This is huge. Watch the video. As a musician I’m intimately familiar with the process of having sound choked and severely limited as it travels out of the studio and into a digital format. Pono’s ability to reproduce the capacity of the studio and the artist’s intention will be revolutionary. Leave it to Neil Young. I love that man.
But the larger trend that I hope we’re seeing is the ability of the universe of digital tools to more seamlessly replicate the intentions of our very analog, human expressions. I am hoping that we can look at our place in technological time and say that for two decades we have been in the infancy of digital technology, a dark ages of gear headed, internal reflection, and that now we are moving away from a fixation on the tools themselves and how to use them and back to the creation of content that intimately suits our needs. The trend across devices is toward simple gestures, worn devices and integrated circuitry. Devices increasingly communicate with each other to anticipate human needs. And interfaces become increasingly minimal, reducing the complexity of user manuals and increasing reliance on user intuition. The trend is toward reducing the extent to which our person to person relationships are mitigated by our person to device relationships. It’s difficult but very important to remember that the point of design, and of art and music, is to improve human relationships. When people and design behaviors become too focused on the technology, the tool, the device, then design is failing.
The transition to digital has been clumsy and I have lamented the loss of many small experiences from the age of analog not long ago. Tape hiss. Vinyl noise. Static noise. Knobs and buttons with mechanical connections to solid state functionality. For millennials and many others, the accessibility of Arduino programming is– forgive the expression– a digital analog to these direct old interfaces and user experiences. Ultimately, the experience of creating analog artifacts from analog interfaces is not replicable via digital. But our increasing ability to replicate analog artifacts with digital technology increases the transparency of creative media and the joy of artistic expression.
It’s moving to watch the testimonials of so many revered artists after they step out of Neil Young’s Cadillac having heard Pono for the first time. It’s like getting a little of your life back.
Can’t wait to get mine. Read more about Pono here.
My hearing is a little shot so I frequently hear people ask each other for this. It brings me a quiet laugh so I thought I’d mock it up and share.