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Embracing Analog: Why Physical Is Hot

As we spend ever more time in the digital world, what's becoming increasingly valued is the time we do NOT spend online or in front of a screen—the time we spend with real people and real things. As JWT observed in its Trends for 2012 report, "people are fetishizing the physical and the tactile." It's not that we're abandoning digital—far from it. But as we buy ever more apps and ebooks and downloads, as digital screens become our default interface with the world, we seem increasingly to seek out physical objects and experiences.

To find out why, Frank Rose and JWT Intelligence are designing a study to assess the emotional value we attach to physical objects as opposed to their digital or virtual counterparts. Using standard association techniques, we'll measure unconscious emotional reactions to various things—including books, music, photographs, and other people—in physical and digital form. The results will be presented and analyzed for the first time at SXSW.


  1. Why are people seeking out physical objects and experiences now? How is this manifesting itself? Please give us examples.
  2. To what extent does this overlap with other other physical trends, such as the maker movement and the slow food movement?
  3. Do we find physical objects and experiences more fulfilling emotionally than their digital counterparts? Why or why not? Are there observable physiological or neurological differences in the way we react to them? 3
  4. Is our appetite for them driven by nostalgia? Does it have a Luddite quality?
  5. What can brands do to take advantage of this development? What pitfalls should they be aware of?



Frank Rose, Correspondent, Wired

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