Chéroux pointed to photography’s fated future in his catalogue introduction for “snap+share.” A sci-fi short story from 1891 divined: “In one hundred years, on New Year’s Day, and by cable, one will be able to exchange one’s photograph with that of a friend settled in the vicinity of Lake Tanganyika.” It would only take four-plus decades for the Associated Press to wire news images over 10,000 miles of telephone lines, but Chéroux noted that private exchanges of images did take about a century. In 1997, the French engineer Philippe Kahn emailed the first cell phone picture to 2,000 contacts: a portrait of his daughter, announcing her arrival into the world.
That image survives online more than two decades later—it is pixelated now, as resolutions have soared and our eyes have adjusted to them, but it can be found by anyone with a connection to the internet. Not every photo is a Time pick for the 100 photos that changed the world, as Kahn’s is, but in our age of sharing images and appropriating meme content, digital images are likely to have their lives extended well beyond the expiration dates of negatives and prints. They may be compressed JPEGs littered with artifacts, but they will exist as long as we keep the internet alive.