Nostalgia comes and goes throughout our lives, in different shapes and sizes too. Out of no where, while reading a story or seeing a photo, we’re sent back in time to a specific memory, sight, smell, sound, or taste. Eliciting nostalgia through online content is a relatively new phenomenon, or at least, it’s seen more and more, and today, there is information overload every second we exist.
Nostalgic Content In An Era of Information Overload
More messages, more alerts, more photos, more videos, and more advertisements are thrown in our faces than ever before, and when we see or hear something that connects with our past lives, we just seem to freeze, take it in, and transcend back to that moment in time. It’s not quit like an ordinary advertisement or piece of content that we can easily ignore and watch it fly by. Nostalgic content is completely different. It’s emotional.
Music and Audio Transcends Us Back in Time
Perhaps the most prominent medium for nostalgia is sound. Today, when we listen to music or hear a song that we grew up with, we’re automatically back in our bodies tuning into the radio, our MP3 player, our Sony Walkman, our iPod, or whatever device we grew up with, depending on the emerging technology of your generation.
Beyond music, we’re now seeing a Rennaissance (or at least, a return) of podcasts and audio storytelling, which may not be nostalgic for us personally, but the format certainly is. Back in the day, radio stations broadcasted long-form narratives and fictional stories, just like a podcast. It seems like there is a podcast for anything and everything today, but it’s not surprising. The medium is something our parents knew, and likely their parents as well. Audio content is still hugely important to us, but just in a different form.
Short-Form vs. Long-Form Sound
If podcasts are examples of a longer form of audio content, than sound bites, sound effects, and sound composition are the opposite. They are brief moments in time that don’t necessarily change, but still tell a story. If you’re wondering what this means, use The Museum of Endangered Sounds as an example. The digital-audio museum, created by Brendan Chilcutt, is an online site dedicated to preserving the many sounds of our favorite technologies and electronic equipment.
Brendan as an undeniable passion for these sounds. He says,
“Imagine a world where we never again hear the symphonic startup of a Windows 95 machine. Imagine generations of children unacquainted with the chattering of angels lodged deep within the recesses of an old cathode ray tube TV. And when the entire world has adopted devices with sleek, silent touch interfaces, where will we turn for the sound of fingers striking QWERTY keypads? Tell me that. And tell me: Who will play my GameBoy when I’m gone?” – Brendan Chilcutt
Admission to the Museum is Free
When you enter the Museum of Endangered Sounds (admission is free!) you’ll be greeted with visual cues to begin your time traveling adventure. Exhibitions (well, they’re just interactive sound cards) include the wonderfully nostalgic sounds of AIM, the Olympus Camera, Dial-Up Internet, Space Invaders, a typewriter, Nintendo, Windows 95, the Nokia Ringtone, Mindmaze, Tamagotchi, and a bunch more.
The difference between this museum, and ones you’ve likely experienced in person, is the personal attachment to the content. Chances are you remember what it sounded like, how you felt, and where you were when you spent hours on AOL Instant Messenger or used dian-up Internet for the first time. You might play Tetris on your mobile device today, but does it feel the same as it did on your Gameboy? Whichever nostalgic sound resonates with you the most, audio is a powerful tool in communications and emotions, and thanks to Brendan’s creation of The Museum of Endangered Sounds, those same emotions will live on, hopefully forever.