stop saying “analog” when you mean “old”!

I hereby request that all marketers immediately cease using the word “analog” as a euphemism for “old” and “out of touch”. Engineers and poets reclaim the word.

Inbound Marketing authors Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah recently committed this offense while making their distinction between “digital citizens” and “digital tourists”:

Digital Citizens—Born Web or very familiar with the Web. Speak Web fluently.

Digital Tourists—Born analog and/or not deeply familiar with the Web. Speak Web with an accent [emphasis mine].

They assert that marketing departments must only hire the former if they wish to succeed. These statements echo the arrogant 1990’s dismissal of the “analog” modern in favor of a “digital” postmodern, a metaphor we exhausted 15 years ago.

A generation prior, “digital” meant banal and synthetic

Rush’s 1982 platinum album Signals juxtaposed its two best tracks: Analog Kid portrayed a teenager excited about the world and experiencing the thrill of a crush. Digital Man featured a technocratic adult processing a vast amount of information while failing to derive its meaning.

Now consider middle C in both analog and digital representations:

The analog signal mimics a continuous vibrating string. Pick any two points in the signal and you can imagine an infinite number of points between them, which allow the signal to embed the entire harmonic series. The digital signal, by contrast, discretizes samples into a pointillistic approximation of the whole. We get no information between the samples and therefore diminished harmonic content. Curves cease to exist. Warmth and nuance get lost in the missing harmonics. Digital trades information for mathematical convenience—no wonder Digital Man could not connect the dots.

Therefore I’ll keep my analog turned up to eleven.

Analog and digital both permeate Life Tech’s marketing images

Ambion offers beautiful analog imagery with its latest ad campaign:

Here fluid curves full of possibility and danger tempt buyers. Only analog, and by implication only Ambion, offers purity.

Compare with this digital sentence:

Nothing lies between the characters. As chip density increases we’ll have to cramp the icons:

These images send the message that while RNA remains wild and largely unexplored, Ion Torrent provides tame clinical rationality. Digital. Reliable. We need tame clinical rationality to prosper in translational medicine.

But Ambion’s analog curves arouse us far more.

Cool emits from the analog/digital boundary

Coltrane’s counterpoint drives acoustic resonance. DJs spin digital superpositions to move the analog dance floor. Particle and wave merge. Analog thrives in beautiful tension with digital; those who fail to grok this will fail to grok our technical civilization.

In social media, Ion Torrent tracks this boundary between curve and quantile:

So please stop dismissing the analog

If you still need language to describe those of us turned on and tuned in to network culture, please find words more meaningful than “digital citizen”. I recommend “new girls’ network”.

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