In the face of tech gloom, some cling to the joy of analog



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Posted on February 15, 2013 at 11:35 PM

Updated Saturday, Feb 16 at 2:16 AM

DALLAS -- Yes, the instant coffee's never been better. You can keep your digital music in the cloud. And with smartphones, anyone can be a photographer.

But the trouble, according to Justin Goode, is that new technology goes straight to the destination and skips the journey.

"It's a slower way to shoot and I think a better way to shoot,” said Goode, a professional photographer.

He's talking about Polaroid pictures, once quaintly known as instant photography, because pictures take minutes to develop.

Today, each piece of the rare film costs a few bucks. He also shoots 8-by-10s. Those cost $20.

"It's always the longest four minutes of my life. Every time,” Goode said.

"It's old and it's obsolete for a reason. Because it took longer, it took more effort, it took at lot of deliberation and planning,” said Abhi Biswas, a professor at UT Dallas' Jindal School of Management.

And some people still like it that way, like Bill Wisener, of Bill's Records. After decades of selling vinyl, he's still doing it, even though he loses money.

He just can't not do it.

"It's not just the record. It's the whole experience of sitting with your record. Feeling the music. It becomes a part of you,” Wisener said.  

Biswas says with most innovations there is an inherent trade off. On one hand, there are utilitarian benefits –– the upgrades that make something faster and easier to use.

On the other hand, there's what the professor calls, hedonic benefits.

"The hedonic benefit is the emotional and experiential benefits of brewing a cup of coffee from scratch,” Biswas said.

In other words: the craft.

And that's the part often left out of new, more-convenient technology.

"As your brew is happening, you need to be very focused on it. Takes a lot of concentration,” said Mike Mettendorf, a coffee sommelier at Ascension Coffee in Dallas.

Mettendorf is expert at the lost art of the siphon method, a 180-year-old process producing a cup of coffee in a blazing fast three minutes.

"There's something absolutely romantic about learning all these steps,” Mettendorf said.          

It's a love story, really, for Justin Goode, who took his passion for Polaroids and created the Instant Film Society.

"It's almost an emotional connection with it. It's a special thing,” Goode said.

Every month, he invites the public to something he calls a Pola-Walk; throwback shutterbugs strolling through Dallas.

"In a world today, with digital, everybody starves for that kind of perfection. And everybody expects it. Trying to get everyone to understand that it doesn't have to be perfect,” said Tyler Tyndell, a PolaWalk participant.

And that there's still a place for the joy of analog in our digital world.