I have sitting on a shelf in my workshop an iOS 7 model smartphone. It no longer holds a charge. No one remembers the original passcode (and we only have one chance remaining before it bricks itself, never to be accessed again). You may be wondering, why on earth is he saving a 6-year old phone. It’s because it was never backed up to the cloud. It was a photo album from which the photos were never printed and in some case contains the only visual records of some key lifetime events.
They were captured in the moment in all their digital glory. But in that same vein, they are now lost because of security requirements that both protect and restrict our access to the data. It is in this light I am returning to a practice of printing my photos, and with that I have come to appreciate the tangible nature of holding a photo in my hands. The same goes for my collectibles and building blocks with my grandchild. This is not to say NFTs will never have a place and Minecraft is totally out, they each have their merit. They do, however, lack a physical nature that even haptic enhanced Metaverse experiences are still a ways from making ubiquitous.
An interesting trend for GenZ is reemergence of the analog world. My daughter is a GenZer and she and her friends are absolutely enrapt with the mini-Polaroid camera. Given the nature of the Polaroid, they have relatively instant results, but there is still a level of patience and chance allowing the photo to be less than perfect and more authentic than those they might capture using their smartphones. This generation that grew up immersed in technology now frequents bookstores, Goodwill stores, coffee shops (for real, live conversations), and live concerts. They even prefer old phonograph albums over digitized music. When I asked why, the common answer they give is it “feels better” and “it’s real.” I have also noticed in our world of instantaneous everything, they enjoy the slower pace and calmness that comes from analog.
They are not luddites. They still value their smart devices, connectivity, Google maps, and Amazon next day delivery. They want a balance, and their population is large enough to validate bringing back aspects of the past to blend with the benefits of tomorrow. While not nearly as dystopian as Blade Runner, at least for this generation the future looks to embrace this blend of old and new. They want a sense of permanence and stability. Previous generations are marked by pyramids, stone engravings, oil and fresco paintings, scrolls, and fossils. In a digital only world, a few targeted EMPs (electromagnetic pulses) and it is gone. In ancient times, there was a saying that was something like, if you want to be remembered carve your name on a stone stele. GenZ’s new found passion is a way to preserve humanity’s history.
(for another perspective on this topic, Blair Currie of Forbes wrote this piece
For more on the future of humans, augmented humans and non-humans, check out http://transhumanresources.org