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Over more than a few pints of the finest real ale down at the local hostelry, the King’s Head, we have considered carefully the question of why it is that those in Steam Days, and us here at Newsstand, prefer steam to electric when it comes to trains. After several nights of hard thinking (drinking) we think we have got it figured out. It all comes down to a question of analogue versus digital.
We live in a modern world devoted to the digital – we use this in the most literal sense of something either being on or off, there is no middle ground of slightly on. We are woken up by digital clocks, work at digital computers that either work or don’t, and watch TV that is either working or not. Analogue, however, represents a much smoother curve – things are gradual, in the way that a mechanism based watch slowly ticks its way around rather than flipping from minute to minute. Steam is inherently analogue – you start to put coal in the fire, the water slowly heats up, the train begins to move – there is no switch to throw to turn it on, then turn it off.
Humans are not digital – it certainly takes us a long time to feel fully functional in the morning – we are analogue, and as such that is why steam still holds a place in our hearts. NB