The Glory of the Analog Days

I’ve always considered myself lucky because I grew up using analog technology before migrating to digital. I’ve watched the transition happen. Even though I am sometimes a bit resistant, or slow, to adapt to new digital technologies, I appreciate that I know and understand both styles. As an added bonus, I also realize the meaning and history of many well-known icons, relics from the analog world, that may not have much meaning to somebody younger.

Here are some examples, though recognizable to us as digital icons for actions or objects, they all come from the paper world.

The phone is a receiver from the old-fashioned style with the curly cord connecting it to the base, or early cordless models.

The diskette for “save” is from the era of floppy disks.

Paste is an icon of a clipboard, something most people rarely use.

A piece of paper symbolizes document, or file.

A paperclip indicates an attachment, presumably to represent how it clips two things together. However, in the digital world, this doesn’t work the same way.

Aside from understanding icons used throughout the digital world, there are other advantages to the analog world. Though I took it for granted growing up, when I created something, I knew it was unique. It was one-of-a-kind. This was both a benefit and a detriment. One the plus side, I felt confident I had total control over that one physical instance of my creation. This is important for something confidential or private. On the flip side, only having one instance isn’t good protection against disaster. What if there was a fire, flood, etc.? Or I lost it?

I was reminded of these things while watching Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning the other week. The movie starts, predictably enough, with the protagonist receiving a recorded message that self-destructs. However, the message was on an old-fashioned mini tape recorder, including a few sheets of paper. Naturally the whole thing self-destructed within seconds of being read.

But in the digital world, could one ever feel confident that self-destruction included every instance? Could one ever feel confident that only one instance existed? The great benefit of digital technology is that it’s so easy to replicate. However, this is also a detriment with confidential or private information. Or if you feel inclined to send a self-destructing message to someone. It better be programmed to self-destruct in multiple places.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *