The Future Is Analog
How to Create a More Human World
We need to center people now more than ever, says David Sax. The award-winning business journalist has written about all kinds of people: from deli owners to hairstylists to rural farmers—and he says that people are crucial to innovation. His upcoming book, The Future is Analog, explores how we can return to the heart of technology to create a more human future where digital progress serves us first and foremost. His previous book, The Soul of an Entrepreneur, tells the real stories of small business owners who make up our economy, and dives into the challenges, opportunities, and the long-forgotten human element of entrepreneurship.
“Sax is great company, a writer of real and lasting charm.”— The New York Times
Award-winning author and business journalist David Sax is relentlessly curious—about the places we work, the foods we eat, and the businesses we frequent, but mostly about the people behind each of these things. In identifying the human side of the issue, he argues, we come to the heart of what technology, business and entrepreneurship are really about. His upcoming book The Future is Analog investigates the implications of our fast-evolving digital universe, and presents a vision of a future where technology serves humans first and foremost. It’s a charming, candid manifesto for a different kind of change—one that embraces innovation while staying connected with the people who matter most. In his engaging talks, David draws on his book to make the case for a future where digital meets analog in a dynamic blend, and we innovate not for the sake of productivity but for our social and cultural flourishing.
In The Soul of an Entrepreneur, David shows that becoming a successful entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to be the next Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. Instead, he tells the real stories of everyday entrepreneurs —the local barbers, restaurants, family-owned factories, and businesses small and large that hold our communities and economies together. In his talk, he offers lessons and stories from a diverse group of entrepreneurs to teach us how we can build the emotional and spiritual resilience needed to withstand crisis. He reveals how we can ensure entrepreneurship is open and accessible to all—restoring the essential promise of our economy that anyone can be an entrepreneur. He says that “we need to build a community of entrepreneurs who can lean on each other, learn from each other, and let one another know that while they may feel as though they are facing the world alone, their experience is shared, and in some way, their burden is too.”
In his previous book, the #1 Washington Post bestseller The Revenge of Analog, David explores the cultural shift that occurred when digital upended every industry—and enabled a comeback for analog in the process. With common sense and uncommon charm, he’s a chief chronicler of this resounding shift both on stage and in this acclaimed book, named one of the best of the year by The New York Times’ Chief Book Critic, Michiko Kakutani. Retailers and tech giants the world over are fusing digital with analog to boost creativity and outsmart the competition—and David has his finger on the pulse of what this means for the future of innovation. The Revenge of Analog garnered enthusiastic praise for its blend of psychology, business sense, and old-fashioned reporting. Publishers Weekly called it a book with “a calming effect, telling readers, one analog page at a time, that tangible goods, in all their reassuring solidity, are back and are not going anywhere.”
A sophisticated analyst of major trends for consumers—and wider culture—David is also the author of two other fascinating accounts of pop culture and business. In The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes But Fed Up with Fondue, he argues that food trends are not only a collection of photos on Instagram—they have an everlasting effect on our culture, workforce, economy, health, and day-to-day lives. The New York Times calls it “a romp” through the food industry that will “leave readers wondering about how susceptible we are to the charms of any new food.” His first book, Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen, won the James Beard Award for Writing and Literature. His other writing appears regularly in The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, The New Yorker’s business blog, and LA Times, and he is a regular feature on CBC Radio and NPR.
“David delivered a great virtual session yesterday! It was the perfect fit for Small Business Week and certainly matched the passion that we see demonstrated by our tourism partners.”Travel Alberta
We’ve spent so long anticipating a digital future—the convenience of instant communication, online shopping, virtual everything, right from the comfort of our homes. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, that future became our present, almost overnight. But it wasn’t nearly the utopia we’d longed for.
In this insightful talk, author and business journalist David Sax draws on his upcoming book The Future is Analog to show us that we can use the digital tools and innovation at our disposal to enhance our real lives, not replace them. We can innovate not for productivity but for our social and cultural flourishing. And embracing the reality of human experience doesn’t mean resisting change. Witty, honest and accessible, David helps us find the courage to choose the future we want and envision a world where technology enables us to connect more deeply and live more fully.
Everyone wants to get their hands on that shiny new idea, the one that solves a unique problem, moves a million units, and inspires a miniseries. The problem, says David Sax, is that if you’re chasing the last bright shiny thing, you’re likely going to miss the solution you really need. In this vibrant and creativity-sparking talk, Sax threads together his knowledge of analog technology, food trends, and the myths of entrepreneurship to deliver an intrepid survey of innovation—and how it can really be pursued. He will share stories (sans rules, tips, and tricks) of agile innovators who looked to the moment and the medium, developing new ideas based on those calculations. As Sax colorfully explains, there’s lots to learn from the past: from analog to food trends to the myths and mistakes of entrepreneurship, we can create a truly innovative new future. Your audience will experience an incredibly entertaining synthesis of Sax’s areas of expertise—all of which come together to illuminate a brilliant and original approach to innovation that only Sax, with his lightning-quick wit, can deliver.
It’s now a cliché to announce that business and culture have moved to the digital realm. But while times have changed, the value of analog goods, ideas, and experiences has actually increased. With journalist David Sax, author of the critically acclaimed book The Revenge of Analog, you’ll discover why a return to analog might be a welcome shift—and best for business.
Vinyl records, notebooks, Polaroids, board games, and other seemingly obsolete products have seen robust growth in the last five years. Less efficient, more expensive goods are now coveted consumer items, largely sought out by millennials who want more than phones and apps, and are willing to pay for it. Analog goods offer tactility, authenticity, and emotional experiences that digital programs cannot; their inherent disadvantages are now their chief allure. But the revenge of analog also means we’re rediscovering the relationship between analog ideas and how we learn. Print publishing means better connections for readers, and a higher value for advertisers. Brick and Mortar retailers can deliver better profits than even the best ecommerce operations. Some of the most forward-thinking organizations embracing analog are actually based in digital technology—think Facebook, Google, Evernote, Yelp, and Pinterest, who’ve switched to paper, pen, whiteboards, and tech-free meetings to help employees retain information.
For students of culture, this talk explores the anthropological importance of analog experiences—how we’re also heading back for soulful, deeply human reasons beyond talk of sales. For analog-based companies, Sax’s message is a rallying call to rediscover their worth and potential. And for companies with a strong digital focus, this is a great opportunity to imagine new (and very old!) ways of embracing analog culture for hybridized success.