Tech vs. Tradition: Epic battles between the old and new 

2 July 2017

Each year, technology strengthens its grip on our everyday lives. And with progress showing no signs of slowing, it’s increasingly hard to remember what life was like before the tech took over. Despite this, there are those who appear to be hankering after simpler times – ditching smartphones for 3310s, rediscovering vinyl or logging off Facebook for good.

But is this just the minority giving in to pangs of nostalgia, or is there more to it? Perhaps a growing group who have stumbled on something the rest of us haven’t yet – that things really did used to be… better?

Well, here at EE, we wanted answers. So to settle things once and for all, we pitted the old against the new to find out who wins – tech or tradition?  

Google Maps vs. Print maps
Print maps first appeared in the 15th century, as intricate parchments for intrepid explorers. Fast-forward 500 years and anyone can buy the A-to-Z for a couple of quid at the local garage. But while maps have changed over the centuries, their purpose hasn’t: getting you from A-to-B, as quickly and easily as possible. So when Google Maps came along, it was a game-changer.

Bursting onto our desktops in 2005, Google Maps took all the pain out of map reading – pinpointing your location, planning your route and even giving you directions. But the real turning point was when the app landed in 2008, placing a free, dynamic map in everyone’s pockets. It meant goodbye to unfolding giant maps, farewell to printouts for job interviews and sayonara to getting lost on holiday.

Today, anyone with a smartphone can instantly see where they are and the best route to where they’re going. So while print maps were instrumental in getting us here, it looks like they’ve finally come to the end of their journey.


Online shopping vs. High street shopping
You can now buy practically anything and everything online. From food to fridges, and cruises to currency. This means no buses into town, no Black Friday crowds and often an identical product for less – perhaps with same-day delivery! So surely this means the end of traditional shopping, right? Well, not quite…

Ever bought the right size jeans from online clothes shopping, only to find they don’t fit? Or ordered groceries that arrived, erm... less than fresh? Yep, us too! So while online shopping has given us more choice and saves us time and effort, there’s still a big place in the world of retail for an actual shop. This one’s too close to call. 


Social networking vs. Actual socialising
For over 2.5 billion people worldwide, social networking is an integral part of life – whether it’s arranging a night out on Facebook Messenger, boasting of travels on Instagram or sharing opinions on Twitter. For many, social networking now plays as big a part as traditional socialising – and there’s a lot to be said for nurturing online connections. Social networking allows us to stay in contact with old friends, meet new ones, communicate with large numbers, debate with people of different cultures, share breaking news before anyone else and even show Auntie Jan our holiday snaps.

Yet despite its plus points, does social networking really stack up against good ol’ fashioned hanging out? Would you rather message someone about their day, or chat face-to-face over dinner? Is looking at photos of the big game better than sitting in the stands – surely the digital experience can’t compete? Social networking is great if you can’t be there, but it’s no substitute for the real thing – so on this one, tradition takes it!


MP3 vs. Vinyl
No matter where you are, today’s smartphone users have access to thousands, even millions, of songs. And a few quick taps is all you need to check out the latest Ed Sheeran hit. Smartphones not only put entire music libraries in your pocket, they allow you to create your own playlists, listen to songs at random and avoid pesky scratches to your favourite Oasis album. You might think all this would confine physical formats to the past, but the stats show otherwise…

In 2016 alone, 3.2m vinyl were sold in the UK – an astonishing 53% increase on the previous year – certainly more than a few hipsters can account for! So what’s driving the record revival?

Aficionados cite all sorts of reasons for their vinyl addiction, like the artwork or listening to albums in their entirety (just as the artist intended). But the one reason that gets banded around time and time again is vinyl’s sound quality – making for a warmer and richer listen than its digital counterparts. Convincing stuff, right?  Well…

Vinyl may have better sound quality but let’s face it, you can’t walk around with a thousand records in your pocket. So while vinyl definitely has its place and makes this a close call, the combination of smartphones and MP3s just puts tech ahead.


So there we have it, a resounding 2 - 1 victory for tech, with one draw! But while it’s fun to pit these things against each other, tech and tradition aren’t actually enemies – in fact, they need one another. Tradition needs tech to stay relevant; tech needs tradition to build on. After all, when tech’s at its best, it doesn’t replace traditional approaches – it simply takes what already works and makes it better. And if any new tech rests on its laurels, there’ll always be something waiting round the corner ready to take its crown. 

EE’s 4G coverage is getting bigger all the time, especially in rural areas, and we’re the first UK network to show you our 4G geographic coverage. By 2020, our ambition is to deliver superfast 4G coverage to 95% of the UK landmass.

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