Steve Jobs, a black texta and the art of the ‘analog’ approach

December 15, 2013

steve jobs

My godmother was in hospital recently having her right knee reconstructed.  On the day of the operation, the surgeon came in and carefully marked her right knee with a black texta before she was wheeled into the theatre. He wanted to make certain there was no mistake about which knee was due for the operation!  Despite all the advancements in technology and medicine, this simple step with the most basic of tools was crucial to the process of minimising error. And it worked beautifully — she’s fine now!

Our world is changing so fast. Just last week, for example, Australia televisions broadcasters turned off analog TV signals completely and we all switched to digital television only. Of course, we have to keep up to date, but it got me thinking: where else in life is the ‘analog’ version of technology  — like the texta on my godmother’s knee — actually a good thing.

I noticed recently, for example, when withdrawing money from my ATM the security warning that flashes up is ‘Please cover your pin when using this ATM’. There’s an image of a hand covering the keypad.  It’s a measure to prevent ATM skimming, where criminals secure minute cameras temporarily to ATMs to capture card details and PIN numbers. So, despite the millions of dollars spent on ATM security measures and leading-edge technology used in fraud detection and prevention, this simple ‘analog’ measure of using your hand to shield your pin, is the most effective way to prevent ATM skimming.  Who would have thought that?

Steve Jobs – a master at presenting his company’s new products to mass audiences — always planned his presentations using good old pen and paper. He would storyboard his presentation, with all the elements carefully thought about and collated long before he created any of the the slides he would eventually use.  Yet, I hardly know of anyone else who takes this simple step.

I’m a bit like that, in that I derive great satisfaction from hand writing my to-do list most days and then ticking off stuff as I go. I have tried many electronic versions, but nothing is more satisfying that good old paper and pen!

Before we jump to the new, remember that sometimes the old way is a good way.

Where do you still like to use analog methods?    Please comment, I would love to hear from you.

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