cover image The Future Is Analog: How to Create a More Human World

The Future Is Analog: How to Create a More Human World

David Sax. PublicAffairs, $29 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5417-0155-7

The Covid-19 pandemic revealed that there are limits to what an online world can and should provide, according to this provocative account from journalist Sax (The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter). Sax posits that virtual substitutes for work, school, and religious activities missed much of the point: Zoom learning, for instance, drastically limited the ability of teachers to interact with their students, and he cites studies that suggest remote work led to burnout. The online shift, Sax writes, came “at a tremendous cost to our humanity,” but a digital world doesn’t have to be the norm. Instead, Sax imagines an “analog future” that’s less a Luddite’s utopia than one that “incorporates all the hard lessons we learned from those difficult years when we lived through a screen” and consists of more outdoor dining, better libraries, accessible outdoor space, and no virtual school, which he calls one of “history’s terrible ideas.” With moving anecdotes (as when his daughter cried because online school offered “ ‘just the work, but none of the fun’ of regular school”), Sax presents a solid case that technology should keep the “real world front and center.” This up-close look at the costs of digital convenience delivers. Agent: Jim Levine, Levine Greenberg Rostan. (Nov.)