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Tag: Colgate University

Why You Shouldn’t Throw Away Your Old College Video Projects

I’ve been trying to answer this question for decades. I think I may have finally figured out the answer…

Colgate University just held its bicentennial reunion on campus. My wife and I are both proud graduates (yes, we’re a Colgate couple), and we happily attended the celebration.

Looking back, I think the most influential piece of my college experience was my involvement in the student-run TV station, CUTV. My life-long passion for video storytelling as a profession fully developed during my college years as CUTV’s first station manager.

As you can imagine, after I graduated from Colgate, I took with me more than just a diploma… I schlepped home videotapes containing a library of content documenting years of student life, events and issues at Colgate.

Future Proofing
This was still a pre-digital time, and when tapes were finally superseded by DVD technology, I digitized much of my content. I repeated the same exercise years later and moved my media to .MOV files on hard drives.

The big question is why…

What ongoing value was there to carry these old clips forward and protect them against the ravages of time for more than three decades?

The Need to Document a Story
I’ve tried to seriously answer that question only three times. And I must admit, I’ve only spent about a week or two during each of these explorations…

And during each exercise, I cleared my head from the competing noise (and music) from my life and tried to take a serious look at this content with the goal of editing together a worthwhile visual story from those years… and then presenting it to a population of Colgate alumni at an upcoming reunion.
(Yes, it always took a nearing reunion to finally jolt this project into high gear.)

1995
My first attempt was back in 1995, when I edited together video highlights for my class’s 10th reunion dinner. As everyone in the room recognized all of the faces in my video, it was easy to see that the footage still had some worth, much like an old family photo.

But was that it? Is the archival value of this footage limited to the Colgate alumni of my generation?

I didn’t try to answer that question again until fifteen years later…

2010
I presented a new video at Colgate’s 2010 Reunion during a CUTV panel presentation representing the previous 25 years. Several generations showed off their own content, and my video documented the the origins of CUTV. This was essentially my story…

And to be honest, I wasn’t really sure how interesting that would be for a general population of alumni not connected to my generation.

Ultimately, it felt like my CUTV origins video served its purpose for the audience in that moment. But the larger questions still remained…

Fast forward nine more years…

2019
It’s now Colgate’s Bicentennial, and as my wife and I were going to be in attendance, I decided to take another look at my old footage. Now that the decades were piling up, I would try to view the content through a different lens. Could I actually find and extract content that would have some true historical value to a general alumni population?

I found my answer, and it was hard to face…

Because as much as I wanted the answer to be yes… the truth was most of my old footage displayed students doing and talking about things that any generation of students might address. You could just change the faces, and bingo… you’d be watching almost the exact same thing.

But I did come across a consolation prize of sorts… I decided this old footage actually serves more as a cultural look back in time as opposed to carrying the weight of historic significance…

Plus, there were indeed a few moments worthy of archival preservation. Most notably the 1985 student protests and sit-in against Apartheid. And a 1982 lecture by political and social activist Abbie Hoffman.

The rest was simply background… a digital memory of sorts.

So, fully acknowledging the limitations of the content, I edited together attempt #3, and I presented my little opus to a small but interested group of alums.

And the impact…?

Capturing the Voice of a Generation
It seemed that everyone had some level of interest in watching these Colgate moments from another century… much like I might enjoy watching old Colgate films from the 40’s and 50’s.
(maybe)

But people laughed when they were supposed to, and audibly responded to other moments as well.
(There was no booing.)

Beyond that, my series of old video clips prompted a unexpected conversation about the challenge of maintaining a student-run media production operation across the years as a socially and culturally-accepted content generator.

We talked about the reality of a community accommodating and absorbing the ‘voice’ of a student run TV station. It was not unlike experiencing social media for the first time in a pre-digital era….before social media ever existed.
(I think this is a conversation that warrants more analysis at another time…)

The Value of a Common Experience
So after three attempts over the past 24 years, I feel I’ve collected enough qualitative data (not really) to suggest this old student-produced content from the ‘80s can successfully tap into the common experience of anyone who’s been a part of the Colgate community.

