Peek In on Our Strange, Wonderful World With a New Archival Video App

The Linger app brings you to a special corner of the Internet.
More

linger.jpg

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Rick and Megan Prelinger, the curators of the Prelinger Archives and Prelinger Library, are a national treasure. Following their own interests and supported by their talent and insatiable curiosity, they've assembled and digitized a vast collection of ephemeral films from the 20th century. And they've put them online for all of us to enjoy (with Creative Commons licensing, no less).

And now, thanks to developer Chuck Shnider, there's a way to easily access 1,800 films from the collection on your iOS device through a new app called Linger. This is wonderful! 

You can browse the collection by subject, sponsor, producer, title, or date, but the best way into this collection is to pick something at random. And for that, there's the "Surprise Me!" button. Unlike most "I'm feeling lucky" buttons, this one actually yields things worth watching.

privatekat.jpg

In my first three spins, I got "Vision in the Forest," a cringeworthy short film starring country singer Vaughn Monroe sponsored by the National Forest Service. Then, I drew "To Market, To Market," about the birth of outdoor advertising in Chicago (along with a heavy dose of Cold War-era American capitalism promotion). And finally, my good fortune brought me a masterpiece, The Private Life of a Cata film Alexander Hammid made with his wife, Maya Deren. The film is intimate and lovely, with cat point-of-view shots and more depth and drama than seems possible. This is not a joke, and these filmmakers were not jokers. This was their second collaboration. Their first was the experimental filmmaking milestone, Meshes in the Afternoon.

That's the kind of range you find in the Prelinger collection and (therefore) the Linger app. This is a special corner of the Internet: a series of unintentional selfies of times and places that no longer exist.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In