Physical vs Digital media


Anders Printz

Analog media has been making a strong comeback over the past decade.

The process of recording language, music, stories and many other aspects of our culture is nothing new and has been going on for millennia. For the vast majority for this time, recording has been done in an analog format or, in other words, physically represented where the media itself is, how you access its contents and is not easily transferred to another format. It has only been very recently, around the late 20th century, where digital media became the dominant source of media consumption. In this format, whatever content you are trying to access is much easier to transfer since the media is stored in code. The most common example of this is internet streaming services such as Spotify, Netflix and a variety of social media platforms for photo and video sharing.

Within the last decade or so, we have seen a resurgence of physical, analog media among younger generations. This includes polaroid and film-based photos as well as vinyl records and cassettes for music. Take music for example. Vinyl LPs have skyrocketed back into popularity and have once again become one of the most popular mediums for music consumption. While reasons may vary for the resurgence of physical media, some suggest it has to do with the stronger connection between the consumer and the product. With digital music such as CDs and streaming, you can choose what song you want to play and when, and you can skip what you do not feel like listening to. With vinyl and cassettes, you are basically forced to listen to every song on an album with little options for skipping.

It is not just a change we are seeing in the types of formats that we consume media, but also where we choose to purchase the media. Dedicated brick and mortar stores are becoming increasingly popular for music and books and have an even larger reach thanks to the ability to set up online stores. I personally like utilizing physical media such as books and vinyl and I know I am not alone in emphasizing the importance of having both options open as a physical representation of our history and culture can provide a much bigger impact despite the efficiency of digital.