SXSW 2016 day 3: The latest digital trend? Analog.

By Scott Shulick, VP/Group Planning Director

SXSW has a reputation for being one of the best places to catch a glimpse of what innovators and thought leaders in interactive communication are up to. You can explore the issues of the day and spy trends of tomorrow. Yet for an interactive conference, there sure is a lot of “analog” here. Some may find that ironic. Others, including myself, find it refreshing.

Is it a countertrend? Perhaps. But given how inundated we are with alerts and texts and messages and emails all day long and the slave-like relationship we have to our screens  – especially the small ones we carry around and use all day, every day – perhaps a little more “analog” would do us all some good. Here’s are just few examples:

Kelli Anderson, Adobe Creative Resident, has challenged us to use our physical intuition to interpret the invisible forces of the world with lo-fi inventions such as a speaker made of paper, a camera made entirely of paper, a record player made entirely of paper, and a soon-to-be-published planetarium made entirely of…you get the point.


Ran & Max reminded us that email open rates are abysmal compared to the open rates of hand addressed envelopes.  We, as communicators, often underestimate the impact of handmade, tangible aspects of communications. What we infer through medium and effort outweighs the info that’s delivered. The most effective communication isn’t B2B or B2C. It’s you to me.

Ran and Max

Adult coloring books, collaborative murals and participatory unplugged experiences are everywhere – each available in the highest definition available: real life.

I also found myself:
·         Learning to make pop-up books
·         Converting Instagram photos to Polaroids
·         Having my portrait stitched on a sewing machine.
·         Creating an “animated gif” out of still photos, some stickers and some ingenuity
·         Collecting a variety of handmade, screen printed objects
·         Visiting Dremel, title sponsor of SXCreate (and watching how many kids already intuitively get analog.)

Analog Object

I think this quote from the American Greetings SXSW program guide here sums up why we need these lo-fi, high touch, “analog” now more than ever:

Somewhere along the way, in the race to get ahead, we lost something important. Let’s go back and find it. Let’s get back to making real connections with ourselves and those who matter most.

I think our friends at the Paper and Packaging Board ( would agree as well.

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