The Revenge of Analog

The Revenge of Analog

Real Things and Why They Matter

Book - 2016
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"By now, we all know the mythology of the digital revolution: it improved efficiency, eliminated waste, and fostered a boom in innovation. But as business reporter David Sax shows in this clear-sighted, entertaining book, not all innovations are written in source code. In fact, businesses that once looked outdated are now springing with new life. Behold the Revenge of Analog. Sax has found story after story of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and even big corporations who've found a market selling not apps but real, tangible things. As e-books are supposedly remaking reading, independent bookstores have sprouted up across the country. As music supposedly migrates to the cloud, vinyl record sales have grown more than ten times over the past decade, generating more than half a billion dollars in 2015 alone. Even the offices of Silicon Valley icons like Google and Facebook increasingly rely on analog technologies like pen and paper for their business. Sax's work reveals not just an underreported trend in business, but a more fundamental truth about how humans shop, interact, and even think. Blending psychology and observant wit with old-fashioned reportage, Sax shows that humans need to work, sell, and live in the real world--not on a screen"--
Publisher: New York :, PublicAffairs,, [2016]
Edition: First Edition.
ISBN: 9781610395717
Branch Call Number: 306.3 SA
Characteristics: xix, 282 pages ; 25 cm


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Apr 19, 2019

I found copies of this book in the clearance/remainders section in the Northgate Indigo and noted that EPL allowed access to the audio book especially after noting some of the reader comments here and on Goodreads. I was expecting little analysis and lots of cherry-picked facts drenched in hipster drivel. Yes, the author listed many "facts" and examples and it is true that for the amount of data that he has included he seems to have revealed little in the way of original analysis. However, intentional or not, this author's balance of "data" to "analysis" that it seems like so many negative reviewers have noted allowed me to begin to come to some of my own conclusions and to do further research. I felt that leaving some open-ended discussion allowed me to think for myself. As a working photographer who happens to work extensively with both digital capture and with film including colour processing and drum scanning of film for other shooters with respectable vinyl record and reel-to-reel tape platforms at my studio, an avid handwritten note-taker and letter-writer, and a wearer of handmade mechanical wrist watch I definitely found that thinking and digging deeper into some of the author's analysis and his chosen examples led to some significant differences of opinion. For example, I think that while I like the formfactor of a standard Moleskine notebook I think that there are a number of other manufacturers that build the notebooks with significantly better paper of more consistent quality that works well with liquid ink and that regardless of the excuses made and reconciliation attempted for why Impossible Project film is so terrible I can't accept that its poor quality is being used as sort of a selling feature. However, I also believe it is important that we use Sax's examples and analyses as a starting point to finding solutions or addressing linear thinking and workflows in which many of us may have become immersed and not become trapped by minutiae.

Overall, a thought-provoking book and an enjoyable read/listen. After completing my play through of the audio book I scooped every clearance-priced copy I could find and I have been gifting them to friends and colleagues. I found this book to be an interesting prologue to _You may also Like_ by Tom Vanderbilt.

Apr 03, 2019

"The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter" by David Sax is the sort of extended feature that might appear in a magazine or weekend newspaper. Sax explores this in a book-length format that tends towards repetition. There are plenty of fun facts but little actual data that convincingly positions something other than nostalgia as the driver of what may be only passing fads.

May 22, 2018

Meh. The author cherry picks the cases/arguments he makes for why analog is making a come back. For every one argument he makes for, an educated reader can make two or three arguments against.

All in all an interesting read even if the author over-uses the word revenge throughout the book.

Sep 01, 2017

Plain and simple, as members of the human race, we have basic needs for interaction with other human beings; physical, tactile, reality-based experiences; and a psyche that won't be fooled by, or satisfied with, digital substitutes. The proponents of an all-digital world are being taught an expensive and shocking lesson. As much as I embrace this message, I found the book itself slightly boring, devoting way more words and space to each topic than necessary. I can't necessarily recommend spending hours reading the book. After all, the title pretty much tells the entire story!

