The digital photography industry is facing a similar problem as healthcare – each camera sold by Nikon, Canon, Panasonic, Hasselblad, etc. uses a proprietary format to produce RAW images. Most professional photographers shoot in the RAW format. However, since each camera has a proprietary file, what is the likelihood that in, say, 20 years there is going to be a software program that will open each proprietary format?
It’s seriously a problem. Everyone knows how fun it is to look at old family photos. Kids today won’t have that pleasure since most digital photos never make it out of the computer into a physical print. In fact, only 2% of Nikon sales in 2007 were film cameras. It’s tragic…since the advent of digital photography, our culture visually only exists as 1’s and 0’s.
Adobe is trying to change this by advocating a standard, the Digital Negative or DNG format. It’s a step in the right direction for ensuring that 80 years from now we’ll be able to look at 80 year old digital photos. Given the fact that hard drives and CDs fade after about 10 years, it’s even a bigger problem.
All of the proprietary formats in healthcare face the same problem. All of our information is in some proprietary format and will be unrecognizable in future generations.