Here are my notes and thoughts from The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax, one of the books I was looking forward to on my 2017 Reading List.
From the Induction, on finding a song to stream: “My options were infinite, literally every single album and song ever recorded. It was as though the ease and convenience of digital music had sucked the very fun out of listening to it. The entire world of music was just a click away, but I couldn;t even be bothered to do that. What if there was an even better song, just a few taps away?”
Between 2007 and 2015, vinyl sales have grown more than 20% a year.
While baby boomer parents gushed about their new iPads and Spotify accounts, their children were dusting off old turntables and buying new albums.
Record Store Day, an annual celebration, contributed to a tipping point.
Listening to a record and playing a record are two different experiences. It’s more fun because it’s less efficient.
Paper was the first analog technology to be seriously challenged by digital.
The Palm Pilot came out the same year as Moleskine’s first notebook.
A pen and paper requires no power source, no boot-up time, no program-specific formatting, no syncing to external drives and the cloud.
Digital cinema is obviously growing, but there’s also a corresponding movement to shoot on film.
Snakes & Lattes, a board game cafe, opened in 2010. The real goal is to facilitate real interaction.
“Networked, we are together, but so lessened are our expectations of each other that we can feel utterly alone. And there is the risk that we come to see others as objects to be accessed – and only for the parts we find useful, comforting or amusing. Once we remove ourselves from the flow of physical, messy, untidy life…we become less willing to get out there and take a chance.” – Sherry Turkle, MIT professor, Alone Together.
Will Wheaton has a YouTube board game review show called Tabletop, that sometimes reaches 1 million viewers per episode.
On Kickstarter, table top games raised $42.1 million in 2013 compared to $45.3 million for video games.
“Working in printed media feels similar to life in a rustbelt city, where you take comfort int he past’s fading glory as the world contracts around you.”
Magazines aren’t all folding. Many are using smaller print runs, with a higher quality product, targeting a smaller, more valuable audience.
There’s a higher perceived value with print. Many people think digital is the answer but then realize there is a poor business model there. Print readers have a higher affinity and loyalty to a particular product, and that often translates to advertising.
“Strip away the venture-capital backing most new digital publishers exist on, and you have companies paying money to produce content for more than they are able to generate in ad revenues.” This is why digital publishers often say, “We can’t afford to pay writers, but we can give you exposure.”
Reading a printed work engages five senses.
E-commerce accounted for 7% of the US retail purchases in 2015.
Today, retail is about browsing, offering ing a sense of place and an experience rather than a destination for commodities. The retail store is still powerful.
In Q2 of 2015, Amazon’s retail operating margin in North America was 2.5%, compared with 25% on their web services properties.
Shinola watches are made in Detroit and use the story of Detroit to help sell.
Thomas Edison once said books and teachers would disappear from classrooms, because students would learn from movies.
There’s a presumption that technology will always improve one’s life, in whatever it is. We have a false belief that technology equals progress.
The best toys are 10% toy and 90% child: paint, cardboard, sand. The kid’s brain does the heavy lifting, and in the process, it learns.
One Laptop Per Child (now dramatically reduced in scope) made the great mistake of presuming the universal importance of technology in spite of the recommendations of people much closer to the problem at hand. What good is a laptop if you don’t have water?
The largest category for teacher requests on the site Donors Choose are for books. The most request item is a black marker for whiteboards. It’s not the flavor-of-the-month technology.
Data is interesting, but it really only shows you the past.
“When I think back on the twenty years I spent in school, what sticks with me isn’t any particular subject, learning tool, or classroom. It is the teachers who brought my education to life and drove my interest forward…”
Analog in Digital
“Nearly every single startup founder, investor, and programmer I met with carried a well-worn paper journal.”
Easy digital adoption comes with low customer loyalty. It’s easy to sign up for a Friendster account and even easier to stop using it.
“We have an attraction to analog things because we live in analog bodies.” – Kevin Kelly
“What makes one tool superior to another has nothing to do with how new it is. What matter is how it enlarges us or diminishes us, how it shapes or experience of nature and culture and one another.” – Nicholas Carr, The Glass Cage.
An entirely analog existence is unattainable and unattractive, but so is an exclusively digital one.
Overall, this was a very interesting book. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on print, as I’ve never quite enjoyed reading on a digital device. I enjoy holding a book in my hands and making notes in the margin with a pen.
I also carry this Moleskin notebook with me everywhere I go, so I enjoyed that chapter. The book inspired me to purchase a record player, and dust off some 40-year old albums my dad gave me.
Culture certainly defaults to digital, thinking what’s new and what’s advanced is better, but this book helps me pause. Perhaps, a healthy skepticism toward new technology and a slowness to adopt isn’t all that bad. There’s no need to chase new tech when in some cases, the older version is actually better.
So, I’ll keep reading books the old fashioned way and won’t feel any unnecessary pressure to put down the pen and pick up the iPencil.
Finally, some things aren’t dying, but they are becoming more specialized and reaching a niche audience. It’s possible to thrive in this environment.