There’s an article in the Autumn edition of 2600 called “Where have all the Philes Gone?” It’s horrible. I’m sorry I only became aware of it recently; I don’t read 2600 much anymore. I don’t understand why 2600 doesn’t have a PDF version of itself available for a subscription fee or otherwise downloadable. I wish they’d spend a week or two over at the Escapist Magazine for information on how people put together a magazine (with text-only version, web version, pdf versions!) in the modern era. As a result, I didn’t know about this article until over half a year later.
Again, the title is “Where Have All the Philes Gone” and discusses BBS textfiles, their place in history, and thoughts about what the present holds in contrast to the peak of the textfiles. It gets everything nearly completely wrong. It was written by “Glutton”, in case the search engines needed a way to match “glutton” with “gets everything nearly completely wrong”.
Riddled with mistakes and worthless speculations, I defy the core thesis of the article: that BBS-era textfiles are no-longer available in any number or being written in a useful fashion, and this supposed state of affairs is a result of newly heightened fear of accurate information being printed for fear of lawsuits, arrest or, I assume, taxidermy.
For one thing, he makes it sound like BBS textfiles are scattered to the four winds, barely able to be found if you use “filesharing sites” and “search engines”. Well, I know where a few are lying about, so that’s pretty silly in itself.
The article constructs a pretty cramped and inaccurate presentation of the last 20 years, painting a false paradigm about information along the lines of “everything was open and new users were treated with respect, now the government and law enforcement have killed free speech and expression and new users are mistreated”. It’s a pat construction, very easy to swallow, almost sounds informed and wide-thinking.
But it’s not; it’s the kind of stuff you write because you need to fill a couple columns of space and you sort of remember you had a good time on BBSes and so let’s talk about how current forums seem to suck.
Current forums don’t suck. They’re capable of a lot, and when they fail or don’t do things well it’s instantaneously knowable, as opposed to BBSes of yore where if something sucked you had to wait months to really be sure it sucked. Things move faster now. They grow faster and they die faster.
But through it, we have so many more avenues of accessible information. Textfiles are still being written. Some are in PDF form, some are in HTML. It’s not as portable as text, but it’s still pretty damned portable, considering. The fact is, there were a very small amount of bulletin boards compared to websites, they often allowed a single user at a time (meaning maybe 100-200 people total for usage) and the quality was about the same, just in a smaller area. Nowadays, you can have response to a written file within minutes of posting it, not days and days. Things are different now, and better now. Even cursory study of the exhibits reveals this.
But apparently doing more than writing a couple column inches that say nothing, and say it inaccurately, counts as useful information in 2600 these days. I’m sorry to hear that. Here’s the article, all nice and poorly scanned like it deserves to be.
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