Textfiles.com is apparently outdated. I’ll be closing up shop later this week.
Maybe it’s just the rough-hewn do-it-yourselfer in me, but as soon as I find a site is at *.blogspot.com, I’m automatically dropping points off the final score. There’s something about it which says “built with stock parts”, especially when the majority of the stylistic changes are a switch to black-and-white and a massive image at the top of the page. The weblog itself was started this year as a “discovery channel for hacks”, but apparently has fallen into the same trap many such weblogs do: reprinting of stories and youtube videos sandwiched in between radio silence.
Lex Talionis has a number of links from this page to his other projects (and one to textfiles.com itself, which is always appreciated). A quick visit to his Radio Soapbox Podcast page belies his project management style: start a big idea, dribble along for four weeks, and then give up. This works in some contingencies, but probably not archival document acquisition. I’ve gone ahead and archived whatever copies of his show are available, but of course he used a for-free hosting facility (fileden) which has gone ahead and merrily deleted the first few shows of his massive run of seven.
So, here’s the total text of his entry, which I am putting here because I assume he will likely delete the weblog entry from the unwanted attention or run out of bandwidth from the unstoppable kilobytes of transfer I drive his way.
“Textfiles.com has become outdated. Though it still consist of very good compiled files, none of them are updated. I would like for anyone who has information they would like to share with others about any hacks or electrical engineering, DIY projects, any ideas you have written in some .txt file, hidden inside your documents folder just being forgotten about, to share with the world. I would like to recreate what Jason Scott created. He put together the history of hacking and phreaking, and other various forms of literature. But I would like to start the history of all of that. To start a library of compiled files of information, for the future to read and not forget. But hurry, because the future is tomorrow. If you have information you would like to share with others, please send it to newworlduserinfo (at) yahoo (dot) com.”
While it’s perfectly fun to punch this kid in the face a few times, I mostly bring this up because he has a few misunderstandings in there that I occasionally encounter.
When the site was started in 1998, it was primarily “outdated” to begin with; the files in question were my own personal collection, dating from about 1983 through to 1989. A smattering of 1991-3 era files were in there as well, but the 3,000 or so files were, surely, many years in the past by computer standards. Relics, really. Artifacts. You know, not the most up-to-date things in the world. But they were never meant to be; they were meant to be saved, archived copies containing snapshots of a BBS era long past and quickly fading. The light, in fact, has basically gone out on this era, with it being a harder and harder effort to explain what the hell is being talked about.
Somewhere around the 2nd or 3rd year, I had an ill-advised inspiration to create SCENE.TEXTFILES.COM, which would keep track of the absolute newest in textfiles. This way I could archive them, keep track of what was going on out there, and generally serve as a library function for all the “new” stuff.
Unmitigated disaster. Two problems became extant: first of all, I didn’t have the time to endlessly search and browse for “e-zines” all over the internet, and second, I didn’t get along with some of the tykes writing the e-zines. And all it takes, in a concentrated socially inbred subculture, is to not “get along” with a number of members before the drama-resistant strains stop dealing with you and all the little dodgeball-side-picking crap ends in me not getting informed of new things coming out. So, it died a long painful death. It was fun to write the scripts that generated it, though.
That people get useful information out of the site in terms of actual instructional material is tangential to the mission. I mean, sure, it’s great when someone gets some ideas on basic assembler programming or enlightened about networking protocol terms still in use. But conversely, there should be absolutely no surprise to find that a lot of files describing how phone systems “worked” or passing along nuggets of interest about hacking into “unix systems” would have less accuracy than rolling dice. It’s truly the luck of the draw on that level.
Sites like Make Magazine or Sourceforge or dozens of others of that ilk are where you get the up to date information, the immediate tracking down of verifiable facts and dismissal of unverifiable ones. I do my best to keep up with what’s out there, but textfiles.com doesn’t function as a on-the-minute news site, and never has. Trying to shove it into that role fails miserably.
That it is now to the point that it is being browsed by people who have not been alive as long as the site has been around is another recent innovation that I’m not sure I would ever expected, but mostly because I was trying to save files that I was worried were lost forever. And now they are not, and in fact are saved enough that clueless pontificators consider my site an institution, badly in need of revolution, or maybe just a version of the site starring themselves.
Outdated? Maybe. But I prefer “Classic”.
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