ASCII by Jason Scott

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The Undone CONPHOTOS —

Entry written on August 8th.

Some time ago, I started a project to capture all the photographs taken at hacker conventions/conferences, with “hacker cons” being defined as “things I would attend and not feel out of place at”. There were disparate places where people had collections of stuff up, photos they’d taken, but they were all over the place and the history was in danger of being lost and the rest.

It’s been a big failure. There’s a website up at and, but you’ll see it’s kind of half-assed, an example of a work-in-progress with little obvious work done (even though a lot was done). This directory is clickable, and a few others are as well.

I was working on a system to tag photos with the names of who was there, ways for people to add comments, ideas for nomenclature. You know, basically flickr except when I started this project there wasn’t really a flickr to talk about.

What there was and what I was trying to emulate was Slengpung, the demoscene party photo collection. It has everything I’d wanted, from being able to search by party, attendee, and year, all the way through to commentary and a strong sense of style. It’s really done very well, and I couldn’t even hope to get there.

Along the continuum of my projects, CONPHOTOS is like that part of the attic behind a bunch of boxes that you never, ever quite get to, even if you’re in a cleaning mood. I see how much advancement has been made in the world of photo albums online, and I sense nothing but a pile of reinvented wheels, each more crappy and non-round than the previous, while entire teams of people are working on similar sites.

Another problem is that this thing was really for my buddies; photos of my buddies, photos of conventions I liked, photos of places that I considered worth having photos of. While that sometimes works, the fact is that the way to do a site like this is for all conventions, be they anime, sci-fi, marketing, boats, medical supplies, and so on. And then it’s basically a busines. And then I’m basically in hell.

Also, I find people are really nutty about photos. Mirror them locally and they go nuts, bitter about ownership and stolen souls and what have you. It’s really more trouble than it’s worth. And on top of everything else, people take a lot of shitty photos.

The project has been on hold for years, probably one of my biggest regrets, and one that reminds me of making sure you have even the slightest idea where you want to “go” with something.

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One Comment

  1. LateBlt says:

    It’s funny, because I tend to have the exact opposite view on things. You started a project and regret that you didn’t turn it into everything you thought it should be; even if that’s the case, though, it was still an exercise which, even if it didn’t blossom into everything it could have been, was better than nothing.

    There’s nothing “wrong” with your approach of wanting to have some clear goal and direction with something before you start it, but some of the greatest things in the world started from someone having no idea what they were doing but going ahead with it anyway. has fragmented into several other small side projects, and some of those projects are in a rather unfinished state and will probably remain so for the forseeable future, but why shouldn’t it be better to toss out a huge bunch of half-assed stuff than to just bury it? The good, solid ideas can mature into more complete offerings, and the other stuff can stand as it is for anyone who’s curious.