Craving Analog In A Digital World
"We are living in an increasingly digital world that craves analog sensation."*
Digital is ubiquitous.
From our work to our hobbies to our entertainment to our commerce, the digital-to-analog ratio in our lives has ramped up exponentially over the last two decades. To the point where the promise of digital has now become very much a reality.
It has transformed almost everything we do. We listen to music on our phones, stream movies over the internet, buy almost everything through online retailers and even share our personal successes, trials and tribulations via digital communities of one form or another.
But as we've marched into our digital futures, what's become clear - what's become pronounced - is the value we place on the one thing that, by definition, digital can never offer us: analog sensation.
Vinyl records. Board games. The weight and feel of a physical book. We value the tactile feedback, the sensation, the experience.
A conversation, a handshake, an embrace. It's why, despite the rise of digital communities, the need for human contact remains ever more vital.
Indeed, the more we embrace the digital realm, the more we need (crave) analog to ground us in our humanity. The more we understand and value the analog experience. And strangely, the more analog becomes a differentiator.
Because we value the experience it affords us. The physical engagement. The tactile sensation.
There's a visceral element to it. Where we're getting in touch with our true selves, where we are all social creatures, but just to different degrees.
In fact, if you look at the innovators and game changers in the retail world, those are the ones who are carefully integrating the analog with the digital, who are capturing the consumer imagination. Warby Parker, Bonobos, Allbirds and, of course, Amazon among others. For them, it is about the customer experience.
I think when we look back on this time a few decades into the future, we'll probably see this as a pendulum shift. What started out as entirely analog (pre-80's) became heavily digital (the last decade and a half) and will now move to some sort of equilibrium.
We will always value the digital (and its transformative impact), but we will recognize and value the analog just as much, because, at the end of the day, it speaks, in many ways, to who we are.
*I heard this great quote from a speaker at the ShopTalk18 conference.