At some point in the future, the sentient beings running the planet may want to study how the humans dealt with the technological revolution of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
After they have ingested the pertinent scholarly essays and news reports, they will have a pretty good idea of how we managed the shift to a world increasingly driven by machines. And that might be enough.
But why stop at enough when they might deepen their understanding by looking into something that might seem irrelevant at first glance: the films of Sandra Bullock, one of the biggest stars of the transitional period.
Ms. Bullock had the good or bad fortune to have been born in 1964, meaning she was young enough to adapt to tech culture when it came along but old enough to mourn the passing of the environment that had shaped her.
Her movies are time capsules that preserve the look and feel of discrete moments in tech, some of them all but forgotten. When you find yourself watching the 2002 romantic comedy “Two Weeks Notice” on this or that streaming platform, you can’t help but fixate on the clamshell phone that Hugh Grant uses to call Ms. Bullock from a bar at 2:15 a.m.
Or maybe you’re caught up in “The Proposal,” a 2009 comedy in which she plays a New York publishing boss, and you’re momentarily thrown from the story when our heroine, far from home and without a laptop, steps into an internet cafe to send an email. You pause to consider the fate of those little establishments, which once seemed to be everywhere and are now … gone?