ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

The Darkness at the End of the Tunnel —

Hello Jason,

I read your blog now since a long time and you've also open for me a
new (old) world again and I love your project, which is a kind of your
personal life-work (and also for us too).

But for me - and maybe for other readers of your blog - is the
interesting and fascinating question... was there ever a moment or
time, where you have enough of it? Can't see and don't want to work
longer with thousands of files? Do you ever had think about, to throw
everything away? Thought, that it doesn't make any sense? Do make a
complete other thing in life, to stop everything? Or is this, what you
make, do and work on a kind of never ending story, where you really
never get tired of it?

Because I've worked more then ~15 years with computers - and last year
there was a kind of break down inside me. Can't see computer-work
suddenly, quit also my job, start a new life with a new job - without
computers - and use them now & today just for fun, to read and to blog
and free stuff. I'm impressed, that it doesn't look like, that you
ever have enough of it...? That's cool!

Sorry for my bad english!
Cheers from Europe!

Thanks, Emanuel. Glad to hear you’re getting something out of the various projects I have up, which still surprises me sometimes due to the amount of years they’ve been around – I’ve had people write me about websites I’ve had up for all their lives, which is sobering, but also rather enlightening because they’re coming to the sites without context, that is, they just are.

I’m going to draw a difference between Productivity and Longevity.

Productivity is just the amount of stuff you get done in any given period of time, and is different for everyone. With the use of scripts, pre-existing information and materials, as well as a dedication to getting every last bit of data mopped up and into somewhere, I can seem rather productive indeed, although it’s on the shoulders of giants and I don’t lay claim that everything that is related to me was 100% done by me. So I’m productive by some standards, and an embarrassing sloth by others – and that’s quite all right. I’m happy with the general result of my efforts.

Longevity, separate from your productivity, is staying at the same task or class of tasks over time – and for that, I’ve got that going as well. 13 years on TEXTFILES.COM, been using computers for 32 years, pissing people off since 1977… definitely keeping on track.

I don’t think there’s much secrecy in how I keep going, and no, I don’t really burn out except for the occasional, rare day when I’m just sick of everything and then a nice solid nap will do the job.

For one thing, all my projects tend to be display or sharing-oriented – when I finish something, I turn immediately to distributing it, and ensuring it can be easily accessed is one of the top priorities baked into the process. If I find a trove of old data, my first thought is getting it up, online, out somewhere – so I get the feedback, the knowledge that it’s getting spread around, and a sense of saving something from oblivion. That’s endemic.

My happiest moments with computers or collections is thinking something might be what it sounds like, and finding out it’s that and more. This is absolutely the opposite of a lot of marketing, which over-promises and under-delivers. I used to think I hated all marketing, but I don’t. I hate bad, misleading marketing. Getting the word out about work I’ve done, to blow some minds and make some days? More of that. So knowing stuff I’m doing gives that feeling every single day definitely motivates me.

My projects tend to be accumulative, and contributory – I add things, I don’t take old things away, and I encourage people to help me and be engaged. To want to walk away from these projects would be strange for me, as a result. Since they basically run themselves if they aren’t added to, I don’t have to be there for every second. Webservers provide the data, rsync shares the information to mirrors, and my weblog software just keeps humming along waiting for an entry, whenever it shows up. It’s nice.

You know the old saw, “Enjoy what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life?” Like that. But with more Apple II crack screens.

Hope that helped.

Categorised as: jason his own self

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  1. DeepGeek says:

    Hi, Jason,
    As a marginal podcaster (my uber-radical news & tech news gets about 600 downloads these days,) I found your thoughts on longevity particular encouraging!
    Podcasting is a shitload of work, so burnout it endemic. Add a topic like news, where quantity and a regular predictable schedule really matter, and it gets tougher. I often wonder how long I can last, as I see other podcasters “podfade.”
    I suppose only time will tell…
    As a postscript, I want to say that for those of us who do stuff because we believe in it, as opposed to having a salary from it, need those “thank you” feedbacks. I think as the internet continues to get more busy, there is less and less of a tendency for people to take the time to write those emails and send those messages (microblog and irc.) I wonder if a lack of positive feedback will assist “small frys” in losing to big commercial content in the long term.

    yours, ever,


  2. Emanuel says:

    Thanks for you answer – and yes, that helped! Good words & thoughts! =)

  3. another jason says:

    I’ve also been reading you for years and often wondered the same questions. And i’ve read you previously discuss the importance of longevity. It was a truth then, is a truth now, and will always be. As a reader, i’m glad your passions are propped with your dedication. Cheerio!