Stagger onward rejoicing

Tag: analog (page 1 of 1)


David Sax, from The Future Is Analog

“The ideas that come to our mind are around curiosity, creativity, exploration, which come to you when you’re out and moving around,” said Joseph White, the director of workplace futures and insight at the office furniture company Herman Miller. White is a professional fabric designer (he owns a loom), who moved from Brooklyn to Buffalo in the midst of the pandemic, but the longer he worked remotely, the more White noticed how much physical, sensory information his work was lacking. He missed wandering around the rambling Herman Miller campus in Michigan, moving his body, walking between buildings, touching, seeing, and even smelling the company’s different ideas as they took shape in wood, plastic, metal, and fabric. “I used to work from a dozen different spots throughout the day,” White said. “Now I look at the same piece of art all day. I miss the variety of experience. My mind connects to concepts like embodied cognition — our mind connects to the world around us, and by the process of moving around it, we get information that we’re not consciously aware of, and have meaning. We lose that when we’re stuck in the same place over and over again.” Working from home was pitched as liberating, but as my neighbor Lauren discovered each day, glued to her desk, it can easily become a type of incarceration. “[Remote work] degrades the human experience,” White said. “I worry about sensory atrophy. I worry about curiosity, because as soon as curiosity ends, that is the beginning of death.” 

Hmmm. I have some questions: 

  1. Joseph White says he “used to work from a dozen different spots throughout the day” but at home works at one spot. Has he thought about moving around? Maybe working elsewhere in his house, or going to a coffee shop? 
  2. Does White think that most workers have the freedom to work from a dozen different spots in their workplace? 
  3. Or, to put essentially the same question another way: Where are we more likely to be “glued to a desk,” at the office or at home? 
  4. How has White shaped his home life such that his home afflicts him with “sensory atrophy” and “the end of curiosity”? Maybe he could rearrange his furniture or something. 
  5. If we have families at home, then the more analog and connected our work lives are, the more virtual and disconnected our family lives will be; and vice versa. But is it obvious that it’s more important for us to be connected to our co-workers than to our families? That might be great for Capitalism, but not so great for Humans. 

rebellion against stability

I’m not a huge fan of the music of Kelly Lee Owens, but I am a huge fan of this interview:

“I grew up in a working class village in Wales and choirs were part of everyday life,” explains Owens. “It’s almost like National Service; everybody has to join a choir. People talk about this idea of finding your voice and I think that’s what happened when I was listening to those choirs. Hard men, ex-miners in their 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s, singing with so much passion. Music had never hit me like that before. It made me want to explore my own voice. How could I express my emotions with this sound?

“The next step was Kate Bush,” she says, laughing. 

Of course that’s how it works: you go from Welsh miners’ choirs to Kate Bush and then you become a successful musician. (Also: “My God, don’t you miss that? Don’t you miss hearing something that good in the Top 5?”) Later: 

Much as I love working on the laptop, there is something about a machine like Dark Time that I find truly inspiring. You can program whatever you want and it doesn’t matter if it’s correct or not. It’s as if analogue is designed to go wrong because you always make mistakes. You press this button or put the kick here instead of here. So much of my stuff has that. I wish you could get plugins to fuck up more than they do. I think we need more of that randomness in music! 

When the interviewer agrees and continues, “Obviously, you can do mouse clicks just as easily,” KLO replies, 

But is it as much fun? Can you still create chaos? Will that kick be ridiculously late? Are you interested in making perfect music? I’m not. What does that even mean? Perfect music. What is perfect? A lot of time in the studio seems to be spent reintroducing variation and accident. I suppose you might call it humanness. Nudging things forward, nudging them back, dipping the volumes, trying to keep the listener engaged…. Analogue keeps things interesting. It rebels against stability. 

Back to the rough ground!