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One of Michiko Kakutani's (New York Times) top ten books of 2016 A funny thing happened on the way to the digital utopia. We've begun to fall back in love with the very analog goods and ideas the tech gurus insisted that we no longer needed. Businesses that once looked outdated, from film photography to brick-and-mortar retail, are now springing with new life. Notebooks, r One of Michiko Kakutani's (New York Times) top ten books of 2016 A funny thing happened on the way to the digital utopia. We've begun to fall back in love with the very analog goods and ideas the tech gurus insisted that we no longer needed. Businesses that once looked outdated, from film photography to brick-and-mortar retail, are now springing with new life. Notebooks, records, and stationery have become cool again. Behold the Revenge of Analog. David Sax has uncovered story after story of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and even big corporations who've found a market selling not apps or virtual solutions but real, tangible things. As e-books are supposedly remaking reading, independent bookstores have sprouted up across the country. As music allegedly migrates to the cloud, vinyl record sales have grown more than ten times over the past decade. Even the offices of tech giants like Google and Facebook increasingly rely on pen and paper to drive their brightest ideas. Sax's work reveals a deep truth about how humans shop, interact, and even think. Blending psychology and observant wit with first-rate reportage, Sax shows the limited appeal of the purely digital life-and the robust future of the real world outside it.


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One of Michiko Kakutani's (New York Times) top ten books of 2016 A funny thing happened on the way to the digital utopia. We've begun to fall back in love with the very analog goods and ideas the tech gurus insisted that we no longer needed. Businesses that once looked outdated, from film photography to brick-and-mortar retail, are now springing with new life. Notebooks, r One of Michiko Kakutani's (New York Times) top ten books of 2016 A funny thing happened on the way to the digital utopia. We've begun to fall back in love with the very analog goods and ideas the tech gurus insisted that we no longer needed. Businesses that once looked outdated, from film photography to brick-and-mortar retail, are now springing with new life. Notebooks, records, and stationery have become cool again. Behold the Revenge of Analog. David Sax has uncovered story after story of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and even big corporations who've found a market selling not apps or virtual solutions but real, tangible things. As e-books are supposedly remaking reading, independent bookstores have sprouted up across the country. As music allegedly migrates to the cloud, vinyl record sales have grown more than ten times over the past decade. Even the offices of tech giants like Google and Facebook increasingly rely on pen and paper to drive their brightest ideas. Sax's work reveals a deep truth about how humans shop, interact, and even think. Blending psychology and observant wit with first-rate reportage, Sax shows the limited appeal of the purely digital life-and the robust future of the real world outside it.

30 review for The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter

  1. 5 out of 5

    hedgehog

    1.5* rounded down. Focusing each chapter on a specific company helps narrow the focus on larger industries to useful, specific anecdotes, but has the unfortunate effect of sounding like breathless advertisements for said company. "The Revenge of Paper" is twenty pages of shilling for Moleskine. Other chapters aren't much better: the resurgence of physical goods felt like less to do with the so-called revenge of analog and more due to the application of clever advertising strategies. Not once but 1.5* rounded down. Focusing each chapter on a specific company helps narrow the focus on larger industries to useful, specific anecdotes, but has the unfortunate effect of sounding like breathless advertisements for said company. "The Revenge of Paper" is twenty pages of shilling for Moleskine. Other chapters aren't much better: the resurgence of physical goods felt like less to do with the so-called revenge of analog and more due to the application of clever advertising strategies. Not once but several times, Sax comes right up to the realization that the "revenge" of analog products has much to do with the acquisition of them as status symbols and then... is too unaware to process this? Doesn't think it's worth discussing? Throughout the book are quotes like "Print [...] had become a luxury item", and "Books are an aspirational consumer product". Sure, of course. As technology (or nearly anything else) becomes more affordable and commonplace, the goalposts of wealth and status shift. There's a strong socioeconomic factor re: what is marketed as desirable. That's surely worth some consideration; at the very least, it's not negligible. This book repeatedly skates right by that. There are some relevant insights on how analog methods differ from digital ones in the work and education chapters, but for the sections on consumer products, the answer to the title - why analog matters - seems largely to be "because it's what cool (rich) people do". Obviously, there are differences between digital and analog. Obviously, there are pros and cons for each, and the human brain handles data from different sources... differently. If you're not going to delve into the science or psychology of this topic, and are instead trying to argue for analog as a way to increase one's social cachet, then at least engage with or even bother to identify that core premise. Sax's failure to do either made Revenge of Analog a nonstarter for me. (The last chapter of this book, "The Revenge of Summer", centers around a tech-free summer camp that the author mentioned attending as a child. In 2017, the 7-week program costs nearly nine thousand dollars. Such people may well attribute the comeback of, e.g., vinyl records, to factors like nostalgia and having a physical collection, instead of *cough* unimportant factors like a.) physical space for storage, b.) money!!!, c.) leisure time to procure and play their finds, and d.) who has the capability to have A-C.)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Noah Nichols

    This one was an interesting read about the cancer-spreading nature of our unified reliance on ever-evolving technology. Some parts do drag a tad (like the parts about paper and online storefronts shipping orders), but there is a lot to enjoy here. Side note: I've noticed many reviewers slamming the writer of this book, and I just have to wonder why that is. In my eyes, he's not pushing an agenda on anyone! I feel like the people who get upset about books exploring this important topic are closet This one was an interesting read about the cancer-spreading nature of our unified reliance on ever-evolving technology. Some parts do drag a tad (like the parts about paper and online storefronts shipping orders), but there is a lot to enjoy here. Side note: I've noticed many reviewers slamming the writer of this book, and I just have to wonder why that is. In my eyes, he's not pushing an agenda on anyone! I feel like the people who get upset about books exploring this important topic are closet addicts to their devices and it's hard for them to realize just how bad they've become. Denial is a hell of a drug. I totally get it. Really, I do! Anyway, there were several sections of The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter that intrigued me greatly. And said sections still do provoke thought and reflection. I found the area about film in all its variations to be especially enjoyable. Also the board game chapter discussing their surprising rise back to prominence was a pleasant highlight. An honorable mention goes to the dissection of vinyl's relevance in mainstream music culture nowadays. For me, this book will be even more amusing to read in about twenty years—that is, if I am lucky to live that long—when we all become bigger addicts/slaves to our digital time-killers (in whatever shape they may take); not to mention the amusement I gather visualizing our upcoming text neck issues that are surely bound to surface in droves. Maybe authorities are going to put a stop to all that since they're now passing laws banning you from looking down at your phone whilst crossing the street. I'm not being sarcastic; it's a real thing happening in Honolulu. Don't believe? Read (!): http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/29/us/smar... How laughably INSANE is that? It's gotten so prevalent (and so dangerous) that they've actually had to enact a law on our growing addiction—and our growing preference—to gazing downward to a precious, glassy distraction. Wild! While it's true that we may have more options at our disposal and more convenience is presented so rapidly to us in every facet of our daily lives now, I pose but just one question to you: do we really have it any better than the other less-distracted generations who went without such frivolous and shallow perks? In a way, it makes me kind of sick to think about how spoiled we are as a society these days. It's only getting worse, too. Not better. Never better! We take every throwaway luxury for granted more often than not. And that's the confounding problem in and of itself—the widespread desensitization to electronic elation. But what's more intoxicating to the lonely than a smartphone screen in the evening? Nothing; that's what, honestly. Suddenly I'm feeling a little verklempt. Type amongst yourselves...I'll give you a topic. The Internet is neither an inter nor a net. Discuss.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elena

