Scholar Exhibits

Considering Our Tech-nostalgia

A hundred years ago nostalgia was thought to be a psychological affliction, something that had a pronounced impact on an individuals cognition and ability to function in everyday life. Typically associated with geographical displacement, nostalgia was (and to a certain degree still is) synonymous with longing and a sense of homesickness for ones "place" - figuratively and literally. Nowadays it is more likely to hear nostalgia uttered in conversations about missing a time that felt simpler, safer, and “better,” or in reminiscences of yesterdays technologies that offered a tangible interaction with its user and seemed “easier.” Herein lies the backbone of what has been referred to as technostalgia: the affinity for antiquated technologies and a desire to utilize both obsolete and modern technologies (hardware and software) to re-imagine, re-live, or outright emulate aspects of our collective history, particularly music and the visual arts. Real-life examples of tech-nostalgia’s impact on our popular culture can be seen in the myriad filters which allow for the masking of our digital photographs in veils of fauxhistory, and the use of audio manipulation programs to emulate aesthetics, such as vinyl record pops and hisses, associated with a bygone, analog-only era. With a revived interest in resurrecting and recreating the physical medium in the form of record players, rotary telephones, and obsolete computer hardware, the hope is to physically connect with the past and establish a tangibility so often lost in our wireless world. This serves to complicate the tech-nostalgia concept even further. In this collection I will explore the concept of tech-nostalgia and its ability to make the passé, popular and the imperfect, fashionable. I will also highlight the genre of electronic music called, hauntology, as a specific manifestation of tech-nostalgia. As technology and interconnectivity become more streamlined with our everyday lives we seem to be both attracted and resistant to staying afloat in a sea of rapid technological changes and development. This notion will help guide my examination into tech-nostalgia. Lastly, I hope to offer insight into how the tech-nostalgia idea could be offering archivists, conservators, and information professionals new ways of thinking about our moving image and sound heritage in the digital age.

John Campopiano

John Campopiano Originally hailing from Rhode Island, John Campopiano studied ethnomusicology at Wheaton College and soon thereafter realized his real passion was to be found off the musical stage. Several years after taking a job archiving the personal collection of noir-pianist, Ran Blake, he discovered the archival science profession. In 2011 he entered the Library and Information Science graduate program at Simmons College and in the spring of 2013, soon after graduating from Simmons, began work at the Jewish Women's Archive in Brookline and the Harvard Film Archive in Cambridge. He is now Records Manager for Frontline at GBH. His research interests include tech-nostalgia, the intersection between nostalgia and popular culture, digital preservation, and anything related to archival science. In his spare time, John enjoys watching and discussing films - particularly horror films and anything from Greenland - hiking, and playing his fretless banjo.


Advisers Consulted During the Creation of this Collection were Dr. Ross Harvey, an Adjunct Professor at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia who was Visiting Professor at GSLIS, Simmons College, from 2008 to 2013; & Matthew Spry.