Analog world is thriving

Nov. 19, 2017

The analog world is not only surviving but in many cases thriving, according to David Sax, author of The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter. In a column in The New York Times titled “Our Love Affair With Digital Is Over,” he recounts his initial enthusiasm for a BlackBerry 8830 he acquired a decade ago. That enthusiasm has faded.

“Today, when my phone is on, I feel anxious and count down the hours to when I am able to turn it off and truly relax,” he writes, adding that he knows he’s not alone in his disenchantment with digital technology. He cites research showing that more than 70% of Americans worry about automation’s impact on jobs, that just 21% trust Facebook with their personal information, and that nearly half of millennials are concerned about the negative effects of social media on their mental and physical health.

Fortunately, he writes, there is a thriving analog world in which to take refuge. He notes that sales of old-fashioned print books are up for the third year in a row while ebook sales have been declining. In addition, vinyl records are experiencing a decade-long boom, with 200,000 pressed records sold each week in the United States. Furthermore, he writes, sales of instant-film cameras, paper notebooks, and board games are all growing.

And it’s not simply a matter of nostalgia, with consumers trying to recapture earlier experiences. Most of the current interest in analog, Sax writes, is coming from younger consumers who have never owned a turntable. What’s driving the sales is the richness of the analog experience. A book, he says, engages nearly all the senses—the smell of the paper and glue, the sight of the cover design, the heft of pages read, and the sound of the pages turning.

He concludes by noting that we don’t face a binary choice between digital and analog: “Instead, we are faced with a decision of how to strike the right balance between the two.”


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