    The personality of the author (sensed through his comments) was close to unpleasant. I managed to go through about 1/2 of the book and returned my digital audio file back to the library as soon as i reached the spot where the author described how he returned shoes to a store in one year after wearing them... Somewhat interesting were chapters on board game renaissance and romantic experience of writing in moleskine notebooks. The reason i picked up the book in the first place was my surprise. Wh The personality of the author (sensed through his comments) was close to unpleasant. I managed to go through about 1/2 of the book and returned my digital audio file back to the library as soon as i reached the spot where the author described how he returned shoes to a store in one year after wearing them... Somewhat interesting were chapters on board game renaissance and romantic experience of writing in moleskine notebooks. The reason i picked up the book in the first place was my surprise. Who needs analogue (physical clutter) in the age of mobility and minimalism? After receiving all the arguments, i am still holding to my initial opinion - majority moved on, only special niche markets (consisting likely of those that are too rich, spoiled and bored) are willing to occasionally entertain themselves with something "different" from the current flow. I personally love fabric stuff made in patchwork technique and a lot of niche books are published on the topic. It does not mean, though, that mass home-sewing is returning. Niches are niches, always were, always will be. Globalization and Internet will be able to support such businesses with no problems. Overall, i did not find deep/clever/interesting insights but did hear enough to understand that the author is actively looking for personal investment opportunities and selling some parts of the research to the public in the form of a book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    Subject-wise, the book was intriguing.... but for some reason, the tone of the writing just didn't resonate with me. I felt that, if this book and I were at a party, and we were having a conversation, it would be one of those awkward conversations where I would feel like I'm being lectured to and I would have to feign interest and nod my head like I'm listening, but really I would be coming up with a way to get out of the conversation. 2.5/5 Subject-wise, the book was intriguing.... but for some reason, the tone of the writing just didn't resonate with me. I felt that, if this book and I were at a party, and we were having a conversation, it would be one of those awkward conversations where I would feel like I'm being lectured to and I would have to feign interest and nod my head like I'm listening, but really I would be coming up with a way to get out of the conversation. 2.5/5

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Anthony

    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. Everything else? GARBAGE I don't know know how many times I said to myself after finishing some grandiose 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 prede 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. Everything else? GARBAGE I don't know know how many times I said to myself after finishing some grandiose 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. GARBAGE I found the bit on Ron Johnson, and how he treated this guys story as a perfect encapsulation of how this author selectively uses data and completely ignores data that does not bolster his thesis. He brags about how Ron Johnson came up with the Apple Store and the Genius Bar and turned the Apple Store into a place where people wanted to go, be in the real world, as opposed to virtual, and how that is great because you know, The Revenge of Analog. Then he jumps ahead 12 years to how Ron Johnson is now using that same concept in a new company...But the author completely ignores what happened in-between those 2 events. Ron Johnson went to JC Penny to turn that company around, and use his Apple Store vision, his 'Revenge of Analogue' experience to save JC Penny. What happened? Ron Johnson was fired after quarter after quarter of double digit sales drops, culminating in what people called "the worst quarter in retail history." GARBAGE This is something I know about and caught this author doing, so how many more of these stories was I fed that are on similar shaky ground? I don't know, and that is the problem. I lost trust in this author.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Hilariously, despite several pointed statements in the work that this is better read in analog form, I read it because it was distributed to my Kindle as a galley review copy. I get it, I really do--there are tactile satisfactions to reading a well-produced book, and there is nothing like slamming a heavy landline phone, not to mention that digital music and books don't quite *belong* to you the way a physical object does. But Sax's narrative is then his exploration of the artisan and niche prod Hilariously, despite several pointed statements in the work that this is better read in analog form, I read it because it was distributed to my Kindle as a galley review copy. I get it, I really do--there are tactile satisfactions to reading a well-produced book, and there is nothing like slamming a heavy landline phone, not to mention that digital music and books don't quite *belong* to you the way a physical object does. But Sax's narrative is then his exploration of the artisan and niche production and stores that cater to people who have the luxury of choosing vinyl records, which is interesting, but ultimately unconvincing as a wave of return to "real things."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    If I were reading a physical copy of this book, I would have thrown it at a wall when I was done just to demonstrate the revenge of the analog. This is why this book was frustrating--the intro promises insights as to WHY people are turning to analog and what that MEANS. Instead, it's a bunch of jaunts around the country and chats with people who are into records or making moleskin books or own book shops. That means nothing to me. There are a million other books out there where people are saying If I were reading a physical copy of this book, I would have thrown it at a wall when I was done just to demonstrate the revenge of the analog. This is why this book was frustrating--the intro promises insights as to WHY people are turning to analog and what that MEANS. Instead, it's a bunch of jaunts around the country and chats with people who are into records or making moleskin books or own book shops. That means nothing to me. There are a million other books out there where people are saying the exact opposite with more data. So if you're going to make a claim, you either need data or theory or you can even rely on other people's data or theory (try Neil Postman or Aldous Huxley for a start). You can't just go out there cherrypicking a few people to make a point. And for the record, I buy the argument.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    This is a fascinating examination of aspects and products that we tend to consider over and done with in the digital age. Turns out some things might have more longevity than we think. Author Sax divides his book into two main areas: Part I: The Revenge of Analog Things and Part II: The Revenge of Analog Ideas. The “revenge” aspect reflects that dismissive attitude these things and ideas experienced as digital took hold. For example, chapter 1 discusses an analog thing long considered dead and b This is a fascinating examination of aspects and products that we tend to consider over and done with in the digital age. Turns out some things might have more longevity than we think. Author Sax divides his book into two main areas: Part I: The Revenge of Analog Things and Part II: The Revenge of Analog Ideas. The “revenge” aspect reflects that dismissive attitude these things and ideas experienced as digital took hold. For example, chapter 1 discusses an analog thing long considered dead and buried: vinyl records. Supplanted by compact discs, which in turn has been mostly supplanted by MP3 streaming services. This dealt the music industry a severe blow from which it has only begun to recover. As Sax notes: “Once music was divorced from any physical object, its supply so vastly exceeded demand that people simply refused to pay for it.” Sax accurately notes that what vinyl provided was a sense of acquisition, of ownership, of objects to be handled and displayed. Vinyl, however, is back with a vengeance. Record pressing plants are running 24/7, there's a turntable renaissance and many new record stores are selling vinyl exclusively. (Berlin has over a hundred vinyl stores). Sax goes on to describe similar resurgences in manufacturing analog camera film, in the resurrection of the Moleskine notebook, of magazines, fountain pens and board games. The second half is not about things but about processes, instances where analog has crept into school and work, pushing out digital innovations. This second section beautifully illustrates how analog ideas can aid digital and also times when digital just gets in the way of creativity and communication. One example where analog has come back is the workplace, particularly the workplaces of high tech companies. Adobe teaches their interface designers how to meditate and how to sketch with paper and ink, Yelp provides non tech workspaces, Facebook has the Analog Research Laboratory where a completely analog letterpress is available. The book is a stimulating read about these analog eruptions and although Sax makes it clear that all of these movements are minority events they are occupying serious niches. Sax reminded me of one particular aspect of my analog life, the Saturday morning visits to record and book stores, a search and a browse and all of it hands on, then home to admire, read, listen and place on shelves. That involvement is a big part of what’s missing. In a lovely epilogue Sax returns to the summer camp he attended as a teenager. The camp has a no-technology policy and although there are occasional violations the young people he interviews are mostly OK with a tech free summer camp (Interestingly, it's mostly the parents who want to stay in touch). Sax offers this concluding thought that admirably sums up many of the issues discussed in the book: “No one, including myself, advocated a return to the predigital lives we once knew. No one was flinging their phones into lakes, or exclusively living off the grid. An entirely analog existence was unattainable and unattractive, but so was an exclusively digital one. What was ideal, and what lay behind the Revenge of Analog, was striking a balance between the two."

