Nostalgiqa, from HumanSpot, Demystifies Our Memories

HumanSpot is a disarmingly humane team in a fast moving sphere. Their creative process, according to founder Paolo Ribeiro, is less about developing content and more about creating value, an effort that unravels “a human-oriented, human-curated environment where context and meaning are key.” Their most recent project, Nostalgiqa, is a social app that addresses the complexity of recording human memory by creating a private-public realm where moments can be documented and compiled piece-by-piece.
The app, Ribeiro said, is not going the route of the social network, and HumanSpot doesn’t intend to encroach on privacy in the chase for expansion. “The private side of Nostalgiqa is as important as the social side of it,” he explained. “Our approach is more like being home and, if I'm so inclined, opening a window to see what's happening outside, instead of starting right there on main street.” Users record fragments - in the form of text or photo, with more mediums on their way - which are then tied to a single memory, which acts as their aggregator. As a result, the difficulty of finding their connection in the midst of a passing event is rendered irrelevant. Instead, the pieces can be assembled at a later date, post-reflection. “It's more about introspection than extroversion,” Ribeiro said. “Focusing on fragments just feels more natural, even when we are exploring others memories. Like in a story, there are key elements that grab our attention, and a fragment can act just like this.”
Since its mid-September release, Nostalgiqa has earned praise as, in many ways, the anti-Facebook Timeline. While moving toward one another, the two services have largely different strengths: where Timeline allows you to take a tour of your life in a flow of mixed-media, it does so at the sacrifice of context; Nostalgiqa feels, to its benefit, dependent upon context. “Social networks in general are focused on growth. When you're focused on growth you want to remove all obstacles to user engagement and in the process you lose context, ending up with copious amounts of noise,” Ribeiro said. “Data crunching and filtering algorithms come to the rescue acting as the new curators, but truth is they can never replace a real person. So, you end up consuming what’s hot instead of what matters.”
Nostalgiqa’s unexpected strength is its design: original, rich, and inviting. A bit like a LiveJournal-Evernote hybrid, the interface feels primed for exploration and development. This, said Ribeiro, was an inherent quality, as memories are highly-personal and experiential. “We don't want to tell users how to use the app,” he explained. “Among other things, Nostalgiqa can be a place for users to support and inspire one another. But we also expect people to find creative uses for it. For example, I could go on a trip to New York and instead of relying solely on travel guide recommendations, I could open Nostalgiqa and look for memories others have lived around the place I'm visiting, something that could truly change my perspective on it.”
Nostalgiqa’s future looks bright for a number of reasons, the most notable of which is its delicate balance. The memory-making process, to the extent that it mirrors our own internal approach, adds strength to the communal features, but it also functions in its own right. For many, going public with mixed-media has already been achieved through the likes of Twitter and Facebook, but Nostalgiqa prevents the disparate pieces - the images, the words, the sounds - from separating further; take a look at a personal text from last week just to see how quickly a shortage of context can take the weight out of a sentence. Rather than stray too far from the mainstay, HumanSpot has successfully found a small void with big meaning, and forthcoming changes will truly illuminate how tightly they’re bound to this vision. “We want to be different, but not for the sake of being different,” Ribeiro said. “I don't want to disclose everything yet, but Nostalgiqa is just the beginning of a much broader vision, a cloud-based world where we hope to see people connecting and interacting in more meaningful and interesting ways.”

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