on the temporality of obsolescence: forgotten computers reanimate when industry abandons a physical connector or physical media, when file formats drift, when operating systems or system architectures render software inoperable.
we experienced this recently while attempting to retrieve video footage from a MiniDV tape. we have the same DV camera which works fine, but it uses firewire, a port standard which quietly went away over the decades. i assumed there'd be a cheap firewire to usb C or whatever dongle but for some reason it's either more complicated than that or search engines have gotten so terrible that i am no longer adept at using the internet.
as a result, the computer from the same era as the camera (almost two decades old) became suddenly invaluable: it was the only way for us to retrieve the footage. of course, this old computer can longer meaningfully connect to the internet (due to apple abandoning the OS amidst ever-accelerating web standards) so we transfer files the old fashioned way with thumb drives.
surely this happens constantly with all sorts of physical media, but also file formats. i can't imagine going through the complexity of assembling a virtual machine emulating my early 2000's music studio setup and expect abandoned DAW sessions to function.
the celebration of each innovation obfuscates the coincident impediment to preserving what came before. it's only after some time has elapsed that we suddenly realize that our previous tools and collections of work are no longer accessible: we'd already moved on to shinier tools and continued to generate more work, both of which will surely meet the same fate as those who came before.
these machines that we stopped using, kept for perhaps sentimental reasons or simply because our barn accepts everyone and all, these machines are alive again as portals to past work. these are not new ideas, but my curiosity lies in the timeframes: identifying the vanishing and reemergence of relevance.