Sci-fi-induced-idiocy has severely altered our perceptions of the future.
Chrome-plated floors, ceilings, and walls. Transparent touch screens with rapidly flashing data. Android housemaids. Flying cars. Strange blue foods consumed through a straw. While our view of the distant future may not be the cover of a discounted 1980s paperback sci-fi, much of our understanding of the future focuses on the technological change without a regard for aesthetics. As we progress into the future, new technology rises to replace the old--but we should not forget about the form of beauty it can take.
I do not believe anyone would argue paper books to be more practical than digital e-books. Digital books are more environmentally friendly (no need to chop down trees for paper) and more economically viable, for both the writer, publisher, and reader. There is little to no overhead to generate these books as no physical materials are required. This medium for a work enables the buyer to save money and the writer and publisher to share a great percentage of the profit, for no money flows into the creation of materials. The practicality is furthered by the ease of reading--as one could theoretically carry an entire library in one's back pocket. Despite all of this, however, paper books still persist and will likely continue their existence in the coming years. There is something illogically satisfying about holding a paper book, bound and printed. Perhaps the smell of the paper? The bend of the pages? The light crackle of binding glue when pulling open the front cover? The ability to rip out pages, dog-ear the corners, and scribble broken thoughts in the narrow margins is what gives us the satisfaction. To mar a physical book and make it our own, to form a relationship with the book and have it be personalized for own agenda. It is the aesthetics that keep paper books alive.
Digital clocks are considerably more efficient than analog clocks. It is much easier to read a series of four numbers and know the exact time than deduce the approximation from twirling analog hands. Our cell phones bear the precise time from satellites. They adjust with time zones, appropriately switching with daylight-savings and leap-years. They are incredibly more practical in our daily lives, but that doesn't mean we lose the watch around our wrists. Large analog clocks look beautiful when hanging from a wall. They are a work of art, equivalent to a painting, with a slight practical purpose. The toll of a bell-tower is no longer necessary to proclaim the time when we see it in the corner of our laptop screens. The beauty of that chime and consistent rotation of the time-bearing hands gives clocks an aesthetic value that cannot be replaced, despite technological changes in efficiency.
The future will be overridden with new technology, like driver-less cars and self-regulating homes to conserve energy, but the beauty of certain technologies will be conserved for the sake of aesthetics. Paper books and analog clocks, both beaten in efficiency by new inventions, will remain a part of our lives. Aesthetic value outweighs efficiency.