Online video in the pre-YouTube era tended to be low-res, anonymous, and utterly without provenance. You didn’t know who made the video, who was in the video, or where the damn thing came from. Well, thanks to this rollicking piece of forensics, now you do — at least for one seminal clip in which an unsuspecting kid gets absolutely nailed by an errant fullcourt basketball shot.
A seemingly infinite array of no-context funny videos—scraped from archival footage, newscasts, and increasingly, other users—gets recycled online every day for the sake of likes and shares and attention. “Basketball (so funny you’ll pee your pants).avi” could well be the very first one, a watershed moment in the history of the internet.
The lack of additional information elevates the viewing experience. But every so often, if you dig into a piece of internet ephemera, the context—the who, what, when, where, and why—have the potential to dramatically enhance your understanding of the freak accident that you just witnessed.