There is a collective understanding… and inherent familiarity with it.

So perhaps there is some enduring value for this video footage after all.

I see you’ve read this far… so I’m guessing you must be connected to Colgate. Interested in seeing the first segment from this new edit? Here you go…

Thoughts?

The Beginning of a Digital Memory?
Perhaps, all of this can contribute to some yet-to-be created larger digital memory representing Colgate’s history (and culture) throughout the 21st century.

For now, I’ll simply say that beyond simply showing up to Colgate’s big reunion event, this is my contribution to the bicentennial celebration.

That’s where I’m at with the past and the present.

We’ll see what the future brings…

Use Old Tech to Find Lost Memories

Much like many of your memories, old tech may be discarded, but not actually forgotten. Did you realize that yesterday’s tech can sometimes evolve into a time machine to help you rediscover joy from your past? Here’s how…

Much like many of your memories, old tech may be discarded, but not actually forgotten. Did you realize that yesterday’s tech can sometimes evolve into a time machine to help you rediscover joy from your past? Here’s how…

Do you recall the adrenaline rush you get when you open a box for the first time containing that new piece of must-have tech? It’s like pure joy. But then, it often dissipates as your brain looks for the next must-have tech bling.

That’s a problem on a variety of levels, but I’ve chosen not going to confront any of those concerns in this moment.
Instead, I’m going to focus on the fleeting goodness…

My good news is I’ve discovered that emotional memories of ‘new tech joy’ doesn’t have to entirely disappear!

If you are of a certain age, I invite you to a take a trip back in time with me…

Find a Time Machine
My family and I recently visited a series of artist open houses in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where artists opened up their studios to the public.
(I had no idea that Bridgeport had such a thriving artists community.)

And hidden in the middle of all of the amazing studios was a magical room filled with video arcade games from the 1980’s.
(To be clear, this wasn’t an art space… it was a company that rents these old relics for parties.)

But to me, it was something else.
It was an actual time machine!

I stepped in, took a few more steps… and was suddenly transported back to my college days at Colgate University, when I would hang out in the basement of K.E.D. in the common space and play video games for a quarter a play.
(Or was it fifty cents?)

Specifically… I played ‘Galaga’ and ‘Atari Star Wars.’

Remember Your New Tech Joy Using Forgotten Old Tech
As I walked deeper into the dark room, I spotted those same games! I walked up.
And then something happened…

I realized you could actually play them… right there!
(For free, no less)

What?

galaga

 

 

 

 

 

 

I pressed the start button on Galaga.

Holy cow.
The little laser blasts.
The sounds.
The feel of it all…

atari-star-wars

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then I walked up to a Galaxy Far, Far Away and launched my X-Wing to destroy the Death Star.
(It took me three passes, but I eventually got it done!)

All of those past quarters spent. All of those forgotten skills…

The Past is the Present
I never thought I would ever play these arcade games again.

And yet here they were.
It was if I was in a temporal nexus.

The memories all rushed back.
I felt it.
All of it.

Whoah.

This dark, seemingly endless room must have been crammed with fifteen other favorites.

pac-man-arcade

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all had our go-to game, right?

Pass the Baton
What a treat.
And an amazing demonstration of both the emotional and experiential memories your brain holds onto.

But my rewarding trip down tech memory lane inevitably had to end, right?
Well, not necessarily…

There was someone else in there with me.
Somebody who had never played a video arcade game from the ‘80’s.

I then watched my six year old play Pac-Man for the very first time.

21st-century-six-year-old-meets-pac-man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I felt the universe re-centering itself.

(If only for a moment)
And then it was time to say goodbye to this Guardian of Forever…

Keep the Memories Alive
It’s funny how you can run into your past in the most unlikely of places and reactivate your tech joy from long ago.
(And a testimonial for the ongoing value of old tech)

Plus, if you really pay attention, I think you could easily walk by someone else’s past magic tech joy and experience a bit of their own euphoria.

century-studio-camera

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wooden Century studio camera, anyone?
Perhaps… a camera obscura?
No?

All right. Maybe I’ve gone back a little too far…

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