For example, I go to the example of Rodriguez, the ’60s-era Detroit folk singer who was quickly forgotten about in the United States, only to build a massive following in South Africa and (to a lesser extent) Australia. By American standards, he was obscure. By South African standards, he was big enough to sell out arenas. (Then Searching for Sugar Man
came out, won an Oscar, and he finally got his flowers in the U.S. and now regularly goes on tour. Not a bad story.)
In many ways, file formats and technical standards also face this tension. It’s standards all the way down—and those standards may matter to a small portion of the population for a technical use case, but not necessarily for the vast population of computer users. When I decided to write my list, my parameters were, “What was something that a regular computer user might be familiar with but they haven’t used in 20 years, that didn’t become as dominant as JPG or PNG?”
And I get it; TIFF probably matters to a bunch of technical workflows, and it may be the basis of later generations of standards. And you might be able to open up a file in PCX format in Photoshop in 2021! But the vast majority of people don’t do these things. This is not to say that nobody ever opens up PC Paintbrush, but that you have to be in the know to know about these formats, whereas if you were a computer user 20 or 30 years ago, you didn’t.