I think its fair to assume that we live in a digital age. Almost everything analog has a digital derivative if it hasn’t already been completely replaced and forgotten by all together. Something that continues to bug me about all of this preconceived notion that digitalization by default is good no matter the circumstances. Yea, this really bugs me a lot. I can point to a myriad of instances where a tactile and or analog solution could have been a much more efficient process for getting a specific task done. Of course I don’t expect that preconceived notion to be a universal unchanging law, but I cant help but challenge its fundamental argument all together.
I’m aware that this conversation isn’t new. I’d also assume that most people in the digital age more than pondered this idea deeply. But I think I’ve found a good replacement philosophy for the existing one:
We will probably always be physical creatures, and for as long as that continues, we should be trying to find solutions that let us interact better with our physical reality. Digital innovation should not be drug to cure all ergonomic, information, speed, and power u. It should be a tool, among many others, to help us better interact with the physical reality that we’ve always had and that is evolving significantly slower, if at all, than we are.
I’m a Disciple of Christ, and I’m always met with the question of why I would want to live by a set of strict rules written thousands of years ago in a day that is so incredibly different than then with so much more to do and explore. Well, firstly that’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to follow Christ. But I understand that question, but what that question really fails understand is that we all live by a set of strict rules. There’s national rules, state rules, house rules, school rules, work rules, and personal rules and yet here in the states we feel for the most part that we have a lot of freedom over our lives. The reality is that rules are a necessary precondition to freedom in every sense of the word freedom. Slavery is when you are controlled by something that you cannot opt out of and that is punishing and without any form of reward. Many times, it’s the rules in a system that allow for there to be a sense of direction, safety, and incentive with real rewards. And of course if you take these rules too far, they will dip and dive into control and manipulation. But if you balance just and fair rules with freedom to choose within those guardrails, then you allow those who choose to live by those rules to make more guided decisions towards a desired future.
What does this have to do with the digital age? We have a much too wide open perspective of what the role of digital innovation should be in our age. So we sort of allow for any innovation to take place and to be pushed and to essentially end up spoiling unique and authentic human experiences that have been with us for ages. The lack of narrower guardrails means that we venture off into not only useless and cumbersome but also dangerous paths. I think that my philosophy for how we should approach digital innovation gives us enough focus to stay extremely innovative but to also explore even more clever ways to integrate working analog activities with digital ones.
I think hand written writing is the perfect example of this. To innovate simply to innovate is to cross the road simply because the crossing light turns on. But without direction, you minus well have never left the house. For the past decade tech manufactures large and small have tried their best to completely get rid of the keyboard and the paper and pencil and they’ve failed miserably. Touch screen is too slow to type on and styluses don’t have the tactile feel that makes an artist feel their visual expression. Not to say there arn’t interesting innovations in these areas, but for the most part the stubborn of our physical existence has forced the Apples and Microsoft’s of the world to innovate within a set of rules…. The same rules that I illustrated above. Some tactile practices are simply best done physically because we are physical species and live in a physical reality.