Review - The Revenge of Analog

Review: The Revenge of Analog by David Sax. 

Welcome to IRL.

by Christopher Lomax, Founder, Mantle.

I did not pick up The Revenge of Analog to reinforce the things I was already doing: shopping in bookstores, listening to vinyl, writing on Moleskines, or starting an IRL ("in real life" - just learned that one) social network. But, that's the lesson I took away from reading David Sax's book.

Now, It could be surmised that I loved this book because it reinforces all the things that I like and do as important... there is probably some truth to that - I am human after all and instinctively think I am the trendiest person on the planet - maybe I do seek out information that tells me as much. However, David Sax's theory in tROA is a theory that I never had - or - at the very least - had yet to put together. 

The Revenge of Analog is about human connection with other humans and returning to that connection from our over correction to digital technology. It is about feeling, seeing, tasting, and processing the actual world.

Analog is the yin to digital’s yang, the day to its night. It doesn’t require a computer to function, and most often analog exists in the physical world," writes Sax in tROA. "Certain technologies and processes that had recently been rendered “obsolete” suddenly began to show new life, even as the world around them was increasingly driven by digital technology. It was as though analog was becoming relevant, right as its very obsolescence was supposedly assured. The Revenge of Analog represented and reimagined value for nondigital goods, services, and ideas, precisely when the transition from analog to digital was supposed to be total. But as digital technology assumed an increasingly large role in our lives, it almost seemed as if an alternative, post digital economy was emerging as well.”

As mentioned, I wish I could say I was the butterfly's wings in the vinyl revolution, but sadly I stole that love from one of my all time favorite people, my college buddy Tom Caughlin. The minute he put on a record while I was visiting his home in Houston I was hooked. I immediately put a record player and a pile of records on my upcoming Christmas List.

Many of those records are on our Vinyl Bookshelf today!

Later, once I had the same set up in my home, claiming credit for the new trend of course, friends would stop by and I would throw on The Beatles or Taylor Swift or N.E.R.D. In the lengthy process of putting on music, they would ask me: why do you like vinyl? Vinyl's dead right? Just throw on Spotify and stream it to the Sonos and call it a day!

I would respond that I love vinyl because you actually "listen" to the music - you don't just hear it. When listening to a vinyl record versus putting on a digital playlist, you engage with the record - you flip through the heavy stacks, you feel their weight, you gaze at the foot-by-foot artwork that adorns every album cover, you place the fragile needle down onto the record.

All that hard work before you sit down and start listening. Then, just when you get good and settled in, you have to flip the record or find something new to put on in only three or four songs.

Don't go far! You might as well sit down and listen to the music - not just hear it.

The same return to analog goes for the bullet journal that I keep in a classic black Moleskine - the same one in which I originally wrote about in this article.

I have struggled to keep a journal in the past, but keeping an actual journal I found to be easier. Not perfect, but easier than digital. Maybe it's because no one can hack my journal - unless I straight-up neglect it or lose it (and that can happen, ask my wife) or it is stolen. Maybe it's because the actual book of blank pages, or the actual pen, or the wieildiness of it all make for a more focused endeavor. I can't bounce out of my journal app and check my twitter feed if the writing gets tough. I won't see that email that pops into my notifications. The distractions are limited to only my analog kids, wife, or dog.

Real Life...

You know, the one that we truly can't live without. That's the one that is baked into our DNA. It's the relationships that don't really exist online or in digital. Your friends and connections aren't really your "friends" or "connections" - they are your acquaintances. They don't want to help you or ever be nice to you. They just want your name in their "friends" tab. You are just a number. That is all, really. Sure, that's a very harsh take on it, but I don't think I am all that far off!

Sax put it this way: "Analog provides a potential solution to this. If social networks and online communities are able to transcend their virtual existence into some form of real-life interaction, they can build a genuine sense of belonging among users."

Its a novel idea. What if the digital tools were just that: tools. What if they helped you connect, not be the final connection.

A relatively unknown (at least to me) but important early founder of online social networks is Catarina Fake, one of the founders of Flickr. In a recent interview with LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman's on his podcast Masters of Scale, Caterina dove into her history with social networks and investing in internet companies: 

"A very strong motivating force in the work that I have done has been building a more human internet; building a very thoughtful, people oriented internet. If you look at the companies I subsequently invested in after Flickr, they have a lot of things in common. Etsy* is a very strong example of that as it is a very community oriented product, it is very person to person, it is very human." (Caterina Fake on Masters of Scale, Season 2 #16.)

* Note: Etsy is another of Caterina's investments - that's right Flickr AND Etsy. Listen up folks!

The point Caterina is harping on - personal interaction - is why I think that places like Mantle. are important. Even with our new digital memberships, you are creating more quality connections and friends. Even if you meet someone through one of our new digital groups, you are still going to run into that person, whether it is over a beer or a popsicle, or at an event that was organized around that digital group, or while eating, shopping or working out at one of our City Club Partners. Sure, you won't have thousands of people in your friends tab, but when you ask me for a favor, I will probably be more likely to oblige you because I know you. I met you. We had a beer together. I told you I would reach out and connect you with someone else. You are one of my few analog friends and connections!

I will do it because I said I would and it will really mean something to our analog connection.

At Mantle. we are building a more human internet like Fake was talking about. That is why our new tag line is "A New Take on an Old School Professional and Social Network." Analog is back. Come on over to Mantle. and reach out and make a new, old school connection.

 

Christopher Lomax is the Founder of Mantle., a company that provides the space and the tools for starting and growing your life's great work and networks.