Dear Lifehacker, I'm organising my family photos digitally and have a burning question — how can I tag people's names for posterity? Picasa, iPhoto and the like can recognise faces and record names, but the names are stored in a separate database, not attached to the photo. How can I store this data for posterity, guarding against different programs and different operating systems for the next 50 years? What is the digital equivalent of writing a person's name on the back of a photo?
Image: Kate Hiscock
Thanks, Archive Anguish
Fifty years is a serious problem when it comes to operating systems and making sure that everything is always going to be readable — as those who try to glean records from systems built around 1964 would be able to tell you. No one system is going to be perfect, right down to manually printing them and writing names on the back. Even names on the back of a picture can fade, and have you ever tried reading 50-year old handwriting?
You could in theory use a tool to edit the EXIF data on the photo, which at least is an open standard, and could be used to identify subjects in a photo alongside other data fields. Again, that's not cast in iron in terms of absolute readability, because in 30 years time we might be storing all our EXIF data on completely incompatible data formats. Still, it's at least more open than using a particular proprietary database tied into iPhoto or Picasa.
What measures have Lifehacker readers taken to permanently store the details of photo subjects on their digital images?
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