  9. 4 out of 5

    TJ Wilson

    I have been waiting for a book to come out that says exactly this. I couldn't believe people are still doing film, but when I googled "lomography," I can see why. And I can see "happy accidents" with film being a thing too. It's much better rolling real dice than choosing a random generator on the internet. I get it now. I now understand the resurgance of vinyl and why I choose paper for notes and to-dos and the like. The school bit struck home pretty good as I am a teacher. And I think I've foun I have been waiting for a book to come out that says exactly this. I couldn't believe people are still doing film, but when I googled "lomography," I can see why. And I can see "happy accidents" with film being a thing too. It's much better rolling real dice than choosing a random generator on the internet. I get it now. I now understand the resurgance of vinyl and why I choose paper for notes and to-dos and the like. The school bit struck home pretty good as I am a teacher. And I think I've found that he is right, although I used to be in the other camp, the camp that lauded technology as a huge game-changer. And the irony about all of this is that I'm currently teaching Bradbury's most famous work as I write this. Anyway, I have always thought that the digital momentum is building and going and going, and this reassures me that all my reservations are true. Yes, ebooks are good and great, but real books have a place. I hear echoes of this in Mark Kurlansky's book, Paper. We need analog. And we need digital. It's a pretty good place to be historically. Of course, I say that now.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Charles Haywood

