Frequently Asked Questions

Why an index?

As video streaming has become more common, more and more people have been posting their old videos online. They’re sharing these videos for a number of different reasons: to share memories, to document moments of their past, or as archival documents. They also appear on a variety of different platforms, from Youtube and Vimeo to the Internet Archive. This index, then, aims to make locating these videos a little bit quicker and easier for folks to find what they’re looking for, whether it’s for academic research or personal nostalgia.

What is and isn’t included in the index?

What’s included: Archival footage from roughly the late 1970s up to the early 2000s, including:

  • Advertisements and Commercials
  • Internal and External Corporate Communication, such as promotional videos and internal documentation
  • News Reports on digital communications, produced by local news stations or national news magazines
  • Instructional Videos that explain how to use digital platforms for both general audiences and specific groups
  • Short and long-form documentaries
  • Other miscellaneous videos, such as home movies, that document this period (categorized as Ephemera)

What’s not included:

  • Contemporary documentaries on topics from this period. However, some of these are listed on the “Other Resources” page.

Why focus on video footage?

Unlike other kinds of media (print or video), a digital platform is an interactive experience. In other words, it can be hard to fully understand what it was like without actually using it. Though some of these platforms have been recreated through emulation in projects like RE-AOL and the Prodigy Preservation Project many others simply can’t be easily revived.

Video of individuals using them, then, helps the viewer gain some insight into what it was like to use them, especially if they can’t easily access the necessary equipment.

How to use the index

The index categorizes videos seven ways:

  • Estimated Year Published: When the video was published, based on information the poster shared
  • Video Type: These labels describe why the video was produced. For example, is it a commercial aired on broadcast TV (Advertisement) or was it produced to be shown to shareholders or an event with the press (Corporate Communication)?
  • Organization: What existing organization or network does the video focus on? This could be the company that produced it, like CompuServe or America Online (AOL), or the primary topic of a documentary or news report, such as the BBS network FidoNet.
  • Platform: What primary platform format does the video focus on? In some cases, this might be identical to the Organization, but in other cases, it might be different.
  • Language: The primary language used throughout the video
  • Length: The video’s length, as it fits into one of three groups: Short, Medium, and Long
  • Topics: A list of major topics discussed in the video, like Email, Usenet, Video Games, or MUDs

Each of these categories has an associated colored filtering tool at the top of the index. These filters allow you to sort the sheet in a variety of ways:

  • “Filter by values” lets you select which items in the category you want to see, such as only Advertisements and News Reports.
  • “Filter by condition” lets you use a lot of common numerical and search filtering options, such as “Greater Than,” or “Contains.” If you’re looking for videos on a specific topic, “contains” allows you to search for specific terms

Multiple filters can also be applied at the same time. For example, you can filter by both Year and Organization to see only videos produced by AOL after 1993. Pressing cancel will remove your filter.

Beyond the categories and filters, the sheet also includes a link to the video, any additional notes based on its description, and credit to the submitter (if someone submitted it to the form below). Most videos are indexed individually except for a few exceptions like the show Net Cafe.

How can I suggest videos for inclusion?

Please use the form below to submit videos to add to the index!