The Computer Age Of Digital Retouching

secretsNational Geographic moved one of the pyramids of Giza to suit their cover design. Popular Science put an airplane from one photo onto the background of another photo on one of their covers and then bragged about how they did it inside the magazine. In a book of photographs of France, the photographer removed unsightly telephone poles from the picture of a Basque shepherd (see back cover). The Whole Earth Review, in questionable taste, appealed to mass credulity with a completely phony “photograph” of flying saucers on its cover.

One of the major manufacturers of the electronic retouching equipment, Scitex, stated in its 1983 Annual Report, “Publications produced on Scitex’s systems range from leading magazines and journals to high-quality fashion catalogs, the annual reports of Fortune 500 companies, national ad campaign materials, and glossy promotional brochures. Scitex systems are found in almost every country in the industrialized world .”

Nothing particularly sinister or ill-intentioned is going on here. Publications are using Scitex-type technology for a lot of unquestioned benefits–more rapid and exact page layout, for example, and higher-quality photo reproduction, and rapid transmitting of entire issues of graphics and text to simultaneous remote printers, greatly shortening the lead time to print of Time and USA Today, among others. The problem arises in the day-to-day detailed temptation to “improve” the images.

“Kick up that blue a little more.” “Let’s see the whole thing with more contrast. More still. Can you mute the sky a bit?” “Uh-oh, brown eyes, blue blouse. Try the blouse in green. No, darker.” “Can we get rid of that Pepsi can? Thank you.” “It’s great except for that guy with the weird look behind them. Could he go away please?” “You don’t like that guy, how about this guy instead?”

It’s yet another case of a new technical capability forcing the re-sorting out of a set of moral and ethical choices. Nuclear technology forced new decisions about what’s right and wrong in war and energy. Medical technology is forcing new decisions about what’s right and wrong in birth and death and parenthood. Digital retouching, though not yet a very public issue, is in the thick of how we will think about communication and “truth” and editorial responsibility –the broadcast fabric of civilization.

~ excerpt from Brand, Stewart, Kevin Kelly, and Jay Kinney. “Digital retouching: the end of photography as evidence of anything.” Whole Earth Review 47 (1985): 42+


Just as computers can digitally retouch photos, so too can computers retouch your bank accounts.  This is what hackers will do to you if you’re not careful and you don’t secure your items with lock and key – of a virtual sort.  You have to do things like get malware protection – a great tool is Spyhunter 4 which is an incredibly effective tool against spyware and malware.  You can also ensure that you don’t venture into “bad” internet neighborhoods.  This is a great way to ensure that you’ll always be on top of things.

Environmental Health is a Global Issue

Global-Health-ChallengesAs the environmental health of countries around the world continues to be threatened, steps taken locally can no longer be counted on to alleviate the issues involved. Rather, global initiatives are necessary, as conditions that constitute a threat in one region will invariably affect other regions as well. That suggests members of the various communities must cooperate in efforts to mitigate environmental health issues. However, communication between different areas is often compromised due to language differences. Learning new languages is a virtual necessity if real cooperation is to develop.

Because of the complexities of the global environment, clear communication related to existing issues, as well as rapidly developing problems, can only occur when all shareholders are able to express their concerns in a way that others can grasp. Different languages compound communication issues, and relying on interpreters is not always an ideal solution, especially in written materials, as nuances are easily lost during the translations.

Other significant concerns that often develop are cultural and geographical differences, which often lead to miscommunications. Here again, having more than a rudimentary grasp of another language is crucial for understanding others who share the concern for environmental issues. Nuances that are easily understood within a specific community are lost when attempting to communicate with someone who is not fluent in local dialects. Truly grasping a different culture is difficult even when the language used is understood, but not being fluent in the language can quickly damage a relationship. People attempting to bridge the gap would do well to brush up on their language skills with learn at home programs as well as traditional classes.

With the current environmental issues threatening entire hemispheres, global initiatives are imperative if solutions are to be discussed and agreed upon. That will require efforts by a wide variety of participants to learn a new language. As many languages are used in even small geographic areas, it may become necessary for participants to agree on a handful of languages to be used by participants in global initiatives. The challenges facing all countries must be addressed cooperatively if solutions are to be agreed upon.

Learning a different language is, in itself, not extremely difficult. However, the nuances are far more difficult to learn and understand. Participants in efforts to achieve global level agreements must be willing to invest their time and effort in learning more than a language, they must learn to communicate at a cultural level as well. This is because different cultures have different opinions on how to treat the environment. Some cultures do not even think twice about abusing natural resources for their personal gain, and other cultures stay more green as a whole. It’s incredibly important to be sensitive to the culture at large, and to take steps to ease into eco consciousness if a culture is not already like that. Forcing ecological restraints on a culture without first educating them can be counterproductive.

All in all it’s extremely important to consider global health first and foremost, but to also pay attention to the small steps you can make even in your own home. The longest journeys start with a single step, and sometimes that first step can simply be encouraging your friends to shut their lights off when they leave a room.