    Although no author likes to have his book lumped with another, this book is an excellent complement to Tim Wu’s "The Attention Merchants." Both books discuss, from different angles, possible practical reactions to the modern dominance of digital toys and tools. Today, when companies such as Facebook and Google are increasingly under fire from across the political spectrum, David Sax’s "The Revenge of Analog" reminds us of one possible response—not attack (although I am personally all for attacki Although no author likes to have his book lumped with another, this book is an excellent complement to Tim Wu’s "The Attention Merchants." Both books discuss, from different angles, possible practical reactions to the modern dominance of digital toys and tools. Today, when companies such as Facebook and Google are increasingly under fire from across the political spectrum, David Sax’s "The Revenge of Analog" reminds us of one possible response—not attack (although I am personally all for attacking such companies), but a return to the active use of pre-digital things. He takes us on a persuasive tour of analog offerings, and makes a compelling case for their continued persistence and growth, even if he seems unaware of some of the less socially beneficial results of that trend. Sax’s premise is that in a range of daily activities, the pendulum has swung away from digital and back towards analog. Not that it will swing all the way back, of course, unless Kim Jong Un nukes us into the nineteenth century, but Sax argues that analog alternatives to digital products will continue to exist and, to some extent, thrive in a world dominated by digital. What this book fails to appreciate, though, is the class divide that is implicit in this vision, with the proletariat inevitably sedated by cheap digital playthings and distractions, funded by continual intrusive and privacy-sucking advertising, while the upper classes fence themselves, and their children, off from the worst aspects of the digital world, which they can do because they have money and time. So, to the extent inequality exacerbated by lack of social mobility is a problem, or we want to reverse the continuing degradation of the lower classes documented by Charles Murray and others, what appears to Sax to be a golden response to digital dominance is instead, or also, another wedge dividing society’s haves from the have-nots. The frame for Sax’s exploration is his traveling around the world examining the analog revival in different areas. Naturally enough, he starts with the analog movement probably most familiar—vinyl records. (Or “big black CDs,” as the son of a friend called them fifteen years ago.) He takes us on a tour of Nashville’s United Record Pressing, which came close to shutting at the nadir of vinyl sales (3 million units worldwide in 2006; it was nearly 15 million in the United States alone in 2017, up from 12 million in 2015, when this book was written). Manufacture of vinyl, not just listening to vinyl, is very analog, involving hot, piped plastic and a great degree of art. This is not semiconductor manufacture. (Generally, most people not involved in light manufacturing, as I am, do not understand the degree of art involved, and the huge variability that exists in an apparently linear manufacturing process, such that you need skilled workers to accomplish anything competently and repeatably. Like most things, it is not as easy as it looks.) Musicians and record companies have also embraced the vinyl revival, in part because profit margins are much higher, but also because for many musicians, in combination with using analog recording equipment, it enables them to create art that hews closer to reality, rather than being manipulated and Auto-Tuned into artificiality and homogeneity. As Dave Grohl says, “I don’t want to know how I can tune my voice, because I want to sound like me.” In these days where reality is rejected as a touchstone in all areas of life, that’s a refreshing view. Along similar lines, Sax quotes studio owner Chris Mara, “[Limitations] move the process forward, in a good way. You can easily get lost in the process. It’s easier to stick to the plan when you have limitations.” Both these things seem very true to me. Finally, and most importantly, music listeners have also embraced vinyl, for a range of reasons, from believing it offers better sound to showing how trendy they are. Most importantly, perhaps, vinyl entirely changes the listening experience, from one where endless immediate options paralyze the ability to choose, and devalue any particular choice, to one where a commitment has to be made to listen to a particular artist in a particular manner, with songs in the order chosen by the artist. Sax is correct that this is a wholly different experience than listing to Apple Music, and he’s convinced me that in my next audio setup I need to get a turntable and rescue all the vinyl still gathering dust at the house where I grew up. Sax next turns to paper, where he focuses on the success of notebook maker Moleskine. That company, which is only twenty years old, was created from scratch, successfully wrapping itself in the cachet of famous artists and writers of the analog era, such as Hemingway and Picasso. This is what Sax accurately calls a “foundational myth,” built around deprioritizing productivity and functionality in favor of “imagination, image and the arts.” (I think Sax overstates the functionality of digital—I’ve gone back to a paper calendar, in large part because it’s more functional than Outlook for most purposes. It’s a Moleskine!) As Sax notes, it’s easier to sell a myth about a physical product, and buying the myth is, like vinyl, a way of showing taste superior to the teeming masses. “Like a Patagonia jacket or a Toyota Prius, it projected someone’s values, interests, and dreams, even if those were divorced from the reality of [his] life.” That said, Moleskine wouldn’t have been successful without the internet, which made selling its foundational myth infinitely easier and cheaper—not through buying ads, but by people being able to see that tastemakers they admired were using Moleskines. Both vinyl and Moleskine are examples that most people could have conjured up if asked where the analog revival is taking place. Film, though, is less obvious, and it is the next topic. Here Sax discusses something that I have personally seen, because my children wanted them—the revival of Polaroid-type cameras, dominated by Fuji’s Instax, nearly permanently discontinued a decade today but now a rapidly growing phenomenon. But mostly he focuses on an attempt in Italy to revive the production of picture film, under the FILM Ferrania brand, once an Italian powerhouse, and now a scrappy company that rescued a tiny percentage of the original company’s immense capital assets from destruction. Sax focuses here because, as he says, “it still takes courage—a lot of it—to start a business like this in the digital era.” Yes, since Sax wrote this book, Sony has begun manufacturing its own vinyl, so these trends spread to giant companies, but such movements are started by people who take enormous risks, often more for the love of it than in hope of financial gain. And, in another irony, the internet made making film possible—a Kickstarter campaign allowed a small group to get enough money for the initial setup of the reborn FILM Ferrania. Each of vinyl, paper, and film offers a mostly individual analog experience—true, such items can be shared, but buying or using them is mostly a personal choice and individual activity. The next topic, board games, is far more social. The nature of digital games is that they are purely atomistic; even if you are playing online against others, for the most part you do not perceive them as real individuals, and you do not have to evaluate and respond to their social cues in any normal way (as can be seen from even a casual glance at the chatter in any online game), or form relationships to achieve success or obtain enjoyment. Board games, which have experienced a tremendous resurgence, fill “the very human need for social interaction.” These are not somewhat old and tired games like Monopoly, but rather a wide range of “artisanal” games, many expensive and limited edition, that a growing number of people organize social events around, and go to cafes and special shops to browse, meet, and play. The game Settlers of Catan was the first big modern success, in the late 1990s, but it has been joined by many others, in which human actions impossible to duplicate by computer, such as negotiation and bluff, play the dominant role. Their success was helped along, again, by the internet, including Kickstarter, and wildly popular game review shows on YouTube, and by related technology, such as 3D printing. These four items Sax defines as “analog things.” The back half of the book is devoted to “analog ideas.” First up is print, by which Sax means periodicals, such as newspapers and magazines. He outlines how digital periodicals have, basically, been a financial disaster for nearly everyone involved, despite utopian hopes of the opposite, and he shows how technology-abetted analog periodicals solve many of the fatal problems of digital media, from reader engagement to stickiness to obtaining decent ad revenue that pays publishers and writers. Convenience isn’t everything, and people tend to refuse to pay for it—in fact, they often dislike the convenience of online reading, because you never feel like you’ve finished. Sax quotes a deputy editor of the Economist, “We sell the feeling of being smarter when you get to the end. It’s the catharsis of finishing.” Ultimately, for most purposes, people prefer paper. Not that paper will defeat digital, but I, at least, have moved wholly back to periodicals on paper (two daily newspapers; multiple magazines), just as if it were 1990. And I’m feeling a lot better for it. Yes, I check online news (though I try to limit it now to twice a day), but any in-depth reading is done on paper, by printing out if necessary. This is the area where I think the analog revival will reach the greatest depth; it would not surprise me if digital publication became a minority of periodicals. The next “idea” is retail. Sax notes the rebirth of real-world bookstores, even from Amazon itself, where people will pay more and put themselves to inconvenience for the experience, both a tactile one, and one of being exposed to promising new books, randomly and by curators who far exceed anything Amazon’s algorithms can (or ever will be able to) offer. He then talks about other retail items with a similar route to success, such as those offered by Alternative Apparel, and the razor-thin margins that online retailers face (especially given the need to offer low-cost or free shipping, due to pressure from Amazon). Even originally purely online companies like Warby Parker and Birchbox have opened retail stores, and the ultimate example, of course, is Apple, whose showcase stores are the highest grossing per square foot of any in the world (Tiffany is second). Sax also touches on the cultural and social problems created by the destruction of independent retail stores by chain stores and Amazon, yet another example of the destruction of intermediary institutions documented most famously by Robert Putnam in "Bowling Alone." Finally, Sax covers work and school. Discussing work, he profiles the high-end watch company Shinola at length, which has brought American manufacturing back to Detroit. (Well, sort of. The FTC takes an aggressive and extra-legal position, not based on any law or regulation, that requires nearly 100% of materials in a product to be of American origin to label something “American-made,” and most of what Shinola does is assembly with foreign parts, so they have since been forced by the FTC to back off on their claims to be “Made In America.”) Sax’s point is broader, though—it is that only by “reskilling,” re-creating lost skills, most of which have been lost to overseas, can places like Detroit experience a renaissance. While he does not go on at length (others have done that persuasively), the idea that outsourcing will make us all better off has been proved stupid, among other reasons because making us all on average better off when the benefits accrue mostly to a small slice at the top means the majority of us are worse off, and because America’s strategic position and future competiveness, and dominance, are thereby shattered. Sax quotes a Detroit real estate developer, “You think you’ll create these live-work-play communities by putting in a Whole Foods. But these people who don’t have jobs and are hungry won’t work-play-live. Mother——s will rob you in the Whole Foods parking lot!” Pretty much. It’s government actively encouraging projects like Shinola’s, rather than choking it like the FTC does, even at the cost of shrieking neoliberal economists, that will, if it is even possible, restore the American middle class. As far as school, Sax sketches how online education has proven a total disaster. Speaking of the failed MOOC Udacity, he notes, “Apparently a lesson about Icarus’s journey to the sun wasn’t included in the Udacity syllabus.” Oof. Moreover, handing out technology such as iPads to students, at the expense of hiring more teachers (and in fact in an attempt to avoid doing so, hoping software will displace teachers) has been an equal disaster. Yet both, especially the latter, keep getting pushed, as I again know from personal experience (though at least my children’s school, a private but nonsectarian one, bans cell phone use). Plus, Sax outlines, electronics are dreadful for young children. To take only one of innumerable examples, finger painting on an app is a pale, pale imitation of what a child gets out of finger painting in real life (which is why our children are effectively banned from all TV and electronics, with minimal occasional, supervised electronic communication for the older ones). Sax believes that analog endures because it can, in some instances, “truly provide us with a better experience. . . . Sometimes analog simply outperforms digital as the best solution.” While there is much truth in this, Sax mostly ignores another possible, perhaps greater, reason for using analog—signaling one’s superiority and virtue. Yes, in the context of Moleskine particularly, he mentions this, but maybe most analog is simply a way of demonstrating one’s membership in the upper classes. Or, more simply, it’s a way of showing taste—as Sax says, in the context of vinyl records, “Nothing is less cool than data.” And if it costs money to signal, so much the better for separating oneself from those who can’t afford it. Sax ends by noting how digital companies have themselves embraced analog-featured offices, and how people with money to send their kids to summer camps costing thousands of dollars are eager to have their children be stripped of electronics for the summer. Sax is right that situations offered by summer camps “eventually lead to individual perseverance and self-respect . . . what most people call character.” But what goes unaddressed is the lack of such effect on the character of those who can’t afford these experiences; whose parents have to work two shifts to make ends meet, and use electronic babysitters, just like everyone they know, to get a little peace and quiet. Nothing good, is the answer. So when Sax says that, in his experience, “The younger someone was, the more digitally exposed their generation was, the less I found them enamored by digital technology, and the more they were wary of its effects,” I wonder if he at all got outside his class bubble. I doubt it. The author’s class bubble is exemplified by two of Sax’s analog “items”: paper periodicals and board games. You can read the news online for free, though you are bombarded with ads and you probably will inexorably be driven towards clickbait and political polarization. Or you can subscribe to a physical newspaper for, say, $300 a year, reading it closely and with consideration. If you make what many people make, that’s nearly a week’s wages. Who among the working class is likely to do that, even if it was a day’s wages? Similarly, artisanal board games easily cost $100, and you’re not likely to buy one if you make $10 an hour. And playing them, since these games are mostly directed at adults, requires free time, where someone else watches the children, as well as a culture that prizes active, social activity over passive immersion in television. Who is going to do that? The upper classes, of course, only, thus increasing social division. So, when Sax notes that one reason analog things are valuable is that “[t]here’s a scarcity factor of physical goods, while digital goods are worthless,” that’s true. But physical goods are not free, and so using analog things becomes something that divides us, rather than something that, when analog was universal, united us. That doesn’t preclude analog offering benefits, but it does suggest that digital’s erosion of our social capital isn’t likely to be substantially reversed even if the analog things and ideas Sax profiles become even more widely adopted.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Darcy McLaughlin

