digital images being implemented in OT was also mentioned in my previous post but here is an excerpt: Within OT "cameras are being used as a way of displaying the effectiveness of the use of prescribed equipment and are a means for providing baseline and evaluation information". They can also be used as a means of intervention such as taking a photo of familiar objects in order to cue an individual with limited memory or other cognitive (brain) functions, to carry out daily activities. I can honestly say that I have seen all of these examples in use and their effectiveness within this field whilst I was on my first placement.

So my dear readers, that brings me to the end of today's discussion. Just as a passing note let me leave you with a final thought; whilst it is easy to snap and distribute a photo, it is just as easy to tread on an ethical mine field.

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