Customised Curated Memories

Ethan's birth was one of my life's biggest moments

In a consumer world awash with an endless stream of innovative products and services, there appear to be one thing that's missing. And that is to tap onto a customer's deep and intimate memories.

Now wait a minute. Isn't that the same as what peddlers of nostalgia goods are already doing?

After all, there are many companies already offering antique furniture, retro T-shirts, Goods Of Desire (G.O.D.), and "good ole days" F and B products (like Ya Kun Kaya Toast)?

We also have radio stations like Gold 90 FM and Class 95 which play music from the 70s, 80s and 90s, helping us to relive those magic moments of yesteryear.

The problem with such products and services, however, is that they tend to be generalised towards broad trends and tastes. For instance, adults born in the 70s (like me) do know the differences between Bee Gees and Bananarama. However, our personal memories are likely to be distinct and unique.

We usually recall with great clarity certain key milestones in our lives. They include our first day in school, Basic Military Training (for Singaporean guys like me who did National Service), graduation, marriage, the birth of our children, our first job, or the death of a loved one.

These vivid encounters often possess artefacts such as objects, places, scents and songs that are attached to them. They can range from the restaurant where you first dated your future wife, a song that your platoon sang as you marched into the jungle during BMT, or the scent of flowers while you're hospitalised.

Because of their impact, the sensations of such pivotal periods reach deep into our beings. Individually or collectively, they trigger off powerful emotions of love, hatred, joy, anxiety or fear. Recalling these flashbacks and talking about them can be very therapeutic, especially amongst those who shared similar episodes.

This is why and more recently the Singapore Memory Project have taken off rather successfully. Such endeavours help to tap on the growing wave of interest in nostalgic reflection and recollection.

I wonder though if there is scope to do more. It'll be great if there is a way for commerce and community to meet, where companies could offer personalised products, services and more importantly, experiences, that bring back a sweet slice of the honeyed past back to life.

Such an offering could provide choreographed experiences that match back as close as possible to one's preferred past (of course few would want to relive a nasty memory!).

If I were to start such a venture, I would ask as many questions as possible of a potential client, tracing and detailing his or her personal journey. Naturally, these must match his or her comfort levels.

Depending on one's budget and determination, one could recreate a scene from the past and even involve the people who were there, bringing back elements of that event back to the present.

For example, a football match between childhood friends ow turned silver-haired kakis, complete with "Milo Peng" and shoes as goal posts. Or something as sophisticated as the renewing of one's vows with one's dearly beloved at the same hotel or same church, with the same group of witnesses (those still alive of course).

This curation of customised experiences can take place anywhere, anytime with anybody, depending on the contexts of one's memories. To enrich this "blast from the past", such "curated memories" could come with an accompanying book or souvenir booklet detailing richly what took place that eventful day/night/week years ago.

To ensure success, strict confidentiality and privacy must be adhered to, as memories are precious and invaluable. Nothing can be more sacred than a special encounter shared between you and your friends, family members and loved ones.

Is this just a silly idea? Or would people be willing to pay to literally bring back the past?

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