Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Analog versus Digital

A number of years ago I read an article in Smithsonian Magazine about the difference between Analog and Digital time.  I don’t remember all the points the article made, but I remember the impression it left.  I have often thought since that time about the difference a timepiece makes. Almost everything in my house reads digitally, my phone, clock radio, stove top and computers, however, my favorite wristwatches are all analog and I have an analog clock on my chimney that I look at each night.

So what’s the big difference you say? Why after taking a hiatus from writing (6 weeks) am I spending time on clocks and time. Well, here’s the reason, I've changed jobs since writing the post and find myself “pushed” by the clock. I don’t like running on digital time, where I push myself to the last minute before going to a meeting or leaving to go home. I don’t like having to count minutes; thinking “oh, I have 3 minutes before I have to leave” or “I’m 2 minutes late.”  I find when I use analog time, my life runs on “its quarter of, 10 past, almost half past guess it’s time to leave.”

I have enough problems with perfectionism that I don’t need to add precision to my time-keeping.  This tendency can get out of hand if I count minutes; having to be places exactly on time and not a minute late.  When I use an analog clock I arrive to meetings early, am more relaxed, plan better.  When I use digital clocks I stress, I’m distracted and too focused on the minutes ticking by and generally arrive later than I want to do because of waiting 2-3 minutes longer than I should have and am not as well prepared. Plus, a huge negative is I begin to apply the same digital standards to others, feeling they are late if the digital display on my computer or phone reads a minute or two after the appointed meeting time.

From the website: https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/analog-vs-digital, I found the best summation for what I am trying to say: 

“There are an infinite amount of colors to paint an object (even if the difference is indiscernible to our eye), there are an infinite number of tones we can hear, and there are an infinite number of smells we can smell. The common theme among all of these analog signals is their infinite possibilities.

Digital signals and objects deal in the realm of the discrete or finite, meaning there is a limited set of values they can be.”

Although I had never thought of this difference, it really does make sense why someone creative could struggle with digital time keeping. I like the whole idea of living with infinite possibilities rather than finite values. Everyone likes to say “think outside the box,” while looking at their digital clocks. I want to live free in my analog world, and looking for others to join with me. So for those of you who don’t like “religious” stuff best to stop here. 

I want to say in closing, the GOD I believe in is analog. Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection are the ultimate example of infinite possibilities in a world full of finite values.  Analog is grace and mercy, digital is “the law.” Hebrews tells us, faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen.  How analog can you get! I am going to be praying for analog faith, the type of faith that chooses to see the infinite possibilities (even that which is beyond my natural eye) rather than dwell on the finite (that which can only been seen with the natural eye.)

I’m not getting rid of my digital clocks anytime soon, but trust me I’m going to be mindful of how digital my thoughts are each day. I hope you will do the same. As always, this is my opinion, and that and $2.50 will get you a cup of coffee.  


  1. I'm "with you" on this one. Digital can be so stressful.

  2. Very interesting perspective. Food for thought. Never thought of it before, but I think you are right.