The “Kodak Moment” was once a chant of life symbolizing much more than just a brand, but a forefront of the future. It is unfortunately now used as one of the most often-cited moments of when a company misses an opportunity for innovation. The “Kodak Moment” has faded into oblivion with the advent of digital technology and digital media culture.
When I started my own IT consulting company in 1990, it may now sound strange to many younger readers, but Kodak was the Google, Samsung, or Apple of its day. It was well known for its advanced technologies and in creating a huge consumer photograph market with a slogan, “You press the button, we do the rest!” Founded in 1880, Kodak, by 1976, accounted for 90% of film sales and 85% of camera sales in America. Until the 1990s, it was regularly rated one of the world’s five most valuable brands.”
There are in our present day, many cutting-edge companies. Their expertise and technologies are not only generating a great profit but also play a paramount role in shaping and leading the present-day culture, as well as paving the way to the future. Starbucks, Apple, or Google must be considered as one of those companies. I think that their impact on our daily lives, over the last three decades (except for Google, which is just 18 years), has been enormous. There are no parallels in their strides beyond what was seen 300 years prior.
They simply changed the way we live. Period. However, when I try to appreciate what Kodak did to our culture, if anything, we can credit them to lay the groundwork for major cultural encounters, later to be taken by the helm of the above-mentioned corporate giants. We now consider photography as a social activity practiced by basically every smartphone user, but until Kodak invented the film camera, it was originally for a small number of professionals with their large-format cameras. Before the “Kodak Moment,” a mantra for those who wanted to preserve meaningful moments, Kodak’s high-profile marketing strategy was there to educate and convert people to embrace this new cultural social activity of taking a picture as a part of everyday life.
I also believe that there were some visionary people within the Kodak company who had foreseen the inevitable blending of social activities with the advent of the digital camera. Now pictures can be taken, and images could be circulated for viewing on mobile phones, PCs, or notebooks without the need for analog imprints. Kodak developed a digital camera in 1975, the first of its kind.
But what happened to Kodak?
Throughout its history, mainline Protestant Christianity was not only intricately intertwined in the fabric of our identity in North America, but it was a dynamic force in its progressive influence on Western culture and the catalyst in propelling it forward. The relationship between Christianity and culture was historically indissoluble, until the rise of postmodernity, which I believe caused the slow deterioration between the two. Aside from the main essence of Christianity, which is to worship our God, the underlying foundation of our faith has always been the community. The worshiping community has been tightly interwoven with every aspect of our society as well as provided the worshiper with a structure of belonging. Throughout our Christian history, this community has been an active channel through which God’s love and care were manifested into the neighboring communities. When did the deterioration and dysfunction of this Christian community begin? How did this community get distanced, loosely connected, or disconnected from the daily lives of its neighbors and its surrounding communities?