Rumination 57: Subconscious Ferrari

More and more these days, you hear—particularly from educators—about how the earliest years of childhood are formative years. It’s a time when the course of your life, your skills and your preferences are being determined. It’s the foundation for the memories and stories that will define you.

I realised this in a very, very small yet tangible way during a recent visit to a local antique shop called Café 10 Port Kembla. Natasha and I had driven past it many times, intending to go inside but unfortunately always in a rush. When we finally entered the place, we were struck by how quirky it was… full of antique items, retro posters, second-hand books and models. Sonny, the owner, made us delicious coffees from behind the counter as he told us about the place. Not long afterwards, his friend Volkan arrived and they ate cabbage together (apologising for the smell, which we actually enjoyed).

At this point, we decided to stroll around the shop to see what was available. I was drawn in by a cool typewriter but managed to resist temptation. Natasha found a small collection of old car manuals, considering purchasing one for her dad, who is a Charger/Mopar enthusiast. They were interesting but not the ones that he sought.

It wasn’t until I circled back to the front of the shop that I noticed something that I had missed at first: a cabinet with old Bburago Ferrari models, naturally, all in red. Although I think that they’re beautiful cars, I’m not the biggest Ferrari fan. Friends and family would tell you that I’m more partial to Teslas or German cars like Audi, Porsche and BMW… but I was very keen on these models, which spanned decades of Ferrari design. I ummed and ahhed, walking backwards and forwards, trying to decide which one I wanted. I had no idea why but I was completely taken by one particular model over the others and I ended up purchasing it. I didn’t even know what it was until I asked for it out of the cabinet and turned it over. Shown below on our bookshelf after purchasing it and taking it home, it ended up being the Ferrari GTO (1962).

After buying it, we thanked Sonny for the coffee and left to go grocery shopping. As we walked to our car, I wondered what it was about the design of this Ferrari that I liked so much compared to the others, especially when I couldn’t even name the model. It was at that point that a thought jumped into my mind: I played with this model as a young kid.

I quickly sent a message to my mum, asking for her to send a photo that she used to have up on the wall when I still lived at home. It took some time for her to search for it but eventually, it came through on my phone.

Sure enough, it was exactly the same model, the GTO (1962), that I had played with as a young child, in a photo that was taken by my godfather, John.

When in any shopping situation, I typically avoid buying things needlessly that will end up as clutter at home. In this case, I was so overcome by materialistic desire that I had to buy this car model. This object that I played with as a child, which probably wasn’t even mine, had planted itself so deeply within my subconscious that when presented with it again in a cabinet, I couldn’t resist.

Memory is a funny thing and we often think about our early years as being difficult to remember. We only recall fragments or think that we can picture things, perhaps because an older relative or friend described something or we saw it in a photograph. Perhaps I was only reminded of this as I got older because it hung up on the wall at one stage… regardless, it shows the impression that all manner of things can have on you as a kid, from the music that your family enjoyed together, to the house that you grew up in, to the objects that filled it. These things stick with you, even if you’re not aware of them.

So, what are the things that you can recall from your early, formative years? In what ways, big or small, have they come to define your taste and who you are today?

2. It’s Complicated

As an avid Apple Watch user since its release in 2015, Martin discusses how the device has changed both his behaviour and the way that he thinks about time. It’s a powerful, personal device that’s supposed to make things easier, yet many wish for custom faces and even more complications… but at what cost? Looking at the Apple Watch through the lens of media ecology—a field that investigates how media, technology and communication affect human environments—it’s time to ruminate on how we can make our digital devices serve us.

Notes

PhD Journal Entry 5: Virtual Coffee with a Media Ecologist

In what seems to be a bit of a habit for me, I’ve changed the title format for entries in this PhD study journal; I did the same thing for my ‘ruminations’ on Lounge Ruminator. After a while, I start to find the titles either boring or non-specific.

After joining the Media Ecology Association (MEA) to support my research, I discovered that you can have a ‘virtual coffee’ with a media ecologist over FaceTime or Skype. This is a new service that the MEA offers, helping students, early-career scholars and even experienced researchers to engage with media ecologists and enhance their understanding of the field.

After a bit of to and fro with emails, I managed to organise a FaceTime call with MEA co-founder Lance Strate, who is an accomplished researcher, author of numerous articles and books and also a former student of Neil Postman. It was a fantastic opportunity to put a face to the name and hear directly from an influential media ecologist. He was extraordinarily helpful in prompting me to think about the history of audio and the devices that we have used to listen to it over time.

As I’m relatively new to the field of media ecology, I have much to consider in how I approach my research about podcasting as not just content, but also as a medium/platform/art form that influences, shapes and determines a very particular style and tone of content. As Postman said in 1998, ‘Technology giveth and technology taketh away’—in other words, there is always a trade-off with every medium or technology. What do podcasts offer that radio, blogging or video-streaming do not? What is it missing that these other media provide?

Making connections with researchers in a field—beyond just reading their content—gives greater context and confidence. Humans are social animals and we thrive on the ability to communicate, after all. In this case, being able to talk and have an auditory experience with a person, rather than just a visual experience with a text, was very beneficial.