12 Quotes from The Revenge of Analog by David Sax
Nostalgic. Pointless. Sentimental.
Those are a few words that may come to mind when thinking about such things as vinyl records, fountain pens, and print books. Sax’s book Revenge of Analog is an extended argument that digital is not always the sweet fantasy that we think it is. Analog tools, with their limitations, actually enhance our experience with whatever activity we are doing with them. There are tradeoffs but there are also tradeoffs when it comes to digital that we oftentimes don’t see. You’ll enjoy this book if you’re feeling some of the shallowness of your digital life.
Below are 12 of my favorite quotes from this wonderful book:
- The Revenge of Analog is occurring now precisely because digital technology has become so damn good. Digital computing has been with us for the better part of the past half century, personal computing for the past three decades, the Internet for two decades, and smartphones for one.
- The honeymoon with a particular digital technology inevitably ends, and when it does, we are more readily able to judge its true merits and shortcomings. In many cases, an older analog tool or approach simply works better. Its inherent inefficiency grows coveted; its weakness becomes a renewed strength.
- Surrounded by digital, we now crave experiences that are more tactile and human-centric. We want to interact with goods and services with all our senses, and many of us are willing to pay a premium to do so, even if it is more cumbersome and costly than its digital equivalent.
- The natural constraints analog technology imposes on its users can actually increase productivity, rather than hinder it.
- You never have to make a firm decision with digital, because you can always drag the mouse to change the sound just a little bit more, and just click Undo if that doesn’t work out.
- People want to be creative and feel creative, even if they are not. Creatives have the ability to create an emotional trigger, and the analog world is the one able to create this emotional attraction and experience.
- In a digital game, even with the highest-quality webcams and microphones to capture facial expressions, we lose out on the immeasurable physical cues our body gives off… our posture, the sound of our breathing, the way we sip a drink, the bouncing of a leg under the table. These are the traffic lights that tell us when someone is frustrated, scared, joyous, or cocky. They are the signal flares of
- “There’s no rational debate around this. The world is analog, and digital is always a representation,”
- Analog gives us the joy of creating and possessing real, tangible things in realms where physical objects and experiences are fading. These pleasures range from the serendipity of getting a roll of film back from the developer, to the fun in playing a new board game with old friends, to the luxurious sound of unfolding the Sunday newspaper, and to the instant reward that comes from seeing your thoughts scratched onto a sheet of paper with the push of a pen. These are priceless experiences for those who enjoy them.
- “We assume that anyone who rejects a new tool in favor of an older one is guilty of nostalgia, of making choices sentimentally rather than rationally,” Nicholas Carr wrote in The Glass Cage. “But the real sentimental fallacy is the assumption that the new thing is always better suited to our purposes and intentions than the old thing. That’s the view of a child, naive and pliable. What makes one tool superior to another has nothing to do with how new it is. What matters is how it enlarges us or diminishes us, how it shapes our experience of nature and culture and one another.”
- Ultimately, analog pursuits connect us to one another in a vastly deeper way than any digital technology can.
- The MIT professor Sherry Turkle, who has devoted her career to studying and writing about the impact of digital technology on our lives, once wrote that sociable technology always disappoints, because it promises what it cannot deliver. “It promises friendship but can only deliver performance,” she wrote in her seminal book Alone Together. “Do we want to be in the business of manufacturing friends that will never be friends?” A machine taken as a friend, Turkle wrote, demeans the very notion of friendship itself.