Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Digital vs. Non-digital: The unnecessary debate

Digital vs. analog watches.  Digital vs. film photography.  Digital vs. oil/charcoal/watercolor/pencil-on-canvas/paper art.  Digital vs. non-digital music.

So? What's the score? What are the pros of digital, and what are the pros of analog? Who's winning?

A friend who is very passionate about film photography recently updated his Facebook status:
"Another case where digital has not and will not ever supersede analog: time pieces. The same arguments are used to extol digital cameras over film cameras: convenience, accuracy, and cost."
I've thought about this for a long time now.  But after reading this from my friend, I thought I should write a piece about it already, and of course, this has nothing to do with any of my friendships. :D  Seriously.  Anyway...

I personally think that if digital stuff were invented first, people would generally "hate" on any "new" analog inventions as much as people now "hate" on digital. People usually always want to stick to the old and familiar, and resist the new. People hated jazz when there was classical music. People hated rock music when there was jazz. People hated techno music when there was rock. People hated the television when there was radio. People hated the internet and online digital media distribution when there was television and cable and CDs and blurays and paperbacks. People hated computers because they thought they were only for nerds. People hated 90's or later music because they loved 80's music so much.

People usually always want to stick to the old and familiar, and resist the new.

But I also personally think that anyway, the two (digital and film, for example in the case of photography) are two different art forms that can actually co-exist.  I'm no photography expert.  I've only ever owned point-and-shoots - film and digital.  But I think people by nature always think it's a zero sum game.  It is not.  What people do not know is that what we have now in the modern age is not the disremembrance of analog, or all things non-digital. What we have now is choice.

Digital and non-digital (for example, in the case of photography) are two different art forms that can actually co-exist.

Balladeers and classical pianists can't ever say rappers or punk rockers or techno DJs aren't musicians, nor can they compete in any way, except maybe by the amount of money they make if ever they so agree to compete in that sense.  I personally hate it when people hear songs by Nirvana - my favorite rock band of all time - and call it noise.  Some people who like glam rock where the lead guitarists have very fancy solos call punk rock too simplistic.  You know what.  If something isn't music to you, it doesn't mean it's not music.

You can also choose to like classic rock, while I will still like hip-hop. And then you can choose to be my friend or not depending only on our preferences for music, and so on. What we all have is choice.  Personally, I like digital a lot because there are things I can't afford.  I can't afford to buy so many rolls of film and have them developed every time.  I don't have time to set up a darkroom and work in one to process my photos.  I can't afford to buy musical instruments, heck not even a turntable.  I can't afford to buy CDs when I just want one song.  I can't probably visit every capital of every state and nation in this earth.  I would prefer to save on gasoline and paper, and buy an ebook online.  In each of these cases, I have a digital choice.  And that is why I embrace digital.  Am I less of a human being for going digital?  Well, I'll leave others to judge you for judging me on that ground.  But hey, that's just me.  In the same way, though, why think less of people who stick to non-digital stuff?  That's just them.

It is not a zero sum game. What we have now in the modern age is not the disremembrance of the old. What we have now is choice.

In the same vein, I don't mind people "photoshopping" photos, which were taken digitally or otherwise.  What I do mind is that somethings can be overdone or simply done wrong.  One might have a film camera, for example, but without the proper skills developed over years of study, and practice, and trials and errors and what not, i.e. without that "photographer's eye," who cares if you're a film proponent and an antagonist to all things digital?  The same is true for digital-touting photographers.  Me?  I'm a digital point-and-shoot guy, I say no thanks to extensive photoshopping and to Instagram-like filters, but yeah I tend to use iPhoto's auto-enhance features and the iPhone's HDR capabilities.  I can go DSLR but you know, to me, there are more important things in this world than going DSLR.  Again, that's just me.  The question though is, with these tools that I choose to use, do I do the right things?

In the case of digital vs. analog time pieces, again I see it as a matter of personal preference and circumstance.  If say I'm going to a party with a futuristic theme, do I bring along my analog watch with me?  Well, that's just one situation.  If you ask me, I still prefer an analog watch on a daily basis. I would only use a digital watch for outdoor activities like going to the beach or jogging, or when I'm going through places where my analog watch could be screaming "steal me, steal me!"  If I wore my analog watch in such a place and then it gets stolen, the question is, did I do the right thing?

Whatever tool you use or art form you choose, are you doing the right thing?

I think that is the most important question of all.  There's no such thing as digital vs. non-digital.  It's an unnecessary debate.  Why are you hating on people for choosing tools and art forms that are different from yours?  Is that the right thing to do?  Is that the right way to think?  Why are you using the computer, logged on to the digital internet, and reading this blog post right now if you so disdain digital?  Or if you so hate film because "it's old technology," why are you even planning on printing your photos?  Don't hate.  It's an unnecessary debate.

[Note: This article was updated about an hour after it was first published.]

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