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Video and Photo Apps Are Ruining Photography

Someone pointed out to me that the New York Times, one of the most respected news operations in the world, is worth less than Instagram, the schlock photo-sharing app. What's wrong with this picture?

Well, for starters, the picture was probably taken with Instagram.

Now we have two more contenders trying to get into the act: Viddy, which just received a 30 million infusion of additional funding, and Socialcam, another picture-sharing operation.

Viddy is getting the most attention. Its site explains: "Viddy is a simple way for anyone to capture, produce, and share beautiful videos with the world. Record a moment of your life, give it that cinematic look with our production packs, and share it with those who matter most."

I thought I could already do this with YouTube. No, wait, Viddy mucks up video the way Instagram mucks up the photos. OH, OK. Now I get it. Everything needs to be altered to show you care.

This trend of morphing reality has been sneaking around for a while. I first saw it on the Olympus PEN cameras and with its so-called "art" mode. You could take your pictures with all sorts of elaborate pre-filters that amped the photos in weird ways. It was amusing. Curiously, you could also do this with videos, just like Viddy does.

Then came Camera+, which turned the iPhone into a photo tool and added similar filters. While popular, the app did not emphasize the drivel approach used by Instagram. It aimed to make better pictures, not worse.

The trend seems to be the worst part. Exactly why anyone would want to take a perfectly good photo and make it look like a crummy Polaroid is beyond me. The real winning app would make your video look like an old nitrate black and white movie from 1910. Now you're talking!

The weird thing about Instagram is that hordes of people hate it and hate anyone who uses it. This is as interesting as the people who find it endlessly fascinating and use it all the time.

So here is my theory: Nobody wants to do anything well anymore. Everyone wants a photographic version of chicken fried steak. You take a cheap sirloin, batter it, then deep fry it until it is done. This is not the way to cook a steak, but it is what you have done because you neither have the experience nor the desire to actually cook it right. You are too lazy or proud to learn. So, you batter it and cook it in the fryer. You need to make it at least edible, so you smother it in a buttery white gravy that is essentially white sauce with pepper. Now you can actually eat this steak and kind of enjoy it for what it is.

The white gravy is Instagram.

The white gravy is now also Viddy and all the other apps that will come along shortly.

Where is the vomitorium?

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