What does it really mean?
Well, originally it's use was to denote the process by which a running computer system is restarted, either intentionally or unintentionally.
Believe it, or not, it comes from a military phrase. To "re-boot" meant to change, or replace footwear before beginning a new operation.
Why would one perform this particular action? Under what circumstances does one need to reboot, or re-boot?
Well, in the military I can only assume you changed your footwear because there is quite a lot of travel, much of it walking, and boots get worn out fairly regularly. You wouldn't want to undertake a new mission with footwear that would hurt your feet, or give out and fail to provide you adequate protection.
The term is most familiar in use from it's computing origins however. Why would you need to reboot a computer?
According to the Reboot (Computing) entry on Wikipedia, there are a number of causes including [but not limited to]:
Manual, hardware-based: A power switch or reset button can cause the system to reboot. Doing so, however, may cause the loss of all unsaved data.
Manual, software-based: Computer software and operating system can trigger a reboot as well; more specifically, Microsoft Windows operating systems are outfitted with a restart command that closes open programs and eliminate data loss due to reboot.
Power Failure: Unexpected loss of power for any reason (including power outage, power supply failure or depletion of battery on a mobile device) forces the system user to perform a cold boot once the power is restored.
So basically, you reboot if something goes wrong. Furthermore, it's often either a last ditch effort sort of situation, or is done to protect the good parts of the system before they can be corrupted. It is a good bet however that unsaved, and unprotected data can be lost in the endeavor.
Why then do we reboot franchises, settings, and stories that for the most part aren't broken?
These thought occurred to me when I read the news that YouTube is reporting the trailer for the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot, "The Most Disliked Trailer in YouTube History".
I don't want to discuss that particular film, or trailer specifically, and why people may, or may not like it. Rather, I want to look at our definition for reboot, and ask ourselves, "Was the original Ghostbusters universe damaged, broken, malfunctioning, and/or had it completely lost power?"
Let's see...IDW has been making Ghostbusters comic books since September of 2011. There have been numerous video, and computer games with the latest ones having come out in 2009, 2011, a Virtual Realty game at Pax East in 2012, a mobile app game in 2013, and a video pinball game in 2014. There continue to be action figures, collectibles, t-shirts, cosplayers, fan films, and even a LEGO playset. There are at least two novels coming out that I know of, a version of the in-universe book Tobin's Spirit Guide (referenced in the first film), and I know I personally purchased the Insight Editions book 'The Ultimate Visual History'.
Now what do all of these items have in common? They are all based on the original film franchise, and it's expanded universe.
I am sure the new film will have a slew of products, but that's not what I'm addressing here. I am simply pointing out that the original version still sells. It is the love for the original that makes us want to see more of those characters, and that world. So why reboot?
If it ain't broke, for the love of Nimoy, DON'T TRY TO FIX IT!
DC Comics, Star Trek, Ghostbusters, and so many other IPs are not in need of repair. They are in need of expansion. They need love. You want to reboot something? Reboot something that sucks.
On that note...
It occurred to me that there is a certain RPG from gaming's heyday that is notably viewed with mockery, and disdain. A game considered, not good-bad, but just bad-bad. At the same time, I find it to be a game with a promising core premise. A game whose idea is good, and whose execution is terrible.
So don't reboot good stuff you shlubs, reboot this...
Because if you don't...I will.