“Unlike the printed media, television writes on the wind. There is no accumulated record which the historian can examine later with a 20-20 vision of hindsight, asking these questions: How fair was he tonight? How impartial was he today? How honest was he all along?” – Lyndon Johnson, Remarks in Chicago Before the National Association of Broadcasters April 1, 1968

Television remains the most powerful medium in our culture, but we have almost no memory for it: it is a transient, ephemeral, and therefore unaccountable medium. This site exists to accelerate the transformation of television into a medium that has a history, one that is permanently perserved, searchable, and accessible.

“Why is it that the part of our culture that is recorded in the newspapers remains perpetually accessible, while the part that is recorded on videotape is not? How is it that we have created a world where researchers trying to understand the effect of media on nineteenth-century America will have an easier time than researchers trying to understand the effect of media on twentieth-century America?” – Larry Lessig, Free Culture

The answer is that we do not yet have large scale, easily accessbile television archives. But as is implied in those questions, we need them.

“At present, chance determines what television programs survive. Future scholars will have to reply on incomplete evidence when they assess the achievements and failures of our culture.” – James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress

Advances in computing and communications mean that we can cost-effectively store broadcast, and provide access to a video collections via the Internet to students and adults all over the world. By working with existing institutions and funding sources, and creating new ones, we can provide universal access to this portion of our culture within the current worldwide library budget, just as we have done that with other media.