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Notes on Nostalgia

The Greasers dancing in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo (2008) on a Sunday afternoon

The Greasers dancing in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo (2008) on a Sunday afternoon

Most of what I’ve read so far aligns with the findings from my prototyping research.  The content below also sheds some light on how these memories are captured and retrieved.

How to bring about nostalgia (via Psychology Today):

  • Make a list of cherished memories.
  • To jog your memory, find some photos or other mementos from good times past. (Dig up old photos and display them one by one in short time intervals to people that were in the photo).
  • Close your eyes to block distractions. Then think about what’s outside the “picture frame” to bring back subtle details. Mental imagery produces greater happiness gains than does simply looking at old photographs. (Can the photographs mentioned in previous bullet create conversations outside the “picture frame?”).
  • If possible, reminisce with people from your past. It strengthens close relationships. (The service should reward the user for accessing memories on location with other people that were a part of that memory).
  • As you go about your life, sock away good moments and mementos for later reminiscence. Take a mental snapshot and hold on to that feeling. (The possibility of simulataneous photography and sound recording).

The following discusses why memories from our early adulthood are more powerful than others (via Pyschology Today).

Though the word nostalgia may evoke childhood memories of Grandma’s baking, the studies found that, on average, people are most attached to memories from their early adulthood. Why does the critical period occur during one’s early 20s? Timothy Burke, a history professor at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, says this time of life is formative because it marks the beginning of independent choices, “the moment in which you become a volitional consumer,” as opposed to being dressed by your parents.

Another article also touches on the idea of why memories were more memorable than others. In this case, our first car, which represented our first steps to being an adult. The author then brings up a good question of whether it was the object that we had nostalgia for or was it the period in life.

It is certainly possible to hear a successful middle-aged person who has the means to buy an expensive car speak with fondness about a jalopy he drove during high school or college. Is this really nostalgia for the object itself or is it more apt to be nostalgia for a particular period of time in one’s past? For example, I may fondly reminisce about eating SPAM, but it really isn’t so much the food item itself that I am nostalgic for; instead, it is nostalgia for a time of life (childhood).

Previously, I had a concern about geotagged photos matching up with corresponding memories at a location in order for a person to fully relive a specific experience. According to another article at Psychology Today, this is not the case. Showing a photo can trigger other memories and  also reinforce the validity of memories provided by others. Of course, there’s a caveat to this (think Inception), but you know your family and friends better than I do.

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  • 14 Mar 2011

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