    Revenge of Analog is an interesting book that has a lot to like, but isn't without flaws. I'm glad that Sax explains early on that the book isn't necessarily an "anti-digital" book, and he recognizes that those aspects of the world are things that aren't going away. I do agree with his points about analog things being stimulating to humans, everything appealing about them seems tied into a romanticism that isn't quite possible to explain. Unfortunately this leads to a lot of instances of Sax wax Revenge of Analog is an interesting book that has a lot to like, but isn't without flaws. I'm glad that Sax explains early on that the book isn't necessarily an "anti-digital" book, and he recognizes that those aspects of the world are things that aren't going away. I do agree with his points about analog things being stimulating to humans, everything appealing about them seems tied into a romanticism that isn't quite possible to explain. Unfortunately this leads to a lot of instances of Sax waxing poetic about how wonderful analog things are with just a light amount of research to back it up. One thing this book reminds me is that engaging in this "analog world" is expensive. I love records and would buy a lot more if they weren't so expensive, and now that vinyl is a cool product again prices just continue to rise. This is a theme throughout the book, as Sax talks about paying almost $450 a year to read the Economist and New York Times, or lovingly describes his "analog" summer camp from childhood (which currently costs almost 10 grand per kid!). A lot of these things appeal to me, but I (and a lot of the general public) probably can't afford to regularly drop $20 on a Moleskine notebook. The other weakness I found was the chapter about board games, which felt like a really extended advertisement for Snakes and Lattes. I've actually been a few times, and it's a fine place but Sax depicts it like the vision of geniuses and just overly dramatizes the whole thing. It's a board game café. Essentially it's a fun quick read, especially if you're interested in the topics at hand. Don't expect to go into too much detail regarding the actual psychology behind human interaction with analog things, and you'll probably enjoy it. Random Note: There's no way that ending is real.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lee Barry

    Particularly interesting chapters on vinyl, paper and film. It's heartening to see a resurgence in these areas, but "revenge" is too strong of a word. The good thing about all of them is they don't involve a screen or interface. Particularly interesting chapters on vinyl, paper and film. It's heartening to see a resurgence in these areas, but "revenge" is too strong of a word. The good thing about all of them is they don't involve a screen or interface.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Darren

