Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman used to playfully describe himself as ‘analogue in a digital world’ when faced with a fancy dance routine that may have caught the eye but not necessarily ticked the boxes required of a specific dance style.
You could call Len old-fashioned, even fuddy-duddy, but that didn’t make him wrong.
If you visit our Media Centre in Worcester you’ll see lots of old-style analogue media equipment from reel to reel tape machines to chunky microphones, big headphones, speakers and our trusty record turntable.
They’re partly on display to emphasise our media experience, to spark conversations and show how technology has gradually slimmed down. But we’re also making an important point – technology doesn’t necessarily produce better results.
Those big ol’ machines might not be as nifty, easy to use or able to do things their contemporary digital brethren can – but they have a key characteristic. They sound great and provide an audio richness their modern equivalents can’t match.
Digitalisation – speed, size, immediacy etc – may be more practical but there’s often less bandwidth so the sound is literally condensed. Something is lost in the process. The art of production is no less crafted, you just can’t necessarily hear the difference.
I discovered the impact of this when I got some old vinyl out when we moved in to the Media Centre.
One day, I was playing The Beatles’ Day Tripper and moved by the clarity of power of the guitar riffs which evoked memories of why I first loved this music way back (and still do).
It also triggered memories of feeling flat when I bought a Beatles Greatest Hits CD a few years back, slid it into my car stereo for a long journey but…something was missing – that full sonic sound that gave The Beatles an early edge on their contemporaries. The essential richness and therefore the power to truly connect had gone.
So, there’s a message here with modern communication.
Yes, we have more ways than ever to communicate with almost anyone, anywhere in the world, immediately, (relatively) cheaply, visually, audibly, graphically and we can send information in seconds that would once take days, weeks, even months.
But if somewhere along the way we get trapped by the need for speed and breezily go about communicating in a carefree, impersonal, dismissive, blasé, hasty and possibly even rude or mean-spirited way we lose the essence of communication – to connect. To move people. To add to the greater good.
We’re missing out. Big time. It is all for nothing. In fact, it can even be divisive and damaging.
Now, I’m not saying don’t use modern technology or the latest online platforms. Far from it. They do what they do best and will probably be as revivalist in time as vinyl and ¼ inch tape is today (even cassette and Polaroid cameras are making a retro comeback!).
Just apply some ‘old school’ sensibility. Treat your contacts and customers in an analogue way… digitally.
If you enable them to feel rich in the way you communicate with them and give them your best (not just your most convenient) – and listen to them in turn they’ll appreciate it and you’ll see the difference in the relationships you build which is what life and business is all about.
Hey, you may even pick up the phone or have a face-to-face meeting which is as analogue as it gets – no crossed line of communications and you can see and hear them in perfect, real time, clarity. Now there’s a thought…
You won’t regret it.
Chris Green is managing partner of Chris Green Media.