I was reading an article:

While Bitcoin's power lies in its ability to transfer fast and securely through software, the rest of the financial world does not operate like that (contrary to popular opinion). Money is surprisingly analog in many ways, and scarily digital in others.

Is analog actually the opposite of digital?

What other better alternatives are there?


Analog, meaning non-quantized (i.e. capable of smooth variation), has become the word most often used to express a contrast to digital by default, even in cases where it may not be strictly appropriate. (It often forms the modifier in a retronym, a new word or phrase used to distinguish the original version of something from a newer rival.)

Analog probably became the word of choice after its use in analog recording (as opposed to digital recording technologies such as CDs) and analog watch (as opposed to digital watches). In both cases it was appropriate because the smoothly varying analog signal was a direct contrast to the quantized digital experience.

In this particular case, even non-digital money is quantized, but analog at least has the advantage of being readily understood.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    +1 for the retronym reference. I didn't know that word, but it's a handy concept. – FumbleFingers Nov 13 '13 at 2:46
  • 1
    Ironically many analog watches have a ticking second hand, a stepwise movement, the product of an escapement menchanism that transforms the analog action pressure of a spring into a digital-like process. – bib Nov 13 '13 at 3:52

Analogue - Relating to or using signals or information represented by a continuously variable physical quantity such as spatial position or voltage.

Digital - (of signals or data) expressed as series of the digits 0 and 1, typically represented by values of a physical quantity such as voltage or magnetic polarization.

Analogue uses Continuous Variables whilst Digital uses Discrete. Analogue is more physical than digital, like watches. Analogue watches use spatial position (a continuous variable) whilst Digital watches use 0s and 1s to show their information, which is discrete, and not continuous.

| improve this answer | |

The article might be referring to the paper money as analog while referring to the internet banking / credit card swipe transactions as digital.

| improve this answer | |
  • It doesn't seem to be so ... – VijayaRagavan Nov 13 '13 at 4:50

I think you can just use the word 'traditional', because compared with 'digital' circuit, analog circuit is traditional

| improve this answer | |
  • Completely out of context... – VijayaRagavan Nov 13 '13 at 4:51
  • And also completely incorrect. ‘Traditional’ is not a synonym for ‘analogue’. A traditional watch can easily be digital, and an analogue watch can easily be very untraditional. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 13 '13 at 9:59
  • What would a traditional digital watch look like? – Prometheus Jan 18 '17 at 15:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.