Economics vs Abundance

A while ago, I was talking to one of the senior colleagues about music and photography in general. In India, that to in South India, when we talk about music and cinemas, one man stands out – Ilayaraja. There are generally no words to describe him. He is a genius.

Coming to the point, my colleague told me that recently, there was a photo exhibition which displayed some 5000 flicks of Ilayaraja. Turns out, he was a master photographer too. But his flicks were of pre-digital era. That is, before the digital cameras were in vogue. Those days, people had to use rolls and it was a bit costly and limited.

Which brings me to the point – people then were cautious about clicking photos. Since there is no immediate feedback, you have to have some skill in photography to be able to take reasonable photos. Also, you will be selective in taking photos because of limited resources. That is one of the effects of having limited resources – you use it carefully and frugally. When you do that, there is value. But, when digital cameras came there was immediate feedback of the photos that you took and also it costs practically nothing to take and store photos. One of the main side effects of abundance is that people don’t realize the value of stuff anymore, because it is available in abundance, using a stuff more or less does not matter.This abundance of resources (time and cost) also resulted in people’s skill deterioration. People did not care anymore to take quality photos. They just took as many flicks as possible and if one of the flicks turns out to be good, they are done. They have the flick. That compensated for the lack of skill. And abundance naturally resulted in many photographs, and so naturally if there is more supply, the demand comes down – people are no more interested in something that is freely available all the time. So, people will not care about the photographs anymore and even if they care, they wont pay enough attention to each and every photo – because there is more of it, you just skim through the photos and be done with it.

The digital era has resulted in abundance – not in every way, but in more ways than one can imagine. And wherever it has ushered in abundance, it has resulted in deterioration of value, appreciation, skill etc.

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