Analogue vs Digital

January 9th, 2011

I bought myself a Kindle after Christmas and, even though it’s still novel (hah), I really like it and can see why the technology is clearly becoming more popular.

However, at the same time as loving it, it really scares me. I love going into libraries, bookstores, both second-hand and new and just browsing, I can’t remember the last time I actually bought a book though, I just go to be surrounded by tales and knowledge. This is threatened when, as a confessed lover of this, I still prefer my content digitally. I bought a copy of Oryx and Crake from the library last summer and got through about half of it last term. I obtained a copy for the Kindle and had read the second-half in a day. I’ve done the same with my copy of Hardy’s The Woodlanders and in an afternoon I’m 10% through. That’s the power it has.

It surprises me that the digital book revolution is only recently finding traction, given the lightness of text and the fact that the web revolves around text-based communication I would have thought books going digitally mainstream would have happened before music. This brings me to my next point…

Just like bookstores, I have the same relationship with music shops, HMV to independent record stores, just perusing. I have a sizeable CD collection yet it’s still dwarfed by my digital music collection, despite my preference to materiality. I love the CD and book, the textures, what’s printed, the art, the smell, but manageability seems to be king.

So how do we live in a world where everything we consume is in binary? By reductio ad absurdum supposing the extent of this is that we ditch our own ‘analogue’ selves and become purely digital, living among our and others work. How does that make you feel?

I guess the best I can hope for is if retailers start issuing both book and e-book, O’Reilly do with their reference book, allowing you to access the book online for x number of days but, especially with reference books, this isn’t ideal. It also happens with some albums, many artists are offering a digital version with a CD version, it just needs to be done consistently and wider-spread. I hope that industries will find a model uniting the benefits of the digital and the analogue, without having them fight for the same position; they’re too different.


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