Wheel Taxes, Tiny Bits Of Plastic Found In Beer, Preserving Photo Memories In The Digital Age

Air Date:
Heard On Central Time
Kurtis Garbutt (CC BY 2.0)

Microscopic plastic pieces have been found in 12 different types of beer that are brewed using water from the Great Lakes, including one brewed in Milwaukee. We learn more from a researcher who worked on the study. We also talk about the vanishing family photo album tradition and how to keep up with your digital photos, and we discuss wheel taxes in Wisconsin.

Featured in this Show

  • Report: Wheel Taxes On The Rise In Wisconsin

    Amid the ongoing debate over to how best to fund transportation needs in Wisconsin, local governments in recent years have found themselves relying more heavily on additional vehicle registration fees, or ‘wheel-taxes’ as they’re often known, to fund local roads. Wheel taxes aren’t necessarily a new thing in Wisconsin…but a new report says they haven’t been used all that often until recently. In 2011, only four communities in Wisconsin had the additional fee…but by the end of 2017, that number had risen to 27. Why? Our guest researcher looks at the rise of the wheel tax in Wisconsin, and whether or not this trend may continue in the coming years.

  • Study Finds Microplastics In Great Lakes Water, Beer

    A study from the University of Minnesota finds that microplastic fibers are showing up in tap water and beer in the Great Lakes region. What’s still unclear is whether the pollution poses a danger to humans. The study’s lead researcher joins us to share the details.

  • The Photo Album Has Changed, But It's Not Dead

    Back before the digital photograph, showing off photos of your recent vacation didn’t look like uploading them to Facebook.

    Instead, you brought your roll of film to a store to be developed. Then, you’d carefully stick the photos that worked into an album, maybe bringing it out on holidays or get-togethers.

    The digital age has made photographs more ubiquitous, says Paul Hedges, emerging technologies archivist for the Wisconsin Historical Society. But it has also made them less permanent.

    “Certainly digital has helped us provide access to photos that are then immediately available to a wider range of people than a physical print,” Hedges said. “… At the same time, it’s not always going to necessarily be there. We have to think about where we’re putting it and long-term storage. So there are trade offs.”

    The sheer volume of digital photos versus print can be overwhelming, Hedges said. It’s easy to take tens of thousands of photos and store them on a hard drive without culling them down at all.

    The traditional photo album, then, isn’t dead, but there is a way to be intentional with digital photographs, Hedges says.

    “If I gave my son a flash drive, he’d put it in a drawer, he’d probably some day maybe discover it again,” Hedges said. “If I print out an 8-by-12 photo book, with not only pictures that I’ve selected but captions and identifying the people in those pictures, that becomes kind of a long-term record that he’s able to pull out and show children or friends down the road.”

    Photo albums are still a way to store your most important photos in a stable way, so they’ll still be around 50 years from now. And there are more ways to do it than ever before.

    Websites like Smugmug and Shutterfly allow you to upload a number of photos, even from your social media accounts like Instagram, and easily create and print an album relatively inexpensively. Or, visit a more traditional in-store photo center at Walmart or Walgreens and create the book at a kiosk.

    Hedges said the Wisconsin Historical Society promotes methods like this as a way to preserve family history.

    But he has one caveat: download photos directly from Facebook or other social media accounts and you may see a significant decrease in quality.

    “Facebook and Instagram, they actually kind of shrink the quality of your photographs,” he said.

    If you plan to make any sort of printed product from your digital photos, then, make sure to start with the original files. Facebook isn’t a great sole form of photo storage for this reason, he said.

  • Is The Photo Album Dying?

    How many people do you know that still keep a photo album? Do you still develop pictures? Do you have a shoebox full of photos? How far behind are you on backing up your electronic photos? We talk about what we might be losing as we move past physical copies and into the realm of Instagram, ICloud, Google Photo and more. We learn more from an archivist from the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Host
  • Chris Malina Producer
  • Dean Knetter Producer
  • Natalie Guyette Producer
  • Jason Stein Guest
  • Mary Kosuth Guest
  • Paul Hedges Guest

Related Stories