A digital image is at its core a logical abstraction of a real thing. It does not naturally exist in nature. It may be rendered. Indeed, it must be rendered in order to be experienced. But in and of itself it is nothing more than an abstract conceptualized pattern capable of being copied onto any number of electronic devices.
A photographic negative is at its core a real thing. It exists in all four dimensions, occupying all three of space as well as the one of time. If a negative rests on a table, no other physical object may share that same location at that same moment. The original light struck object - negative or positive - bears silent witness to the events directly recorded upon it. It was physically present in proximity to the subject it recorded at the moment that recording took place.
This is why the actual handling of glass plates or old negatives can be such a moving experience. Those Alexander Gardner plates were actually present right there only a few feet away when the Lincoln conspirators were hanged. As were those Robert Capa negatives exposed by him as he struggled through the unimaginable hell of the second wave on Omaha Beach. And the single negative that momentarily flashed past the high-speed motion picture shutter 0.016 seconds after the detonation of the first atomic bomb.
An original digital image file, precisely because it represents only an abstraction, may be perfectly copied an unlimited number of times. By contrast, an original photographic negative exists in exquisite physical singularity. While it may be copied, all subsequent copies are - and indeed by definition must be - different from the original.
As I've observed before, holding an antique photographic glass plate up to the light and taking a good long look is a profound experience. Holding a USB thumb drive up to the light and taking a good long look? Not so much.
I'm afraid I have to go with 'Maris' on this one...