The future of nostalgia

I had never really considered myself a historian until I participated in the recent Social Media Breakfast Syracuse event, Social Media And The Power Of Nostalgia. People at that event kept referring to me as a historian, which I thought sounded odd at the time. To me, a historian is someone who sits in an old building, surrounded by dusty old file cabinets containing pictures over 100 years old. If anyone wants to look at these pictures, they have to pay by the hour to do so. I, on the other hand, have all of my pictures and videos on a hard drive and back-up DVDs. Most of the things I have are 20 to 30 years old and everything is shared for free online.

So, that’s why I never considered myself a historian. But, then, is there a word for what I do? My site is called Syracuse Nostalgia. Nostalgian would make a good Sniglet but I can’t really pretend that’s a word. So, I guess I am a historian for my generation. Previous generations could not save their collections digitally, so they had to save them in the aforementioned file cabinets. While I understand the importance of 100+ year old pictures and documents, I’ve been trying to collect more recent items that people will remember. This is a fun hobby, but has also proven to be quite difficult and sometimes expensive. Also the process of transferring some of these items, specifically the videos, to a digital format has proven to be quite expensive. I currently own a U-Matic video player and a couple of Betamax and VHS VCRs. I’ve also had to send out some video reels to companies and have them transferred to DVD for large sums of money. So, I’ve been finding the old pictures, documents and video tapes, transferring them to a digital format and posting them online. Sort of bridging the gap between the old historians and today.

Now this brings me to the next generation of historians (or nostalgians, if you’d like). The future of this hobby, or whatever you’d like to call it, will be drastically changed in 20 or so years. Now, I can find people who have saved old pictures and want to share them. I can go to an estate sale and find a bunch of old Betamax tapes containing some great old news footage from 25 years ago.

TANGENT ALERT! Some people (even some local news personalities) have wondered why I collect and share old local news broadcasts. To me, an old local news broadcast is just about the best thing to watch to see exactly what was going on in your community at the time. Not only with the news stories, but with the technology used in the broadcast, the fashion and trends, and even the commercials. Believe me, in 30 years we will even be nostalgic for all those Alexander & Catalano and Fuccillo commercials. Ok, maybe not the Fuccillo ones. END OF TANGENT!

With everything being digital now, it will not be possible to just find someone’s old video tapes in 20 years. Everything is recorded on DVRs now, which are typically owned by the cable company. So, everything you tape now will not be found by your grandchildren in 30 years. It will just be erased by you or the cable company. The only ones that will have this historic video footage will be the cable companies and networks, who will only let you see what they want you to see or, more likely, what you pay to see. Historic pictures will also be more difficult to find. Unless someone purposefully takes pictures of historic buildings, events, etc and saves these pictures, transferring them to whatever current format exists, they will be nearly impossible to find. Again, the only ones that will have them will be the news companies, who will most likely charge people to see their archives. I, personally, think a town’s history should be free for everyone to see.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology and I’m all for things moving forward. I’m just saying that in 20 years it won’t be easy to find the things from today. So, if you want to remember what you have now, be sure to take pictures and/or video and save them in a safe place.

Please be sure to visit my sites and follow me on Facebook and Twitter!

Syracuse Nostalgia
Penn Can Mall

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