A couple of years ago I had a job interview. As part of the process I had to read a couple of documents and summarise the key data. The interviewer’s assistant sat me down in front of a computer and pointed me to the files containing the information. Then he walked away. I called him back.
“Could I get some paper?”
“Yes. Paper. For making notes.”
Oh. Eh. Yeah. Sure.”
He pulled some pages out of a nearby printer and gave them to me.
I assumed from his response that I was the only candidate with, what appeared to be for him, such an odd request. He was young, though, so perhaps the idea of writing things down on paper with a pen seemed strange.
Combine this habit of writing on paper with taking pictures on film and I seem to be the perfect audience for David Sax’s book The Revenge of Analog. Sax looks at the way in which analogue technologies that seemed to have been washed away by the onrushing digital tide have not only survived but in some respects are thriving in our digital world.
Sax looks at everything from retail stores to board games, examining how in each area analogue has made a comeback, illustrating his argument with examples of people, communities and businesses that are part of the process.
‘Revenge’ is perhaps an unfortunate choice of word for the title. There are plenty of other R words that are more appropriate – recovery, rediscovery, renewal, renaissance and more. It unsuitability is evident because one of the key factors in the recovery of analogue is precisely the rise of digital. The digital world may have driven analogue to the edge, but it has also been vital in keeping analogue alive. Analogue users, whether photographers or collectors of vinyl records or whatever else, may be relatively few in number, but the ability to connect with and create communities of other analogue users is only possible because of the internet.
I don’t think any of us would want to go back to a world before digital, but it’s good to know that the best aspects of that world have survived and are, in their own small way, thriving.