Digital Components

The complex nature of digital artworks means that the risks posed by equipment are varied and many. These risks can be placed in two broad categories: failure-the inability of a component to continue working-and obsolescence-components that are either no longer available or no longer compatible with current or later software, operating systems, etc. These risks affect the different components of computer-based art in different ways.


Over the past century, numerous motion picture formats have come into use, many of which quickly became obsolete. Analog videotape works have also been created using dozens of now-obsolete formats. Yet these problems pale in comparison to the dizzying array of platforms, software, file formats, and storage media used in the creation of computer-based art. Each component of a digital artwork faces serious risks from obsolescence-risks that can threaten the work almost as soon as it is created.

Storage Media

Obsolescence of storage media is a particular problem for magnetic media. In addition to facing risks from physical degradation, early storage devices such as floppy disks, Bernoulli disks, etc., can become problematic when the necessary drives become rare and difficult to access. Another problem is that the software necessary to operate these drives is often incompatible with later operating systems.