Print out photos of your friends. Stick them on your wall. What are they doing? How can you support them? A regular reminder to give them a call.

Printing out photos of your friends speaks to at least five points on the Analogue Skills manifesto:

  • Don’t delegate responsibility to the machines/ Resist life as content
  • Much less is much more/ Embrace inconvenience
  • Share, swap and learn from others
  • Forget the unimportant and remember the valuable.

Don’t delegate responsibility to the machines/resist life as content

When we are shown our friends’ faces on social media, it is encourage us to spend more time looking at adverts. The images the of the people we love as bait for a commercial transaction. Our lives and the lives of others are rendered into mere content. If we see one friend’s face more than another’s, it is because an algorithm has determined that that image is likely to keep us engaged with our screen for longer. 

To print out photos photos of friends and stick them on the wall is a subversive act. It says I own my memories and I can display them where I chose. 

Much less is much more/embrace inconvenience

I lost my photos of a year of studying in Paris when my backup failed. The only photos that I have left from that really formative year in my life is a dozen printed photos I took with a rejuvenated Polarid camera. But I am grateful for this handful of pictures, that are enough to unlock hundreds of memories and are a reminder to stay in touch with those people. 

I have noticed an unusual effect. The more photos I take, the less valuable they become. Take a photo of you and a friend, print it out and it becomes something to cherish, infungible – not easily scrolled past and replaced by the next one. The inconvenience of the act makes it more unusual and therefore more valuable. 

Share, swap and learn from others

Take a photo, print it out and share it with friend. It says I care about you. I have made the effort to create a real thing for you. Not a transient image, but a tangible, permanent mark in the physical world. A photograph from a friend puts time on hold.

Forget the unimportant and remember the valuable

There are so many burdens on our attention that it is difficult to avoid the unimportant to remember the valuable. Daniel Pink, in his book ‘To Sell is Human’, describes research in which doctors analysing medical scans are much more likely to spot secondary tumours when the scan is accompanied by a photo of the patient. It is as if the photo turns up the volume on the empathy channel and makes them tune more to the needs of the patient.

I am surprised by how easy it is to feel alone despite the massive connectedness that our digital devices afford. I see the printed photograph as a way to turn up the volume on the relationships that we really value. It’s an always-on reminder that there are people out there who love you and who need your love, to think of them and for them to think of you.

What is the Analogue Skills project?

The Analogue Skills Project is my attempt to gather together and keep safe less digital ways of doing things in case we need them again. My aim is to discover/redicover ways of being, feeling and acting that might serve us better.

Read more about the project here and check out my latest posts: