I gave my daughter-in-law a Disney-themed Christmas DVD set. She declined, saying she and our son didn’t own CD or DVD players and they streamed everything.

I had walked face down in the wall that is the great digital divide.

As I have said many times, there are currently two types of people: those who need access to certain information and those who need the actual physical object in their hands.

In other words: digital vs analog. Because, if the term analog used to refer to sound recordings, it now refers to everything physical: CDs, DVDs, tape recordings, books, even a GAF ViewMaster with slides (hey, John Rullo!).

I’m from the analog camp to be sure. I treasure my old photos, albums, recordings, CDs and tapes. One of my son’s Christmas gifts was a photo album from a trip he took to Coney Island with his family…with real photos inside the album! Holding it, I realized how much I missed this support and the feeling of holding a photo and drinking in the memory it preserved.

We seem to live in a world that has become more and more “either/or”.

You have to be for or against something, there is no middle ground. Opinions have become standard bearers, and very often your opinion on a number of issues can label you as “us” or “them”. I don’t tend to think that way on the analog/digital question.

We’ve all been persuaded to think that digital storage is the way to go. We save everything on external hard drives: music, photos, emails, all with the aim of storing them safely in a place that does not take up much space.

I told how the entire remastered 2009 Beatles catalog was available on a USB stick for those who lived in tiny apartments.

What Joan often reminds me of is the fact that external hard drives also have an expiration date, and if we don’t re-transfer the files from time to time, we risk losing them as well.

I think the answer may be using both mediums. Do I want to keep all my long-playing albums? Well, the cover is nice and the graphics are easier to read, but what I really want from them is the music, so no. Do I want to keep all of my Uncle Alfred’s family photos from 1966? Shit, yes, but I sent the originals to his daughter because they belong to her. I will keep the digital copies. I save all my columns and all my radio shows on a drive because keeping them all on my computer is just crazy.

But the physical sensation of holding a book in your hands cannot be replicated by any digital reading device. I’ve often said that the problem with a Nook or a Kindle is that no matter if you read “War and Peace” or “The Accumulated Knowledge of a Doorknob”, the volume and texture of your device remains exactly the same. Granted, it’s easier to read bigger novels on a Kindle or Nook, and you can enlarge the print size and the page is backlit, but that’s just not the case. feel the same. And that’s a big part of the experience.

It’s a bit like watching a movie at home on your TV and watching it in a theater. Some movies were made for the big screen and some benefit from being watched at home. Going to the movies is also more of a communal experience. Even so, I’ve had run-ins with moviegoers who lose their minds when I dig too hard into my popcorn. My son also informed me that he was at the cinema a few years ago and he could hear my laugh, even though I was several cinemas away from him.

Call me Tarzan!

The fact is that not everything that is modernized is exactly the same.

For years, jazz lovers have been told that their favorite record albums will soon appear on vastly improved CDs. It never happened for some things. “The Chris Isaak Show” is still missing on DVD. Kind of reminds me of the end of “Fahrenheit 450”.

And there’s the nagging fear that once you’ve signed up with a huge corporation that they or they will control what you see and hear from that point. It’s bad enough that you can only “borrow” music from online music services, that at some point they may ask you to “refresh” your purchase. What if they suddenly decide that a book, movie, or song is too “objectionable” to read, see, or hear? Remember those Tipper Gore-endorsed “Parental Guidance” stickers (not his finest moment)? Remember how long it took Facebook to remove racial slurs and misinformation? It works (or doesn’t work) the other way around as well. Some of my friends and I have been blocked after posting things we didn’t find offensive or questionable. But someone else certainly did.

I think the idea behind analog now is that you are in total control of things. When you subscribe to a local newspaper, for example, and have the local news delivered to your doorstep, you control your news feed, not an algorithm, not a huge industry trying to sell you goods or suggesting the next thing you might like. This sense of control becomes so much more important when you feel like the rest of your world isn’t following the rules, isn’t playing the hand that’s been dealt to them.

We still have a choice right now. And we should use it to make our world a better place to live in and ourselves wiser about how to do it.

Hold high those gorgeous gray heads!

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