I had an interesting experience this week. I was running out of data storage cards for storing photos from my Canon camera. I store all my photos in camera raw format and the average photo takes up about 45 MB of storage. I have been using 8 GB Compact Flash (CF) memory cards and simply had taken so many photos over the past weeks, that I needed another card. Guess what? None of the places where I had purchased CF cards had any in stock. This got my attention. I finally figured out that Canon's new cameras have switched to Secure Digital (SD) type cards. So obviously, none of the stores want to store last year's products and they disappeared. This is an example of the constantly changing standards in the computer industry.
Now, do I buy a new camera simply because the storage cards are no longer being made and distributed? I can still use my existing cards and I can still buy them online, but just as with film cameras and VCRs and DVDs and all of the other storage devices available in the past, the technology moves on and there are casualties; think 8 Track, Beta and others.
What I perceive is happening right now is a huge shift in data storage. Media usage is now driving the storage media. People want to store their photos, movies and other huge files and storage devices are quickly adapting. I noticed that the default hard drive in Costco, yesterday, was a 4 TeraByte drive for $169. There are other storage methods that are gaining ground. SD cards come in sizes up to 64 GBs. Those cards are presently outrageously expensive, but it is inevitable as the demand for storage continues to climb, the price will come down.
This shift in technology applies to each one of us in genealogy, whether or not we have adapted to computers or are still lurking out there in the paper world. Yes, it means that the camera, computer, hard drive, or whatever that you just bought is going to go out of date almost immediately. That is a fact of life and there is nothing you can do but swim with the tide.
But you might want to look very carefully at the marketplace before your next purchase. I notice the same thing happening with cell phones. I went into an AT&T store and found out that they only sell three standard models of regular cell phones, everything else they sold were smartphone (i.e. Internet connected). A word to the wise.