I was going through my archives the other day, sifting out stuff that I didn’t need to hold onto any more, and found some pretty amazing content collecting dust. I have hours and hours of video, text, and all kinds of media, some of which has never seen the light of day but is incredibly valuable. Other stuff used to be posted online, but has since vanished due to changes, time, even companies going out of business.

Here’s a really simple exercise for you to try: wherever you keep your archives and backups (you do keep backups, right?), go sifting through them for 15 minutes at some point today and see if there’s something in there that is worth bringing back to the light.

Why? Your network, your audience is ever-changing, ever-shifting, and hopefully ever-growing. There are people you are friends with today that had never heard of you a week, a month, a year ago. While your old stuff may be dusty to you, it may be brand new to them – and more valuable than it ever was. Rather than discard old stuff simply because it’s old, take a look at your old stuff and see if it’s worth rseurrecting.

Here’s an added twist: with what you know now, see if your old content improves. Do you have access to better tools, better knowledge, better processes? Here’s a photo I shot way, way back in 2001, which is practically the stone age in digital terms.

Autumn in Waltham Center

What’s different is that today, I have access to tools like Aperture and Adobe Photoshop. When this photo was taken, I would have been using Adobe Photoshop 6.0. Today’s version, CS5, is technically version 12.0 of that same software, and the tools have just gotten better. I used Aperture’s basic auto-enhance tools on this photo and it looks better than it ever did back then.

Here’s a video clip of world-renowned master martial arts teacher Stephen K. Hayes from 2007.

What’s changed? iMovie 9 has motion stabilization and audio normalization, so what would have taken me a ridiculous number of steps back then to edit took relatively few today. You get to enjoy the content – which is still as valuable as ever – but re-creating the content is much less painful.

Back when I did a daily podcast, years ago now, I would go to concerts and with the artist’s permission, record stuff live. All those old recordings are still sitting around in raw form, collecting dust in the archives. When I dug back into them to resurrect something, I found that they definitely needed editing – but my editing skills have changed and improved vastly in the 4 years it’s been since I made the recording. Here’s an example, Rebecca Loebe’s song Grace recorded at a bar in Cambridge, MA about 3 1/2 years ago (MP3). Sounds better than ever with better audio editing knowledge.

So what are you sitting on? What stuff seems old and stale to you but your newest friends might really, really enjoy? It’s a summer Friday – go take a few minutes and bring something back from the past. If it’s still high quality, all of us will appreciate enjoying it again, whether we’ve seen it or not.


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