The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax, Published by PublcAffairs November 2016.
Like the song says “Everything Old Is New Again.” In his captivating new book, “The Revenge of Analog,” Toronto-based journalist David Sax provides an insightful account of this phenomenon, creating a powerful counternarrative to the digital revolution mythology. As a business reporter, Sax uncovers stories of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and even big corporations that have found a market selling tangible things as opposed to virtual reality, citing examples in print, film, retail and so on. As e-books are supposedly remaking reading, independent bookstores have sprouted up across the country. As music allegedly migrates to the cloud, vinyl record sales have grown more than ten times over the past decade. Even the offices of tech giants like Google and Facebook increasingly rely on pen and paper to drive their brightest ideas. Sax reveals this under-reported cultural trend and deeper truths about how humans shop, interact, and even think. Blending psychology and observant wit with old-fashioned reportage, Sax shows the limited appeal of the purely digital life -and the slow magic of the real world outside it.
Sax’s thesis is that analog is here to stay, and experiencing a revival that is not just a case of nostalgia or hipster street cred, but something more complex. In an increasingly digital world where physical objects and experiences are being replaced by virtual ones, Sax argues, “analog gives us the joy of creating and possessing real, tangible things”: the hectic scratch of a fountain pen on the smooth, lined pages of a notebook; the slow magic of a Polaroid photo developing in front of our eyes; the satisfying snap of a newspaper page being turned and folded back; the moment of silence as the arm of an old turntable descends toward a shiny new vinyl disk and the music begins to play.
The choice we face isn’t between digital and analog Sax reassures us, “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.” And it’s often analog -perhaps less efficient, less perfect, less speedy- which best captures those human imperfections, creating a tactile interface with the world. #fortheludditeatheart