Kenneth Friedman
July 18, 2017

Months ago, while watching Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent, I spotted something interesting: a brief flash of a young Noam Chomsky speaking on the steps of the MIT Student Center. It was just B-roll footage for the documentary, but I figured there must be a longer version. Today, finally, I have the whole version, along with a great video of MIT.

Since there are thousands of videos of Noam Chomsky online, I thought finding this clip would be easy. I scoured all of the usual sites (YouTube, Google, Internet Archives, etc). But without a date or a title, the transcript of the 3 seconds of audio was all I could search with.

Finally, I posted on a subreddit asking around for any more information. A friendly responder suggested I look at Manufacturing Consent Companion Book. And luckily, Google Books had a PDF version of it. Right at the bottom of page 34, the reference appeared. Title acquired. Year acquired.

A quick Google search of the title of the original, MIT: Progressions, comically returned a single result. The sole mention of MIT: Progressions is from the MIT Museum's 2012 annual report. In it, the report states that the video has been digitized.

Good news: the MIT Museum had a digital copy, and the video contained more than just Chomsky leading a protest: it contained an entire recruitment video for MIT in 1969.

After many back and forth emails with someone at the MIT Museum, they informed me that they couldn't find the video. And after a few more emails, with other members of the MIT Museum, they discovered a misspelling ("Misnaming"?) in their internal file system. Their internal files called the video MIT: Expressions (instead of Progressions).

So finally, yesterday, the MIT Museum sent me a 200GB Dropbox file: the fully uncompressed, digitized version of the movie. With not enough room on my computer for the video, I downloaded it to an Amazon Web Services server. From there, I lowered the bit-rate to get the file below YouTube's 128GB max file size.

So finally, after months of searching, emailing, an SSHing around various web servers, I got it up on YouTube. Here it is below. From my understand, and searching, it's the only version on the internet.

The video without the back-story is available here: MIT Progressions Video Only

Update: Chris Peterson blogged about this on the MIT Admissions Blog.