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Lots. Really, there are lots of photographs.
September 21, 2011 6:10 AM   Subscribe

How many photographs are there?
posted by seanyboy (29 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
How many theres are there?
posted by litleozy at 6:14 AM on September 21, 2011


How much stuff is inside?
posted by TedW at 6:14 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lots
posted by DU at 6:15 AM on September 21, 2011


I'm guessing there was a nasty accident on the green and rush hour traffic has been diverted to the blue.
posted by hypersloth at 6:16 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, come on.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:17 AM on September 21, 2011


That was actually a fascinating article. I never would have guessed the scale by which Facebook dwarfs Flickr. Thanks for posting it.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:20 AM on September 21, 2011


from the article:
There is a surprising dearth of direct data.


"surprising" !? How the heck can it be surprising that there is not a database counting every single photograph ever taken? It would be extremely surprising - and a bit scary if there was direct data on such a question
posted by 2manyusernames at 6:23 AM on September 21, 2011


Well, lessee... I've posted 10,931 so far, to Flickr.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:25 AM on September 21, 2011


Astounding.
posted by fake at 6:30 AM on September 21, 2011


And since celluloid film is just series of still photos..add all the frames of all the films ever made.
posted by judson at 6:31 AM on September 21, 2011


The next "how many...." FPP someone makes had better be "How many martinis would the mods like after they're done deleting all of these 'how many' posts".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:32 AM on September 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I reformatted one of my backup drives this week. When I recovered the data there were 32,486 jpegs. No folders, no names. Much swearing.
posted by Ahab at 6:34 AM on September 21, 2011


"How many martinis would the mods like after they're done deleting all of these 'how many' posts".

I'll bring the olives!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:35 AM on September 21, 2011


Facebook's storage requirements are growing at the rate of 25 terabytes a week. Simple extrapolation shows that the Earth at some point will run out of molecules to provide for the storage media for their data centers. By 2040 we will likely be approaching Peak Molecule. The planet will become ravaged and we'll gradually start living our lives in small protective cylinders (and they have to be small since all that material is needed for the data centers). Fortunately no one wants to see pictures of peoples' boring cylinders, so that will finally curb the interest in taking pictures, and the data center requirements should finally stabilize.
posted by crapmatic at 6:40 AM on September 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


by 1960 it is estimated that 55% of photos were of babies.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:41 AM on September 21, 2011


flapjax at midnite: ""How many martinis would the mods like after they're done deleting all of these 'how many' posts".

I'll bring the olives!
"

at which point someone will post a "how many threads have been deleted in the history of Metafilter" thread.
posted by 2manyusernames at 6:53 AM on September 21, 2011


Far, far, far too many.
posted by nevercalm at 7:03 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Years ago a friend of mine came up with a great idea; he wanted to write a program that would incrementally change the pixel colors of an image, one pixel at a time, one color at a time. The end result of this is that after a long enough period of time, he'd have generated every image to ever exist, and ever image that never existed. Every photo, every frame of film, everything.

Storage and image identification would, of course, be the real insurmountable challenges, but that didn't matter. The mere concept was enough to entertain me to no end:

Want a picture of Jesus partying with Elvis and a T-800 class Terminator? No problem! How about a picture of that time you stopped the JFK assassination? We'd have that one too. The entirety of the best motion picture for 5 years from now? Or that same film instead starring Jesus, Elvis and the T-800? If you don't mind not having the sound, we can do both of those as well!

It's an impossible idea, but in a wonderfully mind boggling way.
posted by quin at 7:31 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's an impossible idea, but in a wonderfully mind boggling way.

You could fund it with the copyright infringement lawsuits you would be able to bring.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:53 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


That chart of number of photos/time looks kind of hard to belive. I would expect there would be a HUGE jump in the number of pictures taken as digital cameras and storage took off compared to the growth factor before that, which would have been tied to how many pictures people could afford to take and develop.

---

Quin: thanks to the pigeonhole principle the index to those images would have to be as long as the images themselves.

So for example, if each image was 10mb, the index would also have to contain 80*220 bits. In other words the index would simply be a lossless encoding of the original image. And actually you wouldn't even need any storage Just write a program that would convert an index into the image that would be generated for that image. In fact, you could just view the index as a single bitmap if you wanted.

So actually, if you generated all the possible images at a certain size, you would actually be back to where you started: You would have no more then then you have now.

"generating" an image (i.e. Jesus riding on a dinosaur) would take as much computational effort as generating it on the fly.
posted by delmoi at 7:54 AM on September 21, 2011


Also, facebook image storage sucks. The images are not only scaled down but WAY to much JPEG compression is applied and as a result they look like crap
posted by delmoi at 7:56 AM on September 21, 2011


How many are there? All of them.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:59 AM on September 21, 2011


by 1960 it is estimated that 55% of photos were of babies.

By 2012, 60% of photos were of cute cats.
posted by jeather at 8:20 AM on September 21, 2011


he'd have generated every image to ever exist, and ever image that never existed

"The Library of Babel", Jorge Luis Borges, 1941.
posted by stebulus at 9:11 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Agreed. Way too many.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:20 AM on September 21, 2011


50 Unexplainable Black & White Photos (possibly nsfw).
posted by homunculus at 9:53 AM on September 21, 2011


Quin: There's an infinite number of monkeys outside who want to talk to us about this script for Hamlet they've worked out.
posted by TedW at 10:00 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is an interesting article but Facebook isn't really a photo 'library.'
posted by carter at 10:39 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The article + chart are pretty mindblowing (though I wonder how they calculated the photographic data - I'm skeptical of their claim that "Kodak's employment statistics [are] a reasonable proxy for how many photos were taken"...)

The line about "how many of these treasured memories are confined to our shoeboxes as lost relics of a pre-digital era?" just irks me, though. The idea that photographs and such are "lost" just by virtue of not being accessible online seems short-sighted, though I guess it's a natural enough feeling for people to have the Era of the Cloud.

Still, I worry much more about permenantly losing the digital images I have of myself as a young woman than I do about permenantly losing the physical snapshots of myself as a child that my parents have in shoeboxes at their place (well, maybe I'd worry more about it if various relatives didn't also have copies of many of them). Not so much in the short-term, but certainly in the long term.
posted by bubukaba at 12:10 PM on September 21, 2011


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