Jul 04, 2017

The chapter on film photography is quite interesting. I am not surprised that film photography is making a comeback. You cannot take proper photos with a 2.0 Megapixel cellphone camera. To take proper digital photos, you need to spend at least $600. on a smartphone camera or pay at least $600. for a digital camera. Yes, digital photography eliminates the cost of expensive film. However, the cost of a good 35. mm. analog camera was half as much as the price of a digital camera. Consequently, there is no compelling reason to switch to digital photography. I would rate "The Revenge of Analog" at 4.0 stars.

Jun 26, 2017

An interesting read, and makes you think about deciding which digital technology to embrace and which to not.

Jun 08, 2017

While the title is deliberately provocative, this is really more like a testimonial on behalf of things that are real than a call for revenge. Much of what Sax says is reassuring, optimistic that we have not become irreversibly hostage to digitally based technology. But in places, it strikes me as wishful thinking, especially in the chapter titled Revenge of Work. Sorry, but those "blue collar" jobs are not coming back. Some went to China, the rest no longer exist anywhere. Technology has not replaced old jobs with "new economy" jobs -- it has replaced them with permanent unemployment for some and poverty-level McJobs for others. Technology is busily destroying the middle class, taking the economic structure of the western world back 150 years to the start of the industrial revolution. The spread between entry level wages and those of senior executives grows wider by the day. On the other hand, in his chapter on education Sax really offers great insight and hope for the future. He makes a compelling case on behalf of the value of those so-called "soft skills" like empathy, collaboration, critical thinking which are entirely the domain of human instinct and socialization -- a field that the digital domain cannot address.
Overall, a very thought-provoking book, impressively researched.

SPL_Sonya May 31, 2017

The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter written by David Sax is an exploration into society's growing desire for more tactile, human-centric experiences. This insight first revealed itself to the author in 2012, when he noticed a record store open in his Toronto neighbourhood. After spending a decade replacing physical music collections with virtual ones, music lovers were rediscovering the pleasure of physically browsing and buying music and record stores are thriving. Most significant is the demographic buying these records -- young music lovers who grew up with digital music!

The author soon discovered that the very human need for social interactions and the need for all of our senses to be stimulated are at the heart of the revenge of analog.

Board Game Cafes are increasing in popularity, encouraging players to create and maintain real friendships. Paintball and Escape Rooms replicate video games but provide a real experience and social interaction. Niche focused print magazines are providing a venue for bloggers who want a level of credibility that isn't achievable online. Independent bookstores are growing once again with a clientele who appreciate the assistance of staff who can link their reading tastes with recommendations. Analog schools have proven to be a better learning environment. Children need to physically touch, smell and, yes, even taste paint. Tech companies design analog work spaces with white boards, ping pong tables and free meals to encourage more interpersonal interaction and collaboration in a workplace which would otherwise lean toward isolation.

Sax, a writer and reporter, concludes that as digital technology continues to rightfully thrive, the more important analog becomes to our overall well being.

This insightful, well researched and thoroughly documented book is available at the Stratford Public Library through our Perth County Information Network of Libraries in print, e-book and audio formats.

Mar 24, 2017

I liked this book. It wasn't political, pretentious, or academic. It didn't drag on. It pointed out the shortcomings of our culture's worship of tech as a be all and end all savior.

Mar 13, 2017

I got this book because I am someone who buys records, has multiple magazine subscriptions, a NYTimes subscription, you know the target audience for this type of book.

However this book would make a great article in the New Yorker, or the Sunday NYT magazine. Just the intro, a few paragraphs from the 1st chapter, a few paragraphs on education/tech failure, and a good bit from the epilogue.

The rest of the book is utter garbage. I don't know know how many times I said to myself after finishing some grandiose over generalized pronouncement by this author with: No, actually that is not how it works, or how it happened.

Time and time again, this author took bits of information, and jammed it into his predetermined narrative, and if it did not fit nice and neatly, he just glossed right over it with some grand pronouncement.

This book is not worth the time investment.

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Dec 27, 2016

"The younger someone was, the more digitally exposed their generation was, the less I found them enamoured by digital technology, and the more they were wary of its effects. [...] These kids revered analog. They craved it. And they were more articulate about its benefits than was anyone else I spoke with."

Dec 27, 2016

"In the end, we are analog machines and these things tend to work with us. People who are versatile in the analog world make better digital stuff." (Kevin Kelly, founding editor of Wired magazine)


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