Analog Hobbies and the Digital Age



Some of us remember the ‘good old days’ when cameras needed film, telephones had cords and rotary dials, and cassettes were heralded as a space-saving alternative to 8-track tapes. Other than revealing how old you are, witnessing the rush of technology to replace all our activities with digital versions has had a profound effect on many of our hobbies.

Take photography, for example. Thirty years ago, as a young photojournalist, learning how to take pictures with proper exposure, cropping and framing was as important as learning how to develop the film and print the pictures. Film cost money and we couldn’t take hundreds of shots then crop and improve them with a computer program later. Even as a hobby, cost was a consideration in learning to use a camera properly and spending time on the fundamentals of photography.


Now, on the other hand, many of the most impactful pictures have been taken with digital cameras or phones by untrained amateurs in the right place at the right time. Computers have taken a time and labor intensive hobby that was only open to people who could afford cameras and processing into the hands of everyone with a smartphone.

3 hobbies that have changed with the ongoing computer revolution

1. Music

The proliferation of computers has had a profound effect on both listening to and making music. The speed in which common storage and listening methods for music – from vinyl, to 8-track tapes, to cassette tapes, to CDs and so on has created multiple music marketplaces depending on your personal preferences.

For musicians, the change has been even more staggering. It used to be cost prohibitive to create a music album for amateurs which meant a lot of people with musical abilities would never get exposure outside of their circle of friends and family. The wholesale adoption of digital recording has allowed more musicians to record and distribute their music around the world.

2. Sports

Although computers haven’t gotten around to digitalizing sports – unless you count the numerous and successful sports based-video games like EA Sport’s Madden NFL or FIFA Soccer game series – they have made it easier for fans to follow and track their favorite teams and players.

There are more options for watching games, in or out of your geographical location, than a fan before the turn of the century could have imagined. Now, fantasy sports leagues are adding a new dimension to the hobby.

3. Gaming

Playing a game used to mean gathering a group of friends and pulling out a board game or deck of cards and passing the time in a social atmosphere. Granted, a good game of Monopoly could destroy friendships but that was all part of the fun.

play board games

Now, most games are played on the computer. Your social group may include people that you have never met before and will only ever interact with online. Although there is still a social interaction side of it, the dynamics have altered completely.

Many hobbies have changed with the introduction of affordable, portable computers but there are some activities that have no digital equivalent. With the dearth of computer flight simulators on the market, no one has ever figured out how to digitalize the process of replacing a sensenich propeller on a small plane. Nor would they want to.

Flying small aircraft transcends digital media and there is no way that the thrill and joy you get from being in an actual plane and actually flying high above the earth can be replaced with a computer version. At least not until virtual reality becomes the ‘next big thing.’