Digital Vs The Real World: Can Digital Ever Entirely Win?

Digital developments have revolutionized the way we work, socialize and experience the world. Thanks to virtual reality agencies like REWIND, we can now watch our favorite TV shows in full 360 degree video. In their collaboration with Strictly Come Dancing, that meant watching “from the heart of the dance floor”.

Yes, there’s a lot we owe to the amazing world of tech and there’s a huge demand for more innovation too. However, at the same time we are unwilling to allow our lives to be completely replaced by the digital world, no matter how immersive it may be.

Processing information from a screen

Earlier this month Waterstones made the decision to stop selling Kindle ebooks as sales have plummeted. At the beginning of 2015 they noted that Kindle sales essentially ‘disappeared’ after reaching their peak in 2011.

Could the Kindle’s sales peak have come at a time when we were starting to get over the possibility of using technology to replace books? Overall, it certainly seems as though consumers ended up showing preferential treatment for the latter.

One answer points toward our ability to process digital information. Scientific America says that ‘modern screens and e-readers fail to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper’.

Digital learning cannot replace real world learning

Learning from a screen, as with reading, can also be a less well-rounded experience. This year has seen the acquisition of Lynda by LinkedIn. The purchase of the online learning resource is said to be a great investment due to the shift toward flexible, digital learning. However its didactic nature could make it harder for ‘students’ to absorb information.

The three main types of learning are visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. Visual and auditory learning can be achieved through elearning, however it still isn’t the same as a classroom environment. Classroom training company Activia Training write about how the flexibility of online learning can make it a very convenient option, however a lack of human contact can decrease motivation and energy levels.

Many businesses have an online option for many of their courses. The Art of Meditation for example host meditation retreats as well as online courses. However, they are very keen to express that an online course or an app can be good ground work but will not be the experience needed to truly grasp the subject.

The real world has been forever, but the digital one has just started

Many digital companies are pushing the boundaries of experience through technology. Digital publishers The Pigeonhole have created an online reading experience that is interactive – allowing users to communicate with the author or access extra content in a variety of mediums

For now, it seems that we can still favour an element of tactility and human interaction over innovative technology. But as time goes on and our culture grows evermore digitised, will we process information, learn and interact differently?

Image Credit: Flickr / Kenneth Lu’s page / cropped, resized

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Written by:
Simon Davies is a London based freelance writer with an interest in startup culture, issues and solutions.
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