Videos Don’t Last Forever

We want you to read the entire post, but if you want to cut to the chase immediately, we hope you will support Media Burn with a tax-deductible donation this year. Use our simple online form or mail your check to Media Burn, 4270 W. Irving Park Rd. Chicago IL 60641.

Every day, Media Burn is saving illuminating documentaries that are much more endangered than you may realize. In fact, one of the true innovators in moving image archiving, Jim Lindner, recently said:

“Archivists typically think that there is always tomorrow. Sometimes they are right. Sometimes they are not. Right now in video there are many formats that are critical – meaning that worldwide there are not enough machines or time on the existing supply of consumable parts (like heads) to play back the tapes no matter how much money you are able to spend on it. The window has closed for playback for many tapes in vaults – they will never be played again. There was an industry using thousands of machines, that industry has moved on, those machines are gone, the parts are gone, the bones left only have the parts that don’t break, no one knows how to really properly fix them because some of the knowledge was not documented and eccentric and young people are not trained to repair equipment that has not been made for 50 years… Endgame. It’s over. You won’t play those tapes back – as in ever. … Plan for it to go away – and plan how you can survive the longest. Don’t delay. Find the money and spend the money now while you can. You do not have forever.”

Time magazine created this profile of Lindner, who created the SAMMA robotic systems that the Library of Congress is using to digitize their collection of 700,000 videotapes. It’s a fascinating inside look at what’s really at stake for our cultural heritage on videotape–and why what archives are doing to preserve them is so vitally important and timely.,28804,2091589_2092033_2098414,00.html

For eight years Media Burn has been saving and creating access to meaningful and powerful documentaries that would otherwise be lost forever. We’ve been recognized with grants from distinguished organizations such as the National Archives, the Illinois Arts Council, the Illinois Humanities Council, the City of Chicago, the MacArthur Fund at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and others.

This year, we were truly honored to have received major support from the National Endowment for the Humanities through the federal “Save America’s Treasures” program and a three-year commitment from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.

We know you also recognize that documentary has a unique power to capture our shared cultural experience. Please support Media Burn this year and help us continue our timely and urgent work.

Check out our selection of thank you gifts at our donate page. As always, you can send a check to Media Burn Archive, 4270 W. Irving Park Rd. Chicago IL 60641. All first-time contributors will get a Media Burn multi-color t-shirt!

Best to you and yours this holiday season… and thank you for your continuing support. We couldn’t do it without you.

Tom, Sara, and the Media Burn Board of Directors



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