the revenge of analog
If you know me at all, you know I love any and all things analog. Books, paper, vinyl, film cameras, typewriters, you name it.
I've always been like this. When the iPhone entered the scene, I failed miserably at utilizing its digital organization capabilities, finding it easier for me to keep track of my life with pen and paper. When ebooks emerged, I never quite switched over. I own an iPad, but only use it when I travel. When vinyl made its comeback, I jumped on board immediately. Having never known what it was like to physically put on a record before, I reveled in the vibe of it. I loved hearing the physical noise of turning on music. In 2013 I bought my first disposable camera in years. This led to me purchasing a film camera. I was never really interested in taking great photos until I started playing around with film cameras.
In his book with the same title, David Sax tackles this idea, the revenge of analog. Right when it seemed digital had made analog obsolete, analog came back strong. The question is why. David says, "Surrounded by digital, we now crave experiences that are more tactile and human-centric."
I think that's why I love analog so much. Sure there's a bit of nostalgia, but really it's the physical experience of it. When I type on a typewriter, the keys are obnoxiously loud and I'm aware of every letter I punch. When I read a book, I notice every page I highlight and scribble notes on. When I turn on my record player, I am present to the right here, right now. I can't be anywhere else except in my living room, hearing the needle crackle when it hits the vinyl. When I shoot on film, I have no idea how the photo is going to turn out. The anticipation of getting film developed feels like Christmas morning, every time.
We are the generation who grew up on digital. Everything has always been immediately available to us, and whether we realize it or not, analog is teaching us the importance of waiting for the reward. Things lose their significance if we don't have to work for it, but everything is made better when we do. Suddenly we understand the value in something.
Just like with all things in life, when something new is presented to us, we swing to the opposite side of the pendulum. We go all in on whatever is shiny and new. Eventually though, we land back in the middle somewhere. The same is true for analog.
I believe digital and analog are best used in conjunction with the other. And ironically enough, digital is actually helping to save the very analog products it almost rendered obsolete. The internet is helping inform us on the best typewriter repair shops, helping small paper goods stores stay in business, allowing us to keep up with our favorite bands and their records. It's not digital versus analog. It's both/and. Some will find vinyl too cumbersome and prefer the ease of an app. Others will prefer to carry a physical book around. It's all about utilizing what's available to you to live and work better.
As David said, "The choice we face isn't between digital and analog. That simplistic duality is actually the language that digital has conditioned us to: a false binary choice between 1 and 0, black and white, Samsung and Apple. The real world isn't black or white. It is not even gray. Reality is multicolored, infinitely textured, and emotionally layered. It smells funky and tastes weird, and revels in human imperfection. The best ideas emerge from that complexity, which remains beyond the capability of digital technology to fully appreciate. The real world matters, now more than ever."
If you're interested in learning more about the revenge of analog and our need for real things, I highly suggest picking up David's book! He tackles the revenge of analog things, such as vinyl and paper, and gives you a history of the product. But he also addresses the revenge of analog ideas, such as print, retail, and summer. It's intriguing and fascinating and absolutely worth your time.
Maybe take some time this weekend to re-discover an old analog love. Buy a journal and scribble out your ideas, visit a record store, dust off that old film camera. You never know what you'll discover there.