We’re digitally preoccupied.
We walk around with our faces pinned to small screens. We allow conversations to be interrupted by text messages and emails. We waste hours looking at inane videos on YouTube or binging on Netflix. We’re fascinated by how many likes are generated on social media.
In other words, it’s all digital all the time.
But maybe the pendulum is slowly swinging back to analog. In a New York Times opinion piece, David Sax argues that “Our Love Affair with Digital is Over”. He looks at growing sales of books, board games, paper notebooks and Broadway tickets and the renewed popularity of vinyl records as indications that “obsolete technologies” are making a comeback.
Analog, although more cumbersome and costly than its digital equivalents, provides a richness of experience that is unparalleled with anything delivered through a screen. People are buying books because a book engages nearly all of their senses, from the smell of the paper and glue to the sight of the cover design and weight of the pages read, the sound of those sheets turning, and even the subtle taste of the ink on your fingertips.
As someone who grew up in an analog world but loves digital devices, Sax’s piece resonated. I realized that analog is still a big part of my personal and professional worlds:
Newspapers: I use Nuzzel and Flipboard but I still have a newspaper delivered to my house every day, including two newspapers on the weekend. The Sunday New York Times is an amazing read. It delivers an all-encompassing world of the world. Last week, for example, I read features about a thriving sexy toy company in California, sexual misconduct within politics and the decline of the New York subway systems (good luck, Andy Byford). In my mind, a newspaper is a better and more efficient delivery mechanism to see the world from different perspectives rather than digital silos.
Notebooks: As a reporter, I used to write notes all the time. It was how the job was done. Today, I still use notebooks when I meet with marketing clients. When I write something down on paper, information, ideas, and concepts stick in my brain. It’s like the physical act of writing creates a connection. It’s not something that happens as easily when typing things into a computer or smartphone.
Moleskine: While I use iCal and Google Calendar, I also use a Moleskine to track appointments and create to-do lists. When I work, the to-do list in my Moleskine is easily accessible and there’s a visceral pleasure in physically crossing things off the list as they’re completed. I’ve tried a variety of digital to-do tools but my Moleskine is the most effective tool.
Sheets of paper: When I’m brainstorming ideas and looking for words to turn into phrases and concept, I use large sheets of paper to write things down. It allows me to easily and quickly look at words and ideas and allows the creative juices to flow. I’m always amazed by how concepts, particularly around brand messaging, come together when using large sheets of paper.
Books: I’m a huge fan of the Toronto Public Library, which is one of the best library systems in the world. While reading newspaper or online, I’ll come across books that people recommend. Then, I’ll hit the TPL’s Website to reserve them. In some cases, the books are great and they’re devoured enthusiastically (Brian Merchant’s “The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone”) is a terrific read. In some cases, the books aren’t that interesting but deliver food for thoughts.
Are you still using analog technology? If so, what are doing and why does it win over digital technology?
More: New research by Verto Analytics found a sharp decline in Facebook usage over the past year. Time spent by U.S. social media users fell to 18 hours and 32 minutes a month in 2017 from 32 hours and 43 seconds in 2016. As well, check out Jocelyn Glei’s podcast interview with Austin Kleon about the benefits of using analog tools.
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