Analog vs Digital

Images-1 In the last week, I have had this conversation with more than a handful of people.  Maybe its a theme but there is something to be said about the balance between analog and digital.  In all transparency, every person I had this conversation with was over 40 so keep that in mind except for one.  Regardless, what comes into question is what is the balance between digital and analog.

I spent some time speaking with a very successful guy who was involved in the Fashion industry, in the high end world.  He was moaning about the demise of print.  His point was that there wasn't a fashion designer he personally knew (Valentino, Donna Karan, and some younger designers that I can't recall their names) that didn't have a concept board filled with pull-outs from magazines, filled with photos, etc. and none of it came from the Internet.  It all came from paper, not printed from the web.  In the back of my mind, I was thinking about Jessica, my own daughter, who has taken pull outs from tons of magazines and covered her college dorm room with them.  He went on to say that the Hermes piece that just came in his mailbox this week was so beautiful and that can never be replicated on the web.  Perhaps but is it worth the cost?  What is the balance?  As a culture, we seem to be going through that shake out now.  What will be left?  Playing devil's advocate, I just said that people will change the way they create, he didn't buy that.  He also was frustrated by his nieces and nephews lack of writing skills ( ages 11-23 ).  So, let's ponder all of that.

Last night, I was talking to someone else about basically the same subject.  My friend agreed that the writing piece of most kids has gone down the drain. I am not in that camp.  My kids write really well and enjoy it.  Is that the school system to blame or the parents who have not pushed their kids to write.  I actually believe that kids are writing more than ever, perhaps in staccato but they do write to communicate. Maybe the people who
don't write well just becomes more apparent as more people are reading what they write.  My friends daughter has not
even learned how to write in script and she is 13.  Maybe that is ok, maybe it isn't.  If anything this generations face to face communication skills have probably suffered.  As kids spend more time texting, playing Farmville and keeping up on Facebook, are they still able to walk into a room of new people and have a conversation?  Not so sure but on the other hand, that has always been a skill and perhaps the ability to use the computer as a medium to communicate has been helpful to those that have a tough time with the face to face.  Not that reality is sitting inside a dark room being on the computer all day at least it shouldn't be. 

Many people believe that there is something about getting a hand written card.  I know that I make our kids write thank you notes, the old fashioned way, when they get a gift, even it is to a friend.  Over the years, most of the notes from their friends come in email form with everyone on the same blast.  There is something to be said for holding on to a few things from each generation.  Landmarks wasn't established in cities across the world for nothing.  What should the landmarks be in correspondence of this generation?  My friend lamented that when she interviews someone and they actually take out the time to send a handwritten note, put it in an envelope, get a stamp, find a mailbox, etc. vs just shooting off an email, she remembers that. 

Certainly I am a huge proponent of the Internet.  It is our bread and butter but I do wonder what have we lost, what is fine to lose and what should be kept.  Will my kids still send out wedding invitations on print paper, will they send out hand written cards to say thank you or create individualized ones through the web for each person.  Time will tell but between the print world, the correspondence world, there is something to be said about the balance between analog and digital. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. cookiemoo

    As an Interior Designer, I get a lot of inspiration from the pages I pull out of magazines. Just this week “Metropolitan Home” bit the dust. “Western Interiors” folded a few months ago. Last year it was “House and Garden”. Nothing can replace the experience of interacting with a magazine. I also visit many web sites, but it is not the same. Even though I am in my 50’s, I consider myself very computer savvy. I’ve been surfing since 1984. Analog has it’s advantages and digital has it’s advantages. I wouldn’t want one to replace the other. I like to live in a “tactile” world.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I like to live in a semi-tactile world too. I read about Met Home, anothergood one bites the dust.

  2. Andy Jacobson

    I believe that the digitization of print is something that everyone desired well before it became accessible.It’s almost Darwinian. Stories, news, pictures, personal introspection, has all become more widely available because of digitization—allowing its authors to reach a larger audience and often encourage a more dynamic conversation. In some cases, such as business communications, its better for the environment (remember the days of offices filled with filing cabinets full of papers rarely ever needing to be retrieved).At the same time, thoughts and ideas which we choose to be more intimate now have an even greater value when written or printed on paper.In fact, I’m just about to send off a condolence card—if I could just remember where we put them (damn this being over 40 thing sucks).