    Wow! A fascinating book for a modern-day digital junkie who remembers (a lot of) the analogue past and still keeps a lot of analogue material in his life. This book is an appreciation of the analogue world and looks at how it is making a bit of a selected comeback. This is not a manifesto to eschew all things digital. There is something to be said about having hundreds (or more) eBooks with you, instead of carting several packing crates of heavy books around just-in-case or getting the tune you w Wow! A fascinating book for a modern-day digital junkie who remembers (a lot of) the analogue past and still keeps a lot of analogue material in his life. This book is an appreciation of the analogue world and looks at how it is making a bit of a selected comeback. This is not a manifesto to eschew all things digital. There is something to be said about having hundreds (or more) eBooks with you, instead of carting several packing crates of heavy books around just-in-case or getting the tune you want, when you want it, wherever you may be in the world. Digital has its place but analogue can still play its part on your terms. So this look at how some analogue things are coming back in our digital world was a great read (even if there’s a slight irony that this review copy was digital, rather than “dead tree”). The author presents a light-hearted yet immensely informative and well-researched look at individuals and corporations who are making a living from the once-dead analogue world. Within the book were quite a few surprises to this allegedly well-read and informed reviewer. Even more data-points to commit to the old brainbox! For those who crave even more information there are many further reading suggestions at the end of the book. This is a short, but sweet, review. The book doesn’t need any more. It is a book for reading. It is a book that will deliver a great story, backed up by a tremendous amount of information. A great travelling companion or research resource. Highly recommended in other words, whether you consume it digitally or in an analogue format! Autamme.com

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Analog is making a comeback, despite everyone predicting that the future is digital: from a resurgence in sales of vinyl records to drops in ebook sales and new bookstores popping up and thriving, people are craving real things over digital. This book examines several areas of analog's revenge: music, film, gaming, and paper, as well as digital trends and ideas that are slowly reversing, such as a new value in hand-made items and education's need for less digital and more human and tactile eleme Analog is making a comeback, despite everyone predicting that the future is digital: from a resurgence in sales of vinyl records to drops in ebook sales and new bookstores popping up and thriving, people are craving real things over digital. This book examines several areas of analog's revenge: music, film, gaming, and paper, as well as digital trends and ideas that are slowly reversing, such as a new value in hand-made items and education's need for less digital and more human and tactile elements. I personally have reached a digital overload and find myself seeking out the above things (vinyl records, old typewriters) and it was interesting to read about how these things are made and why others find them valuable. I was a little surprised that bullet journaling wasn't mentioned in the section on paper, but the focus was on the brand Moleskine and these journals are used somewhat similarly. I'd recommend this book to anyone who might think the analog revolution is only for hipsters or for nostalgic value. In particular the section on analog vs. digital schooling should be read by everyone in school administration (the teachers already know this stuff!).

  15. 4 out of 5

    Moshe Mikanovsky

    Chapter 8 - The Revenge of School - this is, in my opinion, the most important chapter of the book! I don't know why it doesn't come first in the book, and if you skipped it or quit the book mid-way, you should at least read this one. The reasons for the revenge of dialog are still vague in my mind. I think it's really a matter of personal preferences. As much as some romanticise vinyl records, it's not for everyone. I LOVE printed books and never took on for eBooks, as convenient as they are, b Chapter 8 - The Revenge of School - this is, in my opinion, the most important chapter of the book! I don't know why it doesn't come first in the book, and if you skipped it or quit the book mid-way, you should at least read this one. The reasons for the revenge of dialog are still vague in my mind. I think it's really a matter of personal preferences. As much as some romanticise vinyl records, it's not for everyone. I LOVE printed books and never took on for eBooks, as convenient as they are, but many of my friends will never go back to read the printed books. And so many of the examples in this book are, in my opinion, romanticized and don't really represent a revolution of sorts. Education, on the other hand - well this one is important! And if studies do show that analog learning is more effective than digital one, that IS important to know...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bram

    First half is basically case studies of analog startups — interesting enough, but the second half is really where it picks with "The Revenge of Analog Ideas." There, Sax starts to take a look more at the superiority of working analog by analyzing some key areas. It's tough, reviewing, where you want the subject to me something other than it is. I wanted more biology and neuroscience, with all the recent discoveries about how humans absorb, process, and retain information better when it's analog. First half is basically case studies of analog startups — interesting enough, but the second half is really where it picks with "The Revenge of Analog Ideas." There, Sax starts to take a look more at the superiority of working analog by analyzing some key areas. It's tough, reviewing, where you want the subject to me something other than it is. I wanted more biology and neuroscience, with all the recent discoveries about how humans absorb, process, and retain information better when it's analog. But the book does an admirable job of covering what it does, with an easy, comfortable style with plenty of quotes and anecdotes.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael Hyatt

    My personal involvement in the digital revolution made me extremely interested when I encountered journalist David Sax’s book, The Revenge of Analog. He follows the trend away from digital in several different areas including publishing, retail, the work environment, and education. Sax makes explicit something many of us feel implicitly. Real, tangible things matter. And that insight has tremendous implications for business today—not only in how we purchase and consume, but also in how we invest My personal involvement in the digital revolution made me extremely interested when I encountered journalist David Sax’s book, The Revenge of Analog. He follows the trend away from digital in several different areas including publishing, retail, the work environment, and education. Sax makes explicit something many of us feel implicitly. Real, tangible things matter. And that insight has tremendous implications for business today—not only in how we purchase and consume, but also in how we invest and grow.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michael Neno

    An enjoyable and timely (though somewhat snobby) look at the resurgence of analog in many endeavors, industries and practices. It confirms, through many means, including extensive institutional studies, that physical means of communication and face to face communication have incalculable advantages over the use of digital media. Topics covered include vinyl LPs, paper books, notebooks, education, film, board games, working environments, retail and more. One drawback of the book is the author's non An enjoyable and timely (though somewhat snobby) look at the resurgence of analog in many endeavors, industries and practices. It confirms, through many means, including extensive institutional studies, that physical means of communication and face to face communication have incalculable advantages over the use of digital media. Topics covered include vinyl LPs, paper books, notebooks, education, film, board games, working environments, retail and more. One drawback of the book is the author's nonplussed recounting of younger (i.e. hipster's) ageist judgments on older analog customers. Snarky, patronizing characterizations of older analog users are repeatedly quoted throughout the book. One retailer, Andrew Zuckerman, describes older customers as "geezers, crummy old men...with a balding crown...endless soliloquies of cultural superiority emerging from their lips." Andrew, who do you think was keeping the vinyl industry alive in the '90s, while teenagers were buying Nickelback, Korn and Chumbawamba CDs? Since David Sax gives his opinions on any number of subjects in the book, it's positively odd that he doesn't indicate whether he believes in these characterizations or not. Another board games retailer describes the average action figure purchaser of the '90s as a "geeky male living in his mother's basement." Really? The retailer tracked down the purchases to their delivery points and personally confirmed that stereotype? There's many more examples of prejudicial contempt in this otherwise exemplary book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Rizzo

