ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Transparent Paper: PAPER.TEXTFILES.COM —

For fun, let’s include everyone in on a little project of mine. Unlike Archive Team, I’m not actively seeking help on it for the moment, just doing some initial work and including you in on it.

As part of my mission/life/hobby, I find myself often being sent collections of magazines, catalogs, and other paper that folks want to get rid of but know has some historical value and are not into just throwing it out. I’ve now had several cases of someone announcing in a location that they want to get rid of said paper and others specifically suggesting the person send it to me. That’s a nice feeling.

A few dozen Commodore magazines recently showed up, and a few dozen Mac/Apple II magazines showed up a month or two ago. I bag them, bin them in transparent bins, and store them. When I am doing research or otherwise trying to find something, I pull out the bin and either scan the material or just take notes. A lot of my work these days involves just using my own personal massive library of computer history to track down facts or citations. This is awesome if you’re Jason Scott and you live in my house, but not so awesome if you’re out there, somewhere, wishing you had a copy of an old Epyx ad or wanting a solid picture of a Wico Joystick scanned at 800dpi.

My collection is in the hundreds of magazines and catalogs now. I have stuff from the 1950s, up through last week. I sometimes surprise myself with what I have, like when I found I apparently own a massive run of very old Popular Electronics magazines. Not sure how that happened, to be honest. But I have them. Nice little guys, they are.

I’m nothing if not infected with this weird generous streak that seems at odds with the general impression of my abrasive, in-your-face personality (at least in some quarters), so I feel like it’s a really bad situation that I have this decades-in-making library here in my home and someone out there, somewhere, is desperately in need of information or a scan of an image that I have sitting in a bin in my archives.

Is this not the sadness of all librarians? All the true ones, anyway.

So I have begun a rudimentary cataloging of my collection. And the catalog will go here:

http://paper.textfiles.com

It looks pretty simple. That’s right. It looks kind of unhelpful. Bet it does. Right now it’s of no use to anyone, possibly even to the creator. That is very likely the case.

Over time, when I have the slack to do so, I will be improving this site, adding to the list (as of this writing, this is just what I had in my latest shipment and some stuff sitting in my bedroom) and generally making it of actual, good use. I am well aware it has flaws even now, that I will need more information about the images, and that I should do more to make it easier to pull down the information. No doubt. 

But what I am doing here is being transparent, showing people how I organically grow a small idea into a project, then into a site, and then into a helpful site.

Check back in a few weeks, a month, a year. I’ll eventually link it from the main site. But enjoy the show.


Categorised as: computer history | housecleaning | jason his own self

Comments are disabled on this post


11 Comments

  1. Ryan Russell says:

    Interesting. Of course, this further begs…

    Picking on “Run Magazine” at random:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RUN_(magazine)
    We can now determine which ones you are missing, making it easier to dump these on you.

    This project begs to be a Wiki for people to fill in the lists and entire missing magazines for you. And companies, games, books, ads…

  2. Jason Scott says:

    It doesn’t beg that at all, because this isn’t a list of stuff that is out there; this is stuff that I actually have in my house. If people want something, they’ll mail me. And over time, as things come in, I’ll integrate these items.

    In some cases, I have complete digitized sets of the entire run of magazines, and while that’s nice and may be referenced here, that’s also not the point.

  3. Flack says:

    I think Ryan may have been thinking what I was thinking. If that page is kept up to date, it serves two purposes: “What Jason Scott has,” and more importantly, “What Jason Scott DOESN’T have.” Multiple times I’ve run across things that I’ve thought about sending your way and then put it off because “he probably already has that.” Now I have a list of what magazines you own physical copies of. I feel sorry for your postman already.

  4. Ryan Russell says:

    No… You have now volunteered to be responsible for having a copy of every computer magazine, ever. I’m just suggesting a small improvement to the way we dump these on you.

  5. jas says:

    hey, can you scan and post those boardwatch mags?

    • Jason Scott says:

      Not anytime soon – no time. If there’s something specific you need, let me know.

  6. Palad says:

    If it came down to it, would you rather have people send you scans or hard copies of their old materials?

  7. Liz Dunn says:

    I am a magazine hoarder; I would love to be part of your paper archive team. For the record.

    • Jason Scott says:

      To answer both of you: I prefer the original paper if you want to mail stuff to me (Jason Scott, 738 Main Street #383, Waltham, MA 02451), but I like having scans of material just for the record. If you want to send me stuff, just send it – duplicates are fine, since some magazines have gone through life happier than others.

    • Jason Scott says:

      Actually, let me go further. If you’re a hoarder who does not want to give away or donate or mail me your magazines you never threw out, then my suggestion is: go to a local comic book shop, buy a bunch of backs and backings, bag and back your collected magazines, and put them into storage bins. Then you’re able to refer to them as a set instead of a pile. If you do decide to throw them out or donate them, it’s that much easier. You also might consider making a list, like I do, for use later.

  8. [...] lower priorities of my projects. Between the documentary editing, the sorting and cleaning up of my archives, my massive backup crusade, and a huge realm of other time-takers, I just don’t make this [...]