    1. Gotham Gal

      Agreed, greater value is definitely placed on paper….particularly thatcondolence card, when you find it.

  3. Timothy Post

    Regarding, the demise of a “…concept board filled with pull-outs from magazines,” I recommend folks check-out Evernote software (both Mac and PC). The website is at http://www.evernote.comI have created a notebook called Inspiration and I am constantly dropping in screen grabs from websites and also from magazines I read with Zinio. I ever take photos with my iPhone all the time and send it to Evernote.I took a little while for me to adapt from a folder with print pages but now that I’ve been at it a while, I actually prefer it over the older way.

    1. Gotham Gal

      As i wrote, people will to create in different ways. Thanks for the link, will definitely take a look.joanne [email protected]

  4. daryn

    In 99/2000 I worked at an internet retailer whose raison d’etre was phenomenal customer service. We pushed phone and live chat support, a generous return policy, and customer focus long before Zappos made it fashionable.One of my favorite memories is of Ray Johnson, an adviser to the company, who was the former chairman of Nordstrom. Ray was a bit older, and knew retail and customer service much better than he knew the internet. Whenever it was suggested that we start a loyalty program, and automatically add our best customers, and/or send them specialized emails, he’d just shake his head. Instead, he had the design department create some beautiful thank you cards, and everyday would have the customer service department write hand-written physical notes to the top customers of the day, or anyone who they had spent significant time with on the phone the day before. That human touch got word of mouth going, and earned us lifelong loyal customers one at a time.If social media was as big back then, I think the impact could have been huge. I don’t know if they still do it nowadays, but it was really special.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I admit that when I make purchases at certain boutique stores around NYC, Ialways get a hand written note in the mail afterward. Have to say, it isquite nice and when I return to the store, they now have a relationship withme which makes shopping there a little more intimate.Great story about Johnson. Love that.

    2. Gotham Gal

      Strangely enough, well not that strange, Fred reblogged something on hisTumblog about this particular topic. He hadn’t read my post yet and wedidn’t even discuss the analog/digital thing…I guess that is what happenswhen people live together for a very long time.…inoff

  5. perryst

    I too have tried several solutions to adapt to grabbing/bookmarking images I like online. My latest effort is by using Posterous. However, when it comes to wanting to save images and post them on a corkboard so I see them every day, I am not going to waste the ink to print them off my inkjet printer. All this coming from a person who has run web sites for printed magazines. I guess I hope there will be some balance. I can imagine a time that instead of having a corkboard we will have a digital screens projecting our inspiration images. It still does not sound as tactile or inspired as cutting images out of a magazine and organizing them in a pleasing arrangement.On the handwritten front, I am of the camp that there is nothing like a handwritten note from a friend. I recently received a wedding invitation from Paperless Post. They are much more attractive than Evite or Pingg invitations, but it just did not feel right. I suppose it’s uncouth to say and think, but if you cannot bother to lick and envelope closed and put a stamp on it, I am not sure I want to buy a plane ticket and all the other steps it takes to attend your wedding. Is that terrible?

  6. Steven Kane

    What with so many now delighting in the staccato-burst forms of communication (and many even claiming the exchange and development of ideas is enhanced by ridding it of boring gray old substance) I think we are heading to a future that will resemble the feudalism from the middle ages.Except, back then, the ruling class was an aristocracy was based on land ownership and bloodlines.In our future, the ruling class will be the small and diminishing group of intellectual elites who will be able to communicate in and work with long form thought.I don’t keep my kids away from modern digital media — quite the opposite. But I do insist that they read complex, long form texts (novels, biographies etc etc) and in print form. Just to make sure those brain muscles get exercised and developed.But Mike Judge said it so much better than I can, in his 2006 comedy “Idiocracy” –

    1. Gotham Gal

      Great comment…totally agree with your thoughts.