Buy This Book


“In an increasingly digital world where physical objects and experiences are being replaced by virtual ones, Mr. Sax concludes, “analog gives us the joy of creating and possessing real, tangible things”: the hectic scratch of a fountain pen on the smooth, lined pages of a notebook; the slow magic of a Polaroid photo developing in front of our eyes; the satisfying snap of a newspaper page being turned and folded back; the moment of silence as the arm of an old turntable descends toward a shiny new vinyl disk and the music begins to play.

In reporting this book, Mr. Sax says he found that it was less a case of older generations reaching back to familiar formats from their youth than teenagers and 20-somethings discovering turntables and LPs, paperback novels and film cameras. “The younger someone was, the more digitally exposed their generation was,” he writes near the end of this book, “the less I found them enamored by digital technology, and the more they were wary of its effects.” These kids were falling in love with analog.” Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times

Fascinating read, repeating a lot of what I’ve been saying here, albeit much more coherently.

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8 thoughts on “Buy This Book

  1. Harry B Houchins

    Put it on order from my library…

    “Fascinating read, repeating a lot of what I’ve been saying here, albeit much more coherently.”

    You do yourself an injustice…

  2. Rob Campbell

    It’s a bit difficult for me to accept the premise. I am certainly not young, though I distinctly recall thinking that once I was, and am probably considered very old by the young. However, I don’t remember ever subscribing to the concept of the new necessarily being better than the status quo with which I felt satisfied. In camera terms, I was extremely disappointed when the Nikon F4 was released, finding its film-loading system a disaster, and I traded backwards buying an F3, which I had originally (and mistakenly), imagined to be obsolete when the F4 came out.

    There is one benefit to digital: once bought, a card lasts a helluva long time, and saves money. But. But, what’s actually there once you’ve made the image as you want it to be on your computer? Nothing tangible. You have to make a print to get there, and of my thousands of Kodachromes, only a tiny number ever saw the light of day as print. But, at no further cost than the sleeves, they were there, and accessible, for as long as I or a client wanted them to be. Nobody, with any certainty, can say that about a set of files. The best you can do is make back-ups, but if file systems change then all of that becomes redundant and you’d have to act damned quickly to make something new and compatible with whatever comes along as the new best thing. (And AFAIK, Kodak had intended their digital photography platforms to be for amateurs, possibly because of the problems they could forsee… damned genni!)

    I can’t agree that it’s all simply about tactile experiences, though; more is it to do with a sense of security of tenure of your work or purchases. In truth, operating an F is very little different to shooting with a D700 if, like me, you cut out every automatic trick that the camera might want to do for you, other than auto ISO which, when I want it, is a godsend. Add Matrix metering to the mix, and I no longer even need a light meter. It’s also why Photoshop by subscription doesn’t strike me as friendly an attitude as selling me a CD: I see much of modernity as just another convenient way to gouge.

    I still have a stack of LPs, but hardly ever play them; ditto CDs. My preferred musical source these days is Internet radio or You Tube. I can make lists of numbers I like, which is way better than buying an LP and thinking at least sixty percent of it padding with second-class material in an effort to fill two sides.

    I guess one can’t generalize; there’s good and bad to both analogue and digital, but that doesn’t stop people rushing into print to do just that. Makes their world go round.


  3. Wayne

    “The lack of variety can, itself, be sensed as a satisfaction when it has been preceded by a variety of dis satisfactions. “


    It is mind-blowing how the ancients so simply, completely, and elegantly address the day-to-day frustrations presenting themselves, daily, to modern man. I think Epicurus pretty well sums up any drive, away from modern technology, that may be developing.

  4. Mike Randolph

    Sadly, not available on Kindle!

    Actually, I’m only half joking. I am a keen fan of analogue experiences and especially when it comes to books. But just to argue against myself, I am an avid reader and the advantages of digital books are hard to ignore. Wherever I find myself, whether it’s in an airport or sitting in a cafe, I have hundreds of books on my phone, all the time. If you read only a few books a year, buy paper. But if you read a lot, Kindle is wonderful.

    I guess my point is this, and here is where it relates to photography: Aesthetically, analogue is better. But digital is just so damn convenient.

  5. Rob Campbell


    From Peter Lindbergh’s website, a quotation from a news item of something he’d said:

    ““Photographers are becoming a button….It’s disastrous,” he said. “Digital for me stays exactly like film was before. The quality of the image is different, but this you can go anywhere you want with Photoshop. We do Photoshop only to make pictures not look like digital because it’s cold and awful and technical. But the biggest change is that you’re not intimate anymore with the model. That’s what is going to destroy photography and that’s what’s going to destroy photographers because they’re not going to want to be photographers anymore in 10 years, I’m sure. It has become a democratic process and that’s going nowhere, everybody talks into the picture, that’s awful. That’s the most embarrassing thing.”

    Who can argue? With twenty people looking into a tethered monitor and offering their tuppence-worth, who owns the goddam shot? Where the personal charge, the buzz, the satisfaction of creating something your own? Maybe it means, basically, that only the totally business-minded will take up professional photography, and the artists who once flocked to it as a wonderful outlet for their creativity, will do something else.


  6. Dave

    I was excited to get the book and let down when it fell into a pattern: My cool friends and I like to do something. Here’s a place that does it too.
    Lather, rinse Repeat.

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