No matter how you pick at the data, those digital photos add up! A gigabyte of RAW files in a day isn't that hard to come by (though it's a very full day for me). When I get done messing around in Photoshop and adding layers and final corrections, I can easily end up with more than a DVD full of files a day. Writing duplicate copies to Kodak Gold media costs me $3–5. Pretty cheap compared to film, but anyone who says that storage is essentially free doesn't reckon on the multimegabytes of digital photography.
Which brings me to my next point: finding all those photos later. Another pleasant surprise—my old filing approach seems to work pretty well in this Brave New World! Namely, my traditional contact sheets and "catalog" numbers. A numbering scheme that dates back to my college days has worked well enough that I've never had need to revise it—(mmddyy-[roll#][strip letter][frame#]). E.g., (061607-#060) for the photo illustrating this column. I would claim genius on my part, but honestly I just got lucky. This scheme carries over just fine for digital. Photoshop makes proof sheets a snap. So, happy happy joy joy, one problem I don't have to deal with is a new filing system.
On the other hand...
Before they're archived and cataloged, bits are fragile. I've already made the noob mistake of pulling a memory card out of my computer's card reader and sticking in a new one without dismounting the first card. That leaves you with unreadable copies of the files on your computer and an unreadable card. I've put the card aside while I'm looking for utility that can rebuild the file structure for me. Anyone out there wanna make some suggestions? Please??? The data is all there; it's the pointer structure that tells the computer which blocks of data are associated with which files that's messed up.
What really bothers me about this is not that I made that mistake; anyone who was worked seriously with IT for as many years as I have has done this more than once. It is a well-known "human failure mode" to forget to tell the computer to dismount a storage medium unit before physically removing that unit. The consequences are also well known. It's merely become more commonplace as ordinary end-users deal with removable storage.
What bugs me is that it would be trivially preventable: when you mount a chunk of storage, the OS should write a temporary ID byte to the device. Each time it accesses the device, it checks to see that the byte has the same value it did before. If it sees a different value (or no value), it doesn't do anything with the storage medium; instead it alerts you to reinsert the old unit so that it can be properly dismounted. When you tell the computer to dismount the storage unit, it erases the ID byte.
It's that simple. No unique identifier hard-coded into the storage medium (which would require bringing many standards groups and manufacturers into line and also freak the hell out of the paranoid). Just a small bit of code in the three major OS's and the problem would go away 99% of the time for 99.9% of the people out there. You'd think after 20+ years we could eliminate this particular failure mode, because it's not that hard to fix.
So why isn't it fixed? Beats me. Probably for the same reason there's no latch on the battery compartment on my camera and camera manufacturers can't ever be bothered to put a decent viewfinder in the camera. Because when designers aren't being brilliant, they can be just plain dumb.