About the Manual

The Nerd Manual is meant to be both a useful resource for nerds and a guide for the people involved with nerds. If you're a nerd you can find information here that will help you improve your life and perhaps better understand yourself. If you're close friends with, dating, or married to a nerd, I want to give you insight into things nerds do that a lot of people have difficulty understanding.


I hope to avoid offending anyone--either nerd or non-nerd--but please understand that the manual will get into some sensitive topics, stray into contentious territories, and even use stereotypes to illustrate points. It's OK to disagree with something, but keep your comments civil.

2017-07-22

Real-Life Nerds: Saving Video One VHS at a Time

Everything currently stored on magnetic media is slowly corroding away like old cars in a junkyard. Magnetic tapes, such as audio cassettes and VHS tapes (including those purportedly multi-thousand dollar Disney black diamond VHS cassettes) store information on plastic tape embedded with metal oxides. As time passes these tapes lose their magnetic fields, and the information can't be read anymore. Experts give tape data 15 to 20 years before it's unsalvageable.

Fortunately, the preservationists at XFR Collective are working to transfer information from magnetic tape to digital formats.

XFR Collective is a non-profit, all volunteer group who focus particularly on rescuing tapes containing material from underrepresented communities like people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ communities, and activists. Everything they digitize goes to their Internet Archive page where the material is publicly available. They also lend equipment to community organizations (such as a local folklore/storytelling project called Los Herederos) to help them with in-house digitization projects.

They have also partnered with the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) to design and build an AV transfer station for METRO’s 599 Studio space in an effort to support digitization services for the community. The new transfer station has to include a variety of equipment to work with everything from professional 1-inch tape to the 1/2-inch open reel tape commonly used by activists and community artists in the 1960s and 1970s.

The fact that analogue video decks are no longer manufactured was a hurdle the XFR Collective leapt by scouring the listserv of the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) for used equipment, including a CRT monitor, an S-VHS/miniDV deck, and a 1/4 inch reel to reel audio player. The group also tapped into the e-waste recycling store at the Lower East Side Ecology Center, where they discovered a corner of the warehouse devoted to functional analog A/V equipment.

The videos that XFR Collective digitizes range from personal family tapes, to recordings from public access TV, to videos of police brutality, and they have transferred over 67 hours of video.

XFR Collective still needs equipment, so if you'd like to donate a deck or scope you can contact them through their Facebook profile

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