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Everything old is new January 9, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.

store   Some web entrepreneurs are trying to capitalize on vintage views of the world as it was several decades ago. Perhaps it is the country becoming more wistful and nostalgic for simpler days, but I have come across several interesting sites and they actually have a big picture application to teachers.

One site hosts photographs belonging to an unknown family. At least the web owners claim it is an unknown family. They specialize in sharing found objects on their site including detailed photographs of a guitar case laden with stickers and full of miscellaneous items. You can purchase clocks, mugs, and more with images of this family. On a similar note, a friend of mine has a relation who is starting a business of making tableware with vintage, public-domain, images. Many of the shots are from old movies that have been enhanced only slightly.

The same site has a collection of Hand Knits for Young Moderns. They captured these images from the covers of a stack of knitting patterns they found. I mentioned in a previous post that old film and found images are taking a place of interest in the Internet world. I theorize that this is because these images shift us out of the present and demand that we use our full observing potential when looking at them.

In the young moderns, for example, we look at a couple and note that her make up is a little more exaggerated than we are used to and that the postures are awkward and ungainly. We also look at the setting, the clothing, the accessories, and make note of any unusual atmospherics we can perceive. We shift out of the year 2005 and are looking at the world of 1965 with different eyes. Perhaps we laugh; perhaps we wonder. After spending a while looking at these items we might end up thinking about how the future will perceive our own time.

It is the idea of intense observation that I have tried to bring into the classroom. In one lesson, a Social Studies teacher was looking for some great writing prompts for a unit she was doing on the Civil War. I found a great site with images from the Civil War organized chronologically by the Library of Congress. I asked the teacher to pull out several images that might have told an interesting story. The students then could use the image to illustrate a story or a diary entry from a young soldier in the war.

Burial of soldiers in Virginia



1. Zs - January 10, 2006

I think there will be always people, of different ages, or I might say of a certain age range, who will think about the old days. It comes especially once you are not a teenager, or adolescent anymore. I was talking with a friend of mine yesterday about the fact that when we were in college we thought about the 40-ish year women as OLD!!!! Now we in our after 40 :-) we think of us as not as old and we perceive the 60-70 year olds as olds…
Kids of 8-10 looking at our high school pictures think about them as very old pictures. When I look at my childhood albums and see my parents’ dressing style I smile. I see my teeneager time pictures and smile. As you well say, it will come a time when we look back to old pictures and interestingly we think about a time when our present pictures of 2006 will be seen by some kids as “old.”

By the way did you know that we develop our episodic memory because we have parents and care givers telling us about our very young age, baby times, young childhood, times when we are not able to remember our memories. Research in orfancages (lots of them in Romania unfortunately) shows that those children raised in orfancage from very young age, who did not have a permanenet care giver, and whom nobody told about their “memories” will have a hard time in developing their identity. We most of us are so fortunate to have parents, grandparents, aunts, cousins, who tell us stories about who and how and what we did when we were very young kids.
One more reason perhaps why we are interested in the past, fascinated to look into someones’ pictures, items, personal effects.

2. Zs - January 10, 2006

:-) why did I spell twice in the previous message “orfancage”? Freud would say I think about orfanages as: cages for children. And really Freud is so right! They are awful, especially in Romania!

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