Title: The Revenge of Analog
Author: David Sax
Publication Date: November 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:
A funny thing happened on the way to the digital utopia. We’ve begun to fall back in love with the very analog goods and ideas the tech gurus insisted that we no longer needed. Businesses that once looked outdated, from film photography to brick-and-mortar retail, are now springing with new life. Notebooks, records, and stationery have become cool again. Behold the Revenge of Analog. David Sax has uncovered story after story of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and even big corporations who’ve found a market selling not apps or virtual solutions but real, tangible things. 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’s work reveals a deep truth about how humans shop, interact, and even think. Blending psychology and observant wit with first-rate reportage, Sax shows the limited appeal of the purely digital life–and the robust future of the real world outside it.
As a lover of analogue, this book really struck a chord with me. My home is filled with books, records, stationary, board games, and film. I love Poleroids and vinyl, and I’m sure you can guess, the delicious pages of a freshly opened book. Sax discusses the recent trend of people turning away from digital products to seek the analogue–looking for products that are tangible and engaging in a way that scrolling across a glass screen is not. Sax addresses the move away from e-books and digital cameras, and explores how various industries are looking to de-tech, even to a small extent, to give people room to breathe and be creative. He discusses how analogue items like notebooks and whiteboards allow for limitless creativity while digital programs limit thought to the confines of the program or website one is using. Physical objects open up the minds of the users to discover the depths of their own minds by offering a place of peace and quiet, and simple encouragement.
Sax sticks with a simple formula in each chapter, which I did find a bit repetitive. Each chapter introduces a company or product, discusses it’s rise, fall, and comeback as each triumphs over a technological world. I thought it was a very neat set of case studies, however I think they could have been condensed into fewer chapters, combining a few perhaps so as not to reiterate the same argument across the first set of chapters. When Sax switches gears to work and education, things get even more interesting and his arguments switch gears a bit, re-engaging the reader. He talks about companies that have moved away from automated processes and have brought skills back into North America to hire workers in a skill-learning environment. He discusses the flowering of children’s creativity in the classroom as teachers reject the fleeting and brief displays of digital technology in favour of the classing whiteboard where lessons remain for longer periods of time, allowing children to read, digest, and absorb knowledge.
I would definitely recommend this one. Even if Sax’s chapters are repetitive, his thesis seeks to define the triumph of analogue products in a digital world. If you love anything analogue, this book will hit close to home. The book highlights how analogue products are truly a creative outlet and an art form for those who create them and appreciate them. These products are not just about acquiring something, they are about an experience both physical and emotional. This is something I truly connect with and I hope you will too with this book.