Digital is not the opposite of analog. It’s the complement.

Contrary to Apple’s new ad, analog devices aren’t in desperate need of replacement by digital technology like the iPad. The analog and digital worlds complement each other: The best digital technology makes the analog world _better_.


Digital is not the opposite of analog. It’s the complement.

Let’s talk about Apple’s latest ad. If you don’t know what I’m talking about…well, just watch it. I think I can predict your reaction.

In the wake of widespread criticism, Apple has apologized for the ad. The apology is, predictably, empty. They admit the ad “missed the mark”. But when someone tells you who they are, maybe believe them.

I think The Verge’s take is very good. I am in agreement—as someone with roots in Silicon Valley!—that the pressures of constant revenue growth have created a mindset that the new must always aim to replace the old. Otherwise you wouldn’t buy the new, would you? And this ad is the fullest embodiment of this mindset—the latest digital technology fully replaces all your old, clunky, imprecise, worthless, dirty analog shit.

Imagine being such a rube that you believe that the only good technology is new technology.

But here’s where my take diverges. Obviously, as a fan of analog photography, I love my clunky, dirty analog shit very much. But I also love my new shiny digital shit too. And while my digital tools are great—I’m typing this on a Mac computer, after all—they are at their best when they complement the analog world.

Which is entirely the impetus behind Crown + Flint, my mobile app for iPhone and Android. It uses the best features of my digital technology to make my analog technology even better. It lets my iPhone multiply the value of my analog cameras, instead of replacing them. Likewise with my digital scanning workflow. Tools like my Fujifilm digital camera and the FilmLab app on my desktop help me get the most out of my analog negatives, and to share them with my friends and readers.

What I’m trying to say is—the attitude that the latest technology should replace even slightly older technology is definitely a bad take. But I think the best take is this:
New technology is at its very best when it extends the life and multiplies the value of older technology.

I won’t stop using Apple products. But I do wish Apple, and more broadly Silicon Valley, could take the longer view. But no VC will ever let them, and frankly that makes me cry.

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