My ten favourite personal analogue things

  • Mechanical watch – despite having no discernible mechanical talent, I have always been fascinated by inner workings of mechanical things large and small from car engines to watch movements. Move forward to my mid-20s when I was scuba diving, I relied on a watch to keep an eye on the elapsed time under water. One thing I found is that even a hint of moisture was enough to kill a quartz movement and so my love affair with mechanical watches started
  • Moleskine notepad with engineering squares – whilst I do digital things, I sometimes find it easier to do my visual thinking on notepads and sheets of paper. I use engineering paper for this in a moleskin book and scan the results into flickr for posterity. It means that my blog posts can take a distinctly analogue feel at times when I ‘show the sausage factory’ and put my scans in the post. The book also contains half-developed ideas that get fleshed out on the paper before being blogged about. I keep my book inside a Rickshaw Bags portfolio to keep my ideas safe and dry
  • Muji gel ink black pens – Stephen Waddington considers his Montblanc pen as an essential luxury, my preferences in writing are a bit cheaper. I buy these pens in packs of six. I like their simple translucent barrel and the ink flows easily without smudging
  • Wired magazine (US print edition) – Wired US is a constant joy with features that have cutting edge illustrations. Of course it isn’t as good as it was with typographic swirls and metallic inks, but then now it makes money
  • Monocle magazine (print edition) – Monocle’s clean fresh design and irreverent illustrations have become an analogue reading ritual for me. The online edition whilst informative and well-read just doesn’t come to life in the same way. However the publication could do with less Blackberry adverts
  • O’Reilly Publishing reference books – when things go wrong, it is reassuring to fall back on O’Reilly’s reference books. They don’t need a battery, they don’t make a sound and don’t display error messages (except as illustations)
  • Oblique Strategies card deck – Brian Eno came up with these set of cards that provide ideas of looking for creative solutions. Brilliant for when I am butting my head against a wall thinking about how I can make a me-too drug for an embarrassing or harrowing condition come to life through digital
  • Short wave radio – I own a Sony ICF-CD2000 radio which has the shortwave band on it. Staying in a strange hotel like business travel I would tune the radio out of a radio station and leave the white noise bubbling away through the night to mask the sounds of the hotel and get a good night’s sleep
  • Vinyl records – with CDs and to even a greater extent MP3s we lost frequency response. Whilst I use an iPod for travelling at home I still love vinyl which I play at home
  • Matmos lava lamp – now and again whilst working on this blog or doing some serious thinking work at home I like to look away from the screen and let the thinking happening in the background. I have a couple of Matmos Telstar lava lamps in green and red that I end up staring at until inspiration strikes

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