Boris Smus

interaction engineering

Revenge of Analog

“Digital’s overwhelming superiority initially renders analog alternatives worthless, but over time the perception of value shifts and when the honeymoon with a particular technology ends we are more readily able to judge its true merits and shortcomings.”

Very wordy, this is definitely a book to skim. The gist is that we’ve been overzealous about digitizing everything, and now analog is making a comeback in some areas. The book is a straightforward walkthrough of a few domains where this has been happening. The author does a good job of not sounding too crotchety, which is very easy to do in books like these. But this book has basically no insights. It’s more a summary of ideas that are all in the air.

Notes: The author presents a semi interesting study on Moleskine, colored by the character who helped cofound the company. There is indeed something that feels inherently good about taking paper notes. But not much insight beyond this.

Board games: Turns out people are social! And the trend in video gaming is towards solo or online multiplayer, where you are fundamentally alone in a room. In contrast, with board games you're together with a bunch of friends and there's a lot more happening than just the game!

Retail stores are still important. No surprises again, that Apple and other maintain store presence and support. And bookstores are a good example of tactile scanning and easy previews. Conspicuously absent are libraries.

Work: As far as I can tell this is where the author complains about tech displacing blue collar jobs. Sadly, even vinyl pressers are going to be automated if the market grows. You'll need CNC experience not operators.

Education: Attempts to reform education have all been made with advents in new technology. And so far the traditional school classroom approach seems to be giving best results. This is a good reminder for me to ensure that my daughter ends up in a tech-free classroom. I found this quote to be oddly satisfying, and felt sorry for Thrun

“Thrun predicted that MOOCs would be so distributive that in 50 years only ten institutions in the world would provide higher education and his would be one of them. Apparently a lesson about Icarus’s journey to the sun wasn't included on the Udacity syllabus.”

I like the idea that camp Walden doesn't allow any tech for its campers.

Overall, this book could easily be compressed into a 10 minute article. I found no new ideas in this book, just an occasional head nod: confirmation.