June 18, 2024

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From the Editor-in-Chief to SZ Members: “The Future of Tech Nostalgia” SZ Newsletter VOL.238 |

From the Editor-in-Chief to SZ Members: “The Future of Tech Nostalgia” SZ Newsletter VOL.238 |

This week the editorial department is busy reviewing the upcoming issue. The special topic this time is “Spatial Computing x”, a book that deals directly and in-depth with spatial computing. In the context of WIRED, it can be said that it is positioned as a sequel to Mirror World, which came out in 2019. Exactly one year ago, Apple announced its mixed reality (MR) device “Vision Pro”, and in February of this year it was released in the US , at a time when the term “spatial computing” has received renewed attention. (There are also rumors that the Vision Pro will be released in Japan at Apple's WWDC developer event, which will be held this month.)

Furthermore, the Japanese edition of WIRED will also participate in the STYLY Spatial Computing Lab, a laboratory that expands the possibilities of spatial computing. This special issue contains a variety of powerful content that will serve as foundational knowledge to advance use case creation and social implementation with spatial computing in Japan, so please look forward to its release on June 25 (oh, and if you're also an SZ member, we also recommend a discounted subscription).

Well, several articles related to “nostalgia” attracted attention this week. In an article titled “The End of the iPhone,” Ken Segal, the man who coined the iMac and created the “i” that Apple continues to use in the names of its products and services, says the “i” is no longer used. They recommend against continuing to use Apple – and Apple should move away from the “i”. In fact, the Internet-inspired word has become “obsolete and obsolete.” In addition, some say that even if Apple changes the name of the iPhone (for example) to Apple Phone, it will have no impact on sales. How long will we last in the good old Steve Jobs era?

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By the way, I was the one who worked on the Japanese translation of Ken Seagal's first book, “Think Simply,” in 2012, and I also arranged for Seagal to come to Japan as an author, and I also had fond memories of meeting Mr. Kotani, the current editor-at-large, with the editorial department at WIRED at that time. The original title of the book was “Insanely Simple,” and “insanely” was Jobs’ favorite phrase, so I really wanted to make use of it, but there was no regular translation, and the Japanese weren’t familiar with it even though it was an English word, and after a lot of thought, I settled on At the current Japanese title (there is a translation). Segal's contribution to the “i” campaign is important, but above all, the book's title pays homage to the “Think Different” campaign that Jobs worked on upon his return. There was an afterthought: Segal liked the Japanese title “Think Simply” so much that he used it as the title of his next book. One can only imagine the thoughts of Nikkei BP, which had to reconsider the title of the Japanese translation.

If the 'i' in iPhone is now associated with nostalgia, there seems to be a movement back to the past with the 'foldable phone' boom for smartphones too. This week's exclusive SZ article shows how people tired of smartphones and the Internet are turning themselves to so-called dumb phones (a colloquial term for feature phones, almost synonymous with the so-called foldable phone in Japan). This is the story of two young men in their 20s who started e-commerce as a side job with products like the Light Phone, an e-ink device that has almost nothing to do with apps, the Nokia 2780, an old flip phone, and the Swiss-made Punkt, which looks like a calculator. Sales are now said to be around 10 million yen per month (unfortunately, this is only in the US). It's a nostalgia for the form and function of a foldable phone, and just as our generation misses the black phones at home, it's a nostalgia for a time when smartphones didn't bother and addict us so much.

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According to this week's article by digital culture researcher Benoit Ballou and curator Vienna Kim, the '90s include everything from “low poly” art to “8-bit pixel art” and even the recently booming “PS2-style” filters. Visuals have been in the style of the decade. The first of the twenty-first century has served as a trend in recent years. They define this as “technonostalgia,” that is, “nostalgia born in reaction to modern technology.” But as the authors themselves say, this is nothing new. There are plenty of stories about the revival of trends over the past 20 years, but what fits into that framework varies by generation and cultural environment (such as the absorption of the music and fashion of the era). As with the “foldable phone” boom we mentioned earlier, this may be a reaction to “new technology.” But renaissance is always the opposite of “now,” or as they say, safe haven.

This is because there is another way of thinking that is the opposite of “now” and that is “future”. When I hear the phrase “tech nostalgia,” I can't help but think of the future, not the past. In other words, it is “the future as nostalgia.”