trends | October 31, 2016

Why Analog (Still) Matters: David Sax on the Enduring Value of Vinyl, Polaroids, Moleskines, & More

Awash in digital technology, we still crave tactile, analog goods and experiences, says author David Sax. His third book (following the food-trend-focused Save the Deli and The Tastemakers) is called The Revenge of Analog, and it chronicles the improbable comeback of real, physical stuff—like vinyl LPs, Polaroids, board games and Moleskines—in the Internet age. In advance of the book’s release next week (November 8), Sax stopped by CBC Radio’s “Day 6” podcast Friday to talk about the resurgence of these decidedly 20th-century technologies—and more importantly, why it’s happening.

Here’s Sax on the renewed popularity of vinyl:

 

We don't need to listen to vinyl records today. We can listen to any song on a streaming service. It takes up no space and we can do it just about anywhere that we can get a signal. So why does vinyl matter?

 

I think vinyl is fundamentally about the emotional connection we have to things and the way we interact with them that's different from the digital equivalent. So a record is something you can feel and you can touch. There's a sense of discovery when you find a record at a garage sale or a record store [that] comes with pride. It's almost like you've hunted it down.

 

Then there's the act of listening to it. Not to get all McLuhan, but it's very involved. It involves your physical senses: touch, sight, smell and obviously the sense of sound. And when you get it on, you're not skipping to tracks, you're not flipping back and forth through your email. You're there for twenty-two-and-a-half-minutes of each side.

 

There's an attraction to that because you are engaging with the music in a more committed way.

 

And here’s his take on the return of old-school cameras:

 

Film and old cameras matter because of the process. You have the imposition of limitations, for example, the cost of a roll of film and the cost of developing it. You have a lack of instant feedback like we're now used to with digital cameras. You press the shutter, it clicks and you won't know if it works until it's back from the lab.

 

Then you have a limitation on the number of pictures - 24 or 36 - that you can take. Each one has to be thought out instead of being able to shoot thousands of pictures in one session like you can with a digital camera and then go back and fix it later. 

 

It's these limitations that spurs creativity. That's why new photographers are using film and why some area going back to it. With digital you can fix anything in Photoshop so it's the unique look, the imperfection that's sought after now because perfection can be achieved digitally.

 

For the full interview, head over to CBC

 

Be sure to grab The Revenge of Analog when it comes out next week. And if you like it, consider booking David Sax for a keynote—he’s an expert on cultural trends and what they mean for marketing, retail, and business strategy.