6: Analogue escapism

We saw Digital Disruption take out Round 5, but with hints of foul play. Can Analogue Anachronism resist the riptide of Big Data and digital combinations and counter-punch back into a balanced scorecard for the bout? In this round, we will travel in an RV to the Nevada desert to explore a temporary city built on the notion of reconnection through disconnection, we will explore why the analogue outdoor sports industry is booming in response to increased digitisation of our lives, and why the spa industry has grown healthily during the global financial meltdown. Finally, we will explore why analogue hobbies like recycling have become cool for Swedish gentlemen, and why knitting is retro chic among today’s digital natives. It seems that in this chapter the old tortoise gets to the finish line before the frantic hare.

Reconnecting by disconnecting: Burning Man

The Nevada desert dust is kicking up a desert storm (see figure 6.1). It’s dusk. I have been driving for 10 hours and I’m 511 miles north of Las Vegas. I’m in the middle of nowhere — off-road, no GPS signal. I am greeted by signs encouraging ‘radical self-expression’, and advising ‘leave no trace’ and ‘don’t be an observer, be a participant’. I’m in a Ford recreational vehicle and, like 56 149 other people, I have made the pilgrimage to Burning Man at Black Rock City, Nevada. The mutant art cars, RVs and SUVs in front of me are driving at five miles an hour, yet their tyres are still disturbing the finely ...

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