When we look around, we will find ourselves surrounded by digital and mobile devices. It is not an exaggeration that we are living in a digital world. Nowadays, we simply click on the online music file instead of playing a CD. Who will pull out a paper map when you have the navigating application inside your phone? Above all, it has become dreadful to just imagine our lives without smart-phones. Things have become different on campus as well. Here at Chung-Ang University, professors calling out names in attendance books has become old-fashioned as the e-ID system has taken root. However, still there are times when you feel nostalgia for the analog experience. A digital generation seeking an analog sensitivity does not sound that ironic anymore.
1. The Difference between Digital and Analog
To understand the difference between the two, you need to take a look at the definition first. When you look up analog in a dictionary, it will be stated as "Analog signal is a continuous signal which represents physical measurements.” For example, in a mercury thermometer, although the temperature corresponds to each number of the scale, there still exist ambiguous markings between the figures. On the other hand, digital is, simply put, the opposite of analog. The information is in binary format, such as 0 and 1 or on and off. Keeping these traits in mind, let’s consider what the real world is like. The real world cannot be simply labeled as black or white, nor even gray. Rather, reality is multicolored with different textures and layers. And it is often analog, though it can be less efficient, perfect and speedy, that best captures the humane quality and human imperfections we face in the world.
2. Real Things and Why They Matter
Not So Surprising Phenomenon: The Revival of Analog
There has been undeniably a rapid digitization in our lives. According to the British social media company “We Are Friends”, statistics show that nearly half of the world’s population is using the internet and 37% actively engage in Social Network Services. Also, users of mobile devices, such as smart-phones, account for 66 % of the population. As the digital wave began to sweep the world, people suddenly became aware of these huge changes and alerted that digitization is dominating every part of their lives. In the opposition to such digitization, people started to search for analog experiences, to take some break in a world full of digital gadgets.
A captivating new book, ”The Revenge of Analog,” covering the revival of analog has recently been published. Written by a Canadian freelance journalist, David Sax, the book sounds provocative straight from the title. Underneath the title, the subtitle of the book well encapsulates what the author is trying to say. The subtitle, “Real Things and Why They Matter” implies that real objects refers to analog ones, not the digitized version. The book is composed of nine categories: vinyl, paper, film, board games, printouts, offline markets, labor (not by robots), school (taught by teachers, not smart gadgets) and Silicon Valley (analog atmosphere in companies). These aspects show how digitization does not kill analog features but makes them stronger.
Fever of Long Playing
A classic example that best illustrates the revival of analog is the craze over LP (Long Playing). According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), the number of LPs sold around the world skyrocketed to 32 million units in 2015, compared to only 5 million in 2008. Reuters even reported that "LP will restore the glory it enjoyed in the late 1980s.” A couple of clicks are enough to listen to music. So you might be wondering why people are going after LPs. However, if you forget about the speed, you will encounter the pure joy of listening to music. A fancy phrase to express this can be the aesthetics of slowness. The preparation process for listening to music is seen as active participation rather than going through inconvenience. In addition, digital music has no form, but LPs do. Analog experiences can provide us with the kind of real-world pleasures and rewards that digital ones cannot. If you put the LP on the table, you can hear a screeching sound for four to five seconds. Even that feels like a fleeting moment to many!
3. Harmony between Digital and Analog
Have you ever heard of Gudak, one of the popular apps on the Apple App Store? Similar to an old camera, it can take only 24 pictures in one film. Due to the minimal screen size for filming, it will take more practice. The main feature of Gudak is that you can't see the pictures you took. To see the picture, you should wait about three days, just like the times when you ran to photo studio and waited for days for the pictures to come out. Scientists say that the human duration for oblivion is three days on average. Three days later, it is almost forgotten. However if you repeat your memory, the memory will change into a long-term memory. The founders said "These days, the act of taking pictures has become a mere doing of selecting one out of many. It sounds very unfortunate that these photos are deemed to be meaninglessly filling up the volume in your memory card. We hope that from Gudak, we can bring back the virtue of taking photos.”
A new trend is forming across society, culture, and industry: analog features supplementing digital technology. Digitization has brought tremendous growth to humankind. However, the realization came that only the advancement of digital technology in the 21st century cannot capture the minds of the current consumers. Rather than relying solely on digital factors, analog sentiments should be respected and harmonized. Many people agree that the best digital form is the one that is based in warmth and humane emotion.
So far, digital technology has raced breathlessly. The same is also true for people. To keep up with the digital wave, we have run at full speed, with no time to look back. We have thought that old analog ways were obsolete and had even gone extinct. However, through a quiet yet gradual resurrection of analog, we now clearly see that it has never gone away. It was only hidden from us. Like turning on the LP, the powerful play goes on and analog may contribute a verse.