    I love this book, this hardcover paper and ink printed book. This is a look into many of the industries that have been disrupted by the digital revolution. Much to my surprise, it lays out some surprising realities showing a revival of analog technologies that many would think extinct or soon to be. The author instead shows the advantages that analog has in certain areas, and how they contributed to the persistence and revival of such things as vinyl records, moleskine notebooks, film photograph I love this book, this hardcover paper and ink printed book. This is a look into many of the industries that have been disrupted by the digital revolution. Much to my surprise, it lays out some surprising realities showing a revival of analog technologies that many would think extinct or soon to be. The author instead shows the advantages that analog has in certain areas, and how they contributed to the persistence and revival of such things as vinyl records, moleskine notebooks, film photography, retail stores, magazines and newspapers, board games, etc. We live in an analog world, and despite the saturation of screens, devices, and all things digital, it does have it's limitations. After reading this book, it will give you a better appreciation for the real world, and perhaps make you a little more likely to sit down with pen and paper, or pickup a map, or a newspaper.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    There was something delicious about reading this on an ereader! I found this book fascinating (despite my love of ereaders). The first part of the book was about analog things (notebooks, records, etc) and I thought that was really interesting but the second half was about analog "ideas" and that was where the magic happened - I think the chapter on education should be mandatory reading for all educators (and parents). The book isn't a Luddite screaming about how digital is bad - but is calling f There was something delicious about reading this on an ereader! I found this book fascinating (despite my love of ereaders). The first part of the book was about analog things (notebooks, records, etc) and I thought that was really interesting but the second half was about analog "ideas" and that was where the magic happened - I think the chapter on education should be mandatory reading for all educators (and parents). The book isn't a Luddite screaming about how digital is bad - but is calling for balance and using real world examples of companies that have had success by integrating analog "ideas" and things back into their digital environment.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Libby Shepherd

    These are a few of my favorite things: vinyl records, mole skin journals, old books, post it notes, board games and a piece of paper I can doodle on. Quotes I loved and had to jot down... "initial ideas blossom on paper first" and "we don't have a skill gap in America-we have a value gap" These are a few of my favorite things: vinyl records, mole skin journals, old books, post it notes, board games and a piece of paper I can doodle on. Quotes I loved and had to jot down... "initial ideas blossom on paper first" and "we don't have a skill gap in America-we have a value gap"

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stefan

    Interesting premise but the execution just didn't work for me. I did enjoy the section on the history of the Moleskin journal as I am an avid user of the product. Interesting premise but the execution just didn't work for me. I did enjoy the section on the history of the Moleskin journal as I am an avid user of the product.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ana-Maria Petre

    This book was a whirlwind of ideas. My impressions can be resumed as follows: I'm just gonna read the chapter on Moleskine. Not really interested in the others. *reads chapter on Moleskine* Woah that was cool. Okay one more. Let's try Print, ties up nicely with the other one. *reads chapter on print* I HAD NO IDEA MAGAZINES COULD BE SO COOL *proceeds through the following 3 chapters at maximum speed* Retail: I should open a shop Work: Economy, baby! (I hate economy) Okay maybe I should start from the be This book was a whirlwind of ideas. My impressions can be resumed as follows: I'm just gonna read the chapter on Moleskine. Not really interested in the others. *reads chapter on Moleskine* Woah that was cool. Okay one more. Let's try Print, ties up nicely with the other one. *reads chapter on print* I HAD NO IDEA MAGAZINES COULD BE SO COOL *proceeds through the following 3 chapters at maximum speed* Retail: I should open a shop Work: Economy, baby! (I hate economy) Okay maybe I should start from the beginning. *goes back to the beginning of book and reads proper* Vinyl: I'm just now realizing how much really need a turntable Film: big wave of nostalgia for old Italian films hits like a tsunami Board Games: you know I think I have these really cool game ideas... School: so THAT'S the problem with education - big ed tech companies gonna hate it! Digital: big wave of pity for those tech employees Summer: well this last one lagged a bit. I must admit But overall, I loved this read. It's not one of those big ideas books like the Pinker or the Hofstadter ones, but this guy is nosy and clever and I love it. The equivalent of a page turner in non-fiction. 5/5 recommend.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    I vascillated between identifying with the affinity for journaling on paper and a love of board game nights to befuddlement. The sociological aspects of digital workers longing for face to face interaction, physical interaction with our environment, and ...gasp...the outdoors, are not newly identified. I was a little thrown by the authors "research" being described more like a vagabond's journeys around Europe and North America describing the anthropological specimens he finds in various travel I vascillated between identifying with the affinity for journaling on paper and a love of board game nights to befuddlement. The sociological aspects of digital workers longing for face to face interaction, physical interaction with our environment, and ...gasp...the outdoors, are not newly identified. I was a little thrown by the authors "research" being described more like a vagabond's journeys around Europe and North America describing the anthropological specimens he finds in various travel destinations. While I read print books, have purchased a retro Polaroid camera for a tween birthday present, and love the conversation around the jigsaw puzzle table, I'm not sure those things are a statement of revenge or disavowal of the digital world. The business cases presented here are interesting. When we transition to digital life, we have inevitably thrown out some old Analog devices and habits. What Sax has perhaps discovered is that some folks did not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The meaningful pastimes, and their corresponding physical representations, will persist.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ezra

    Each chapter covered a medium. So, the book was well organized. The writing was okay. As a technologist who takes a notebook to meetings and uses up willpower not to look at my phone in boring meetings, I agree with the premise of the book. I just found myself annoyed in every chapter about something. The worst was the last chapter. I think Sax is an extravert, so his idea is the problem is digital keeps us from socializing. People like him are the reason open floor plans are the rage and driving Each chapter covered a medium. So, the book was well organized. The writing was okay. As a technologist who takes a notebook to meetings and uses up willpower not to look at my phone in boring meetings, I agree with the premise of the book. I just found myself annoyed in every chapter about something. The worst was the last chapter. I think Sax is an extravert, so his idea is the problem is digital keeps us from socializing. People like him are the reason open floor plans are the rage and driving out engineers who tend to be introverts and can stand only so much social. Yes we need serendipitous face-to-face interactions, but they need to be limited.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marilee

