More on FAQ #130

Two reasons why it took
two decades to develop TCQ

  • 1. Most of the questions that needed answering had not been answered before

    A majority of the hundreds of questions asked and answered on this website had not previously been addressed anywhere else, and identifying answers to those questions took considerable research and time.

    Phrased another way, it took a bit of work. Solving “photography's biggest problem” was in large part like solving a mathematical proof, where each little breakthrough — often achieved only after days of dead-ends — would lead to a series of new questions, each of which had to be solved in turn before moving on further.

    There was also what might be called “the dictionary problem,” the reality that even simple statements require supplying definitions of the terms being used. (In other words, developing TCQ often felt like writing a dictionary.)

    For example, consider the unsurprising declaration that “Assuming that neither image is misrepresentative of the scene depicted, viewers will trust an undoctored photograph of the scene more than they would trust a doctored photograph of that same scene.”

    Before the reasoning for that declaration can even be given (see #510), definitions must be established for misrepresentative, scene, undoctored, photograph, trust, and doctored — and most of those definitions contain even more words that need defining!

  • 2. The world changed a lot between 2000 and 2020

    Various approaches that had seemed promising at the turn of the 21st century — when film was still king — had to be replaced over the next two decades with new solutions to meet the new realities of digital photography.

    Consider the three factors (listed in #201) that made photography into our most “universal language” over the course of those twenty years:

    1. “Digital photography”
    • In the year 2000, almost no photographs were made with digital cameras (probably far fewer than 1 percent)
    • By the year 2020, almost all photographs were made with digital cameras (probably far more than 99 percent)

    2. “The Internet”
    • In the year 2000 there were about 17 million websites
    • By the year 2020, there were 100 times that many

    3. “The smartphone”
    • In the year 2000 there were no smartphones
    • By the year 2020, there were well over 3 billion smartphones in use (meaning that roughly 3 billion more people now carry a camera with them than did so just 20 years ago; see also here).