Friday, May 04, 2012

Social Nostalgia


This was originally going to be a comment on Phil's post on the Platform Wars blog, but after writing it I feel the idea has its own post legs... Please read Phil's post first for context, but in summary, he wonders if Facebook bought Instagram for the data relating people to the places they tell stories about.

Coming from a lo-fi/analogue film perspective, the whole idea of "Simulated Retro" is intriguing to me in itself too.

The creation of things which appeal to our sense of memory is currently huge. Pop songs (and mash-ups) remix old tracks, or combine current popular artists with dead ones, etc. Films rely on previously-successful franchises. Even "Prometheus" is effectively a form of simulated retro.

Facebook basically does the same thing as Instagram - they tie together the "now" (publishing content) with the "then" (content that invokes memories of a better time).

Facebook does it through social history, notionally the idea that you can reconnect to long lost friends/enemies and individually through their Timeline. It's no wonder that the Bring-Back-Wispa campaign started on Facebook, when it's basically a network for reminiscence.

Instagram does the job through special effects and graphical layers. In a time when authentically old cameras are cheap, new-old cameras are expensive, and film is either getting more expensive and harder to process, or is actively dying off, re-capturing/re-creating nostalgia on a large scale has to be a digital process.

"Social Nostalgia" - mining the past to create a twisted present - is big money.

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