    This book showcases the ways in which analog is making a comeback. It will never be enough to overtake digital, but I'm glad that some things are coming back enough that they don't disappear completely. Each chapter is about a different industry, like vinyl records, that is once again growing in popularity. This book showcases the ways in which analog is making a comeback. It will never be enough to overtake digital, but I'm glad that some things are coming back enough that they don't disappear completely. Each chapter is about a different industry, like vinyl records, that is once again growing in popularity.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Zach Koenig

    There is not doubt that technology keeps moving forward in leaps and bounds. A new iPhone comes out every year now, and all kinds of gadgets proliferate the market. However, there are still a number of people who prefer a more old-fashioned or hands-on experience. That market (dismissed in many circles as "behind the times" or "stubborn non-adapters") is what "Revenge of Analog" speaks to. The basic premised espoused here by author David Sax two-fold: 1. Though modern technology is great, it almos There is not doubt that technology keeps moving forward in leaps and bounds. A new iPhone comes out every year now, and all kinds of gadgets proliferate the market. However, there are still a number of people who prefer a more old-fashioned or hands-on experience. That market (dismissed in many circles as "behind the times" or "stubborn non-adapters") is what "Revenge of Analog" speaks to. The basic premised espoused here by author David Sax two-fold: 1. Though modern technology is great, it almost intrinsically removes us from the "human experience" of many things, as anything done via a screen is (at best) a reproduction of some physical experience. For example, do the clicks, pops, and white noise of a turnable ruin the experience of listening to music...or enhance it? Does carrying around a Moleskin notebook put you at a disadvantage...or allow you more flexibility to get your thoughts into reality? Do schools really benefit from having technology in each and every classroom? These topics (and many more) are the types of conversations Sax has in this book. 2. Whether or not digital is "always better than analog", Sax also reveals there is no doubt that a niche market (which actually appears to be growing) exists for analog products. Record sales reached a pittance a decade ago...but now are trending upward. The same can be said for ebooks; they once were thought to have the ability to take over the market completely, yet are lagging badly behind print books. Basically, what Sax is saying here is that the "digital revolution" is not (and will likely not ever be) 100% all-encompassing. As someone born in 1985, these are issues that fascinate me, as I feel like I have lived through a unique configuration of technology over the course of my lifetime. As a child, I learned VCRs, Windows 3.1 on the one family computer, and the only phone in my household was a rotary dial hanging on the wall. Today? I'm typing this review on a MacBook, watching streaming television, with an iPhone 7+ in my pocket. I've seen a lot of technology come and go just in my lifetime, and there are many feelings (some quite nostalgic) associated with those phases. As such, it was very interesting to read that some of the technologies long thought "dead and gone" are indeed alive (if not necessarily "well") among certain circles. "Revenge of Analog" is first and foremost an "idea book", and as that it is a very interesting read. Sometimes it gets bogged down in sales figures and numbers, but when it focuses on the concept of "digital vs. analog" Sax's text really shines and will provoke quite a bit of thought for those who like that in a reading experience.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Digital has not yet conquered all. In brick-and-mortar stores, in paper notepads, in vinyl records, in board games, in print books, in schools—real things you can touch, smell, hand to a friend, and walk into are making a comeback. Most of these hit their low points during the Great Recession of 2008 but have seen steady increases ever since. Analog is even stubbornly holding on in high tech firms with executives who carry Moleskines for notetaking and who ban digital devices from their meetings, Digital has not yet conquered all. In brick-and-mortar stores, in paper notepads, in vinyl records, in board games, in print books, in schools—real things you can touch, smell, hand to a friend, and walk into are making a comeback. Most of these hit their low points during the Great Recession of 2008 but have seen steady increases ever since. Analog is even stubbornly holding on in high tech firms with executives who carry Moleskines for notetaking and who ban digital devices from their meetings, engineers who insist on white boards, and gathering spaces which offer crafts, table games, and bike repair shops. David Sax takes a journalistic approach in this book, with each chapter dominated by his reporting of unlikely success stories from Europe and North America. Analysis is thin, however. Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows and Andy Crouch’s The Tech-Wise Family offer much more insight. With Sax we basically get the point after the first couple chapters. While Sax is insistent that analog will not go away, he stops short of saying that all things digital are doomed. Eventually, he hints, people will figure out which solution works best for which situations. And analog may well end up as the minor partner. In the meantime, he celebrates the real and tangible rising back to life.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Peter Scholtens

    Interesting, thought provoking, but in the end, disappointing because it was poorly argued. The best chapter was the one on board games. The worst was the one chapter advertisement for Moleskines. Only marginally better was the chapter about vinyl records. Several themes emerged. First, the emergence of analog is often a millenial impulse to be different than their parents. Second, the so-called analog revolution is supported by digital through web sites, Kickstarter campaigns, and online forums Interesting, thought provoking, but in the end, disappointing because it was poorly argued. The best chapter was the one on board games. The worst was the one chapter advertisement for Moleskines. Only marginally better was the chapter about vinyl records. Several themes emerged. First, the emergence of analog is often a millenial impulse to be different than their parents. Second, the so-called analog revolution is supported by digital through web sites, Kickstarter campaigns, and online forums. Third, there is little evidence that the revenge of analog is any more than a series of passing fads. Finally, as with canning, quilting, and woodworking, most of the analog trends will not be more than hobbies for those who think it's cool, fun, or stress relief.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I expected to love this book, but really hated it after the first few chapters. I am an analog person (despite typing this review on a smartphone), but I felt like Sax was taking a fairly obvious observation that physical objects are more engaging than digital and presenting it as a shocking reveal. His use of hipster shibboleths like Moleskine, Polaroid cameras, and meditation classes on tech campuses narrows his "revenge" to something fussy and elitist. The continued and increasing presence of I expected to love this book, but really hated it after the first few chapters. I am an analog person (despite typing this review on a smartphone), but I felt like Sax was taking a fairly obvious observation that physical objects are more engaging than digital and presenting it as a shocking reveal. His use of hipster shibboleths like Moleskine, Polaroid cameras, and meditation classes on tech campuses narrows his "revenge" to something fussy and elitist. The continued and increasing presence of analog objects is more of a shunning or failure of digital to take hold.

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