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


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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12 Comments
  • Reply

    I agree Yamini. I just received my Australian Conservation Foundation Diary, which I’ve been using for about 10 years. I love the beautiful images of Australian bush and wildlife and would much rather put my appointments in that than in an electronic calendar. Likewise I love my notebooks for “to do” lists and reflections. I usually buy or am given pretty ones that I love to carry around and scribble in… Nice to know I’m not the only one! Suse

    • Yamini Naidu
      Reply

      Susan great point. I love stationery too and it’s been wonderful sharing people’s examples of where analogue provides a much appreciated tactile element from whiteboards, dairies, to paper notebooks. We are lucky that we can live with a foot in each world.
      Yamini

  • Venkataraman KK
    Reply

    A well written post. I am a professor in Electronics and I also teach to my students about the analog dominance in every thing. Almost everything in the world is analog in nature – even the digital music is converted to analog before you can hear !!!

    • Yamini Naidu
      Reply

      Dear Venkat
      Thank you for your insight around analog dominance and great example with digital music. Who would have thought that?
      Regards
      Yamini

  • Reply

    We are an office full of creative people so there is no way we can have a conversation without a whiteboard (the biggest we could get) or a pile of sketch pads and some pens on hand. We have to ‘see’ what we are explaining to each other. Making a picture clarifies our thinking and provides a bridge between our different understanding of a problem or knowledge of a situation.
    Writing down or drawing the progression of our thinking by hand is faster an more visible than using any of the myriad of electronic tools at our disposal. There is also a direct relationship between the writer / drawer and the result with the ‘handwriting’ of the author evident in the scribbles.
    Old tech? No, its more about using the right tool for the job and the right tool for the person.

    • Yamini Naidu
      Reply

      Deirdre spot on and some tools are timeless / classic.
      I absolutely love whiteboards too and couldn’t imagine working without one. In fact a friend has even painted one of the walls in her house with whiteboard paint, so she is never without a whiteboard at home or work. I would be nervous in an office with creatives if there were no whiteboards.
      Regards
      Yamini

  • Reply

    Hi Yamini – the ultimate ‘analog’ thing for me is sitting on the back deck looking out into the bush, listening to the wind in the trees & the birds chatting to each other. What a way to restore one’s energy and recharge the brain. You can’t replicate or replace that with technology!! 🙂

    • Yamini Naidu
      Reply

      Emily you paint a beautiful and true picture …nothing like nature and being in the moment with nature.
      Regards
      Yamini

  • Uma Nadanapatham
    Reply

    I have also resorted to pen and paper for my to-do list, after using several electornic forms. In the electronic days, I am not trusting any digital form for storing passswords (countless numbers of passowrds we have these days), and have resorted to pen and paper. Best Regards, Uma

  • Reply

    I just exclaimed to my co-workers, “omg I’m a genuis”. Probably over stating my capability to some extent, but hey you have to go there when you have a chance, right?
    I use pen and paper to create a story board for presentations too. Feeling pretty good today! Thanks

    • Yamini Naidu
      Reply

      Anna that is so good to hear and yes genius all right especially in the presentation space. I also read that after using an ipod at work Steve Jobs would go home and listen to vinyl records..
      Great to hear this made your day!
      Regards
      Yamini

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