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Analog forever
The digital onslaught is not unopposed

01/12/12
By John Andrews jandrews@hippopress.com



Just as cell phones haven’t replaced land lines (or desktop computers, for that matter), there’s always a place for older technology. Folks still ride horses and cook over campfires because while there may be more convenient ways to accomplish the same main objective, the sum total of the experience isn’t the same.

With everything going digital, it’s healthy to take a look at stuff without microprocessors. Especially since those won’t work after the aliens/robots/terrorists hit us with EMPs.

• Music: Last week, we discussed all the confusing ways music gets from some medium to your ears through a stereo system. Few people honestly long for the days of eight-track tapes going CLUNK in their car dash; I guess it’s easy to transfer tapes quickly? My first Google result for “8 track advantages” was a thoroughly sarcastic Top 10 list, so I don’t know.

Cassettes have the advantage of being easily recordable; even that little tab you break off to prevent recording can be overridden with a bit of masking tape. But vinyl records have always been the pretentious enthusiast’s pick for avoiding digital music on CDs and MP3s. It has to be more than just DJs and hipsters, too — according to Neilsen, LP/vinyl album sales actually increased a whopping 36.3 percent, from 2.8 million to 3.9 million, between 2010 and 2011.

• Books
: E-books took a while to get off the ground, but boy have they ever taken off. Amazon reported last May that it was selling more electronic books than physical books. Just ask any librarian, English major or plain old reading nerd, though: paper books aren’t going anywhere. It’s still easier to buy a book as a gift — what reader does the giftee own? What do you wrap? And if you think about that stat for a moment, you can come up with plenty of reasons e-books saw such a quick rise: lots of them are free or very cheap; they can be purchased right from the Kindle; they’re only available as e-books because they’re your cousin’s high fantasy septilogy he self-published.

Really, does one need any more evidence of the staying power of books than Admiral Kirk’s copy of A Tale of Two Cities in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan? He reads that sucker with glasses, man. Because he’s allergic to Retinax.

• Cameras: My wife got a Diana F+ camera for Christmas. It’s one of those Lomography film cameras with lo-fi effects like multiple exposures and light leaks. Since I bought her a sleek digital camera just recently, I was of course furious. No, wait, I was thrilled, because like other analog formats, film is now just another medium. We’re used to glancing at the LCD screen on the back of the camera after every shot now, but film forces you to learn the best settings and techniques for different situations. You’re also not pulled out of the moment as much; instead of reviewing, you keep shooting. Maybe you’ll burn a few rolls of film on terrible shots, but you’ll learn more.

I won’t even try to cover as many reasons to use both film and digital cameras as KenRockwell.com. Suffice to say that if manufacturers are still selling film to professionals, especially for large-format cameras, it must be viable. Until we have, you know, quantum cameras or something.

What is that Pinterest junk? I’ll always stay at twitter.com/CitizenjaQ.






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