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digitanalogy

why do humans love digital? and by digital we don’t only mean computers or the internet, but everything that is measurable, everything that can ultimately be reduced to a state of 0 or 1.

humans love digital because it simplifies reality. it divides and conquers complex inputs we have to deal with every day. it helps us optimize our lives, it helps our brains save energy needed for costly doubts and dilemmas. divide et impera. what you can measure, you can manage. measuring and managing our world is the brain’s ultimate dream.

today we can measure seemingly everything in our personal and business lives—from sleep quality, exercising, gaming, career evolution, and family planning to expected revenues and profits. tracking our performance breaks progress into chunks, which makes the future seem more manageable, and feeds us reassuring impulses—the ultimate happiness pill for our brains. if only everything could be digital, wouldn’t this, finally, be a wonderful world? wouldn’t we have accomplished the meaning of life?

there’s a small catch: a digital existence assumes that everything can be reduced to the state of either 0 or 1. however, for human beings, it’s possible for something to be 0 and 1 at the same time. while most of life may be broken down into binaries, our brains seem to work in both analog and digital ways[1]. digitization alone will not lead us to discover the meaning of life, it will lead us to the certainty of missing it.

so while you keep trying to measure every aspect of your life, do not forget to embrace the contradictory, the absurd. learn to live with and learn from it, even appreciate it for what it is—and while you may not think you’re getting closer to the meaning of life, if you’re lucky, you may feel it.

oh, and one more thing—what does this mean for brand management?

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[1] cf. https://edge.org/conversation/freeman_dyson-is-life-analog-or-digital

 

Proving that big ideas come in small letters, the authors of “digitanalogy” draw on the (largely lowercase) writings of German designer and theoretician, Otl Aicher, among other influential makers/thinkers.

Contributors

Director, Brand Valuation