Episode 515 – David Sax

Virtual Memories Show 515:
David Sax

“In the future, digital technology is going to continue evolving in new, unforeseen, incredible, maybe scary maybe wonderful ways, some of which we’re seeing now. But also, no matter how much that happens, we’re still human beings. We’re still flesh and blood creatures on this earth, and we have analog needs.”

Writer, journalist and speaker David Sax joins the show to celebrate his new book, THE FUTURE IS ANALOG: How to Create a More Human World (Public Affairs Books). We get into how we all got dragged at once into the digital future in spring 2020 and what it taught us, how surprised he was at response to his 2016 book, The Revenge of Analog, and why this book is its perfect companion, and why analog, real world experience has grown more important even as digital activity reaches its peak. We also talk about how he structured the book’s main topics and days of the week — Work, School, Commerce, The City, Culture, Conversation, and Soul, corresponding with Monday to Sunday —, the ways in which we’re growing disenchanted with Silicon Valley’s vision of the future, why he will cite 1993 movie Demolition Man at the drop of a hat, and why a periodic digital sabbath is a good thing. Plus, we discuss the digital era’s misunderstanding of what productivity is, why capital’s extractive model can only lead to burnout & ruin, whether it was a good or bad thing that the pandemic curtailed his improv lessons, the Philip Roth book that he had to beg his book club’s forgiveness for selecting, his belated dive into John Le Carré, and a lot more. Give it a listen! And go read The Future Is Analog!

“I’m not saying we’re ditching technology, but we really owe it to ourselves to adopt a more critical thinking around the future and around technology, so that we’re able to approach technology and judge it on its merits. We have to ask whether it actually improves our analog selves, our lives as humans, our interactions and spaces that really matter to us.”

“There’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what productivity is in the digital economy. We keep thinking that we just needed something to be able to do the work faster. But that doesn’t actually make you work more productively; it just makes you work more.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

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About our Guest

David Sax is a writer, reporter, and speaker who specializes in business and culture. His book The Revenge of Analog was a #1 Washington Post bestseller, was selected as one of Michiko Kakutani’s Top Ten books of 2016 for the New York Times, and has been translated into six languages. He is also the author of four other books: Save the Deli, which won a James Beard award, The Soul of an Entrepreneur, The Tastemakers, and his latest book, The Future Is Analog: How to Create a More Human World. He lives in Toronto.

Follow David on Twitter.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Zoom PodTrak P4. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of David by Christopher Farber. It’s on my instagram.

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