Back to analogue

Is it just me? Or have others noticed it? Is analogue making a comeback?

Some time ago, going digital was hip. It first came to my attention in the early 1980s when CDs emerged. The vinyl record, already suffering quite a deal from the convenience of the cassette tape, appeared doomed. I was all for it. Then came email in the early 1990s. The internet. Digital photography. The MP3 and ipod followed. Brilliant! Somewhere in there was the e-book reader, the kindle and its brethren. Skype phone calls. The iPhone, iOS, Android. All of these developments were fantastic, at the time. Onward and upward.

Or so it seemed to me.

Nicholas Carr was in Melbourne around 8 years ago promoting his book The Shallows. I attended one of his speaking engagements. It was virtually standing room only. I suspected then that there was a widespread, and deep-seated, concern that digitalizing our lives may not be a universal good.

I wrote a letter last week to an old friend. A personal letter, written with pen and paper and then posted. It was on the occasion of a birthday. It was a personal message on one page. We see each other quite regularly and correspond by email and phone usually. Writing that letter felt a little odd.  But it also felt personal, private, direct and meaningful.

I printed a photograph recently. It was the first in many years, and I used a commercial printer, having sent a digital photo. That printed photo is now on the first page of a new physical photo album. My film camera is in a cupboard. It rests there, as it has done, since around the turn of the century. I suspect that it needs to start limbering up for a revival. Film is making a comeback, too.

I have a Kindle e-reader. For years, I thought it was brilliant – small, convenient, so easy to use, it could carry a veritable library. But I now know that I prefer to browse second hand book shops and read paper.

I gave away my vinyl record player. All my records went, too. Now, I have an iTunes account. I don’t remember the password, so I know that soon I will be locked out and will be forced to go through that Apple experience of recovering a password.

I don’t think that I am alone in preferring pen and ink, paper, printed photographs, books, vinyl records and personal experiences that are not monitored by Google or Facebook.

Analogue survives, I believe. But how can I be sure?