Digital V's Analogue?

A few years ago, I conducted a kind of Vox Pop survey on both the VET students and my Diploma of Photoimaging students, I was teaching at the time, on Computers, and analogue image making. The responses got me thinking about the nature of Digital compared to analogue. We are approaching a generation who won't have the knowledge, appreciation or understanding of analogue. In some ways I just wonder if this is really important, in other ways I am incensed that people think digital is inherently better. So what are the advantages to digital over analogue? How do you describe the differences between the two? Is there any point in making comparisons, am I indeed comparing Apples to Pears?

Lets start with dictionary definitions, abridged from my Macquarie Dictionary.

of or pertaining to information represented by patterns made up from qualities existing in two states only, on and off, as pulses (opposed to analogue): digital signals.
of or pertaining to any device which represents a variable by a continuously moving or varying entity as a clock, the hands of which moves to represent a varying amplifier output energy.

This actually doesn't really clear things up for me. I guess what these definitions are really saying is that Digital is either on or off where as analogue is variable depending on input? This means that the output from analogue input devices, film, is not simply a matter of on or off. Exposure is not a straight line occurrence, factors like exposure development time and temperature affect the resulting negative sometimes adversely.

I do know for example that each step in the process of analogue photography if incorrectly handled can result in a loss of information and/or sometimes a distortion of that information.

For example re-copying an image results in an increase in contrast if you don't use the right type of film and pay careful attention to your exposure & development. Duplicating a digital file results in none these problems.

Is this then why people prefer digital over analogue, I know some of the responses I got from my VET class in particular hinted at ease of use, “it's easier”. Yes analogue requires a high level of input to to master, but is that a bad thing? As Peter Dormer talks about in his book The Art of the maker, often learning a craft takes time and working closely with a skilled person for that period of time. What kind of losses are being incurred by the speed of the digital process over the analogue? I feel the need for a table here a table of comparative results between the two processes.

Pros and Cons of Digital and Analogue Photography
Digital Pros Cons
Speed. May mean practitioners, will shoot 'by the pound' and add to a future workload of sorting.
Ease of Use Storage mediums can be a problem, as technologies upgrade
Limitless copying. Manipulation Applications don't allow an under the hood approach to most users, compared to film developer and paper developers.
Instant feedback. Can be distracting as it will draw your attention away from what is going on around you, meaning less possible opportunities, photographically.
Storage space for images/files. Ease of deletion could mean a loss of cultural history, or just an overwhelming amount of bad photographs, anecdotally 3,000 images a minute are uploaded to flickr alone.
Democratic process, can be easy to learn. Small to non existent history of published texts
Only requires a desk and electricity, no special room. Storage types and Mediums change making large archives difficult to manage, you must have electricity.
No ongoing film costs. Sorting and archiving of files requires all manner of software and tools to operate
Camera Prices drop exceptionally every two years or so. Hardware and software requirements may mean constant upgrades.
More flexibility with ISO means less gear to carry. Location shooting requires hardware to process, archive and sort. Adding considerably overall weight of a camera/travel bag, and to time and cost involved in 'editing', batteries must always be charged and ready, spare batteries for cameras a must, if you are a prolific shooter.
Raw files allow more exposure options, thereby enabling richer fuller print. Raw formats at the date of writing are a moving target, some software, photoshop for example needs to be kept up to date to open and process these files, from recent cameras.
Analogue Pros Cons
Easy to learn Can be hard to master
Comparatively cheap basic/starter equipment Mastering of technique often requires and 'apprenticeship' of sorts
Processes can tinkered under the hood easily, long history of published texts Storage of film and prints requires physical space.
Simple to control {once mastered} Unexposed materials require special handling, refrigeration/darkroom
No loss if treated with the right approach to entire process Losses are uneditibale if too extreme.
Film has better exposure latitude than CCD especially negative films Calibration maybe required to really understand what is going on.
Older film Cameras, were made to last many years, many require no batteries thereby lowering the load of the photographer ‘on location’ Film needs to be stored correctly and may one day cease to be made.