Being Analog in a Digital World

It’s been said that anything that can be made digital will be or has been made digital.  For the most part, we agree and support that effort.  Reducing as many mundane tasks to a process of switching between one’s and zero’s is changing almost every aspect of life as we know it.  A funny thing happened on the way to our digital utopia though–we somehow assumed that “analog”, digital’s predecessor, was no longer relevant or needed.  We kicked analog to the curb.  LP records are the poster children of analog.  Almost overnight, those vinyl discs became “obsolete”.   The dirty little secret that any audiophile will gladly share with you, is the fact that LP (analog) records render greater fidelity than digital recordings of the same performance!  Perhaps a cautionary tale that should extend to our regard for other recent relics of the analog age.

The telephone (analog) is alive and well…sort of.  It’s still in the game until you get connected to a digital menu of  “choices” as opposed to a human being.  Something we now call a “phone tree”.  The branches on these trees seem endless–until you find a way to speak to a person or at least what you assume to be a person.  A “digitized” voice?  They work a lot cheaper and don’t take coffee breaks.  So it’s somewhat odd that the digital world tries to offer us facsimiles from the analog world.  See?  It’s almost like being there!  Other examples are obvious, but you get the point…

Analog tends to align with authenticity, and digital seems to match up better with efficiency.  Both authenticity and efficiency are important to us.  When you order off the menu, you expect to eat the entree as described and not to have to wait two hours to be served.  So both criteria go into defining your dining experience.  Which one is more important?  Who cares?  They both are.  What scares most people, and rightly so, is when they encounter situations that are driven completely by efficiency with no regard for any authenticity at the same time.  Railing against the machine.  Nothing new but certainly something far too commonplace now.

We should all take the pledge to be both digital and analog in our daily lives.  Never mistake one for the other, and never ignore one or the other.  A truly full life is defined by a commitment to both!

The Certainty of Uncertainty

It’s often said that no one likes uncertainty.  Markets don’t like uncertainty, nor do leaders or their followers for that matter.  That we all crave to walk the defined and secure path to the next place.  Those that offer us certainty are often hailed as “visionaries” or “gurus”.  Truth be told, no one and nothing can guarantee certainty.  As the title openly suggests, the only certainty is uncertainty.  Just one of those paradoxes that reminds us of our relative insignificance in the universe.  Lest we forget, there were plenty of people in the WTC that had already made plans for the upcoming weekend, just knowing that it was right round the corner.

Obviously, it’s incredibly easy (and maybe convenient) to be overwhelmed in the face of uncertainty.  To just give up, give in, and wait to see what happens.  That’s what the math says, right?  Fortunately, throughout history, courageous souls have said no, that’s the wrong answer.  The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote about the “leap of faith” over the “abyss of despair”.  Time and again, courageous people have looked at uncertainty head on and have chosen taking action instead of taking cover.  The first years of the 21st century have been challenging, to say the least, for most inhabitants of this planet, and yes many of our brethren have either given up or given in.  “Tomorrow” was once a hopeful place, that now scares many of us.

So what’s missing here?  What do we need to get our collective swagger back?  The circumstances that we find ourselves in aren’t likely to change any time soon.  Same jungle different day.  I think that the answer lies in asking a very simple yet profound question:  where are we going?  A question that is simply impossible to answer without the aid of a compass.  Do we have a personal compass?  Do we have a collective one?  If we do, do we bother or know how to even use it?  Or have we grown accustomed to walking around in circles, cursing our confusion and lack of orientation?

If you have ever gone hiking in unfamiliar territory, or sailed a boat at night, you have a clear idea about how invaluable a compass really is.  The same applies to our individual and collective lives.  Ever notice that now that GPS is commonplace, no one seems to get lost driving anymore?  You drive in a strange place with confidence because you know where you’re going–while uncertainty hasn’t been eliminated, it has been minimized!  We need that same sense of security and direction in the rest of our lives.

Do you have a compass?  Do you use it frequently?  If not, find one, and never let it out of your mind’s sight!