ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Escalation —

So, here’s how this goes.

By my very, very rough estimation, I probably engage in about three thousand transactions related to my projects in a given year. This consists of people who need information, people who want me to send them something, people who want to send me something, and so on – the normal back and forth of doing what it is I do. (I’m not counting mailing out the DVDs of the documentaries – that’s pretty basic.) Some of these transactions are as simple as responding with a number, and some of them are taking possession of materials and doing stuff with them. The latter take longer.

Most of these, I get done somewhat quickly, enough that I get complimented for it. But that’s definitely not the guaranteed situation – I’ve had cases of months getting back to people. I apologize, I try to make up for it somehow, but it does happen. I owe probably a half-dozen e-mail interviews, a couple pieces of hardware need mailing, I promised I’d get back with ideas about someone’s new business or to answer a tough question about the proliferation of various types of media in backup processes…. a bunch of stuff.

Some of this is just me wanting to get stuff right, and some of it is just some minor aspect, my saying “well, I can’t just leave it at that“, and then weeks go by.

Somewhere a ways back, I had a bunch of people involved in the Geocities Torrent, where Archive Team had generated this 647gb collection that uncompresses to about 900gb, and which basically requires a hard drive of its own to really keep a copy of. Some people started torrenting it, and we also ran into some hilarious case sensitivity issue.. and, well.. anyway, so all of it is now up on archive.org if you want a copy. (Hint, it’s huge.)

A number of people mailed me hard drives, about 10. I put a copy on their hard drives, and then mailed them back. Except one.

He was supposed to mail it in February, according to my records.

Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2011 13:55:46 -0600
From: Tim
To: Jason Scott <jason@textfiles.com>

sounds good... give me a mailing address, I'm headed to the post office
shortly anyway...  I'll drop in a label and money for return postage, much
appreciated.  I'd be mailing a 1gig external usb... I'll delete any data,
but the only data is from your torrent download anyway... :)

But things being what they are, he ended up not mailing it until a month later.  These things happen.

Date: Fri, 4 Mar 2011 15:58:00 -0600
From: Tim
To: Jason Scott <jason@textfiles.com>

Jason:

Hi.. I completely forgot to ship this, put it in my trunk, then forgot it.
Anyway, shipped now (see attached).  However in my haste I forgot to put in
a return label/postage/and something for your time.

Have you got a paypal addy?  If so I'll send some cash there.  If not, I'll
send out a money order, let me know.  Have a good weekend.

Best, Tim

The drive arrived on March 7th.

This drive was in a slightly different form factor than the others, and at the time I didn’t have a dock to put it into, so no way to really read it. I did eventually buy a dock, but only recently. Money was pretty tight for a while (I was unemployed) so I couldn’t really put anything towards a dock and the rest, so the project kind of laid dormant.

The hard drive owner, Tim, mailed me about it, a couple times. I’m sure if I looked at that whole mail spool at the time, I was doing literally dozens of other things.

Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2011 18:24:45 -0500
From: Tim
To: Jason Scott <jason@textfiles.com>

so what's the status of things?

 

Date: Fri, 18 Mar 2011 18:35:49 -0500
From: Tim
To: Jason Scott <jason@textfiles.com>

no word?  This is surprising, thought all was cool... Am I going to get the
stuff or not?  Offered to send you some paypal... what's up?

Long time now since the HD arrived.  I'd appreciate letting me know what the
status is.

Tim

“Long time” in this case was 11 days. Not long for me, and as I guess I indicate next, I was also travelling at this time – I had just spent a week at GDC 2011, and was about to go spend another week down in Austin, TX for SXSW, and had spent no time at home between them. So things were now out of sync.

Date: Fri, 18 Mar 2011 19:50:51 -0400
From: Jason Scott <jason@textfiles.com>
To: Tim

Traveling, back Sunday.

Here was my first mistake, because even if I was back Sunday, I was then stuck not only catching up with a pile of things needing my attention, but I was now going to start employment, and dealing with more travel and projects coming up. I’ve gone from being able to get things working on something like a hard drive, and doing the transfer of material, to heading down a path of more and more complicated projects. I am, in other words, fantastically busy.

Date: Fri, 1 Apr 2011 18:00:30 -0500
From: Tim
To: Jason Scott <jason@textfiles.com>

Assume you're back and have been back.  What appreciate the status please?
Tim

 

Date: Sun, 3 Apr 2011 23:31:28 -0500
From: Tim
To: Jason Scott <jason@textfiles.com>

this going to happen, or I shall chalk it up to life experience?

 

Here is, looking back, where it goes off the rails. Something about the tone, combined with the work I’m doing, and the whole situation, means that the priority this whole thing has, to go out and get the dock and find the hard drive with my copy of the torrent on it, and then to do the copy, and all the rest, drops noticeably. I’m focused on a lot of things, and something about “chalk it up to life experience” just makes my face scrunch. My mistake was then not just sending the drive back, saying “ah, look, it’s just taking forever”, and then knowing it would be up on archive.org soon anyway.

No, instead of that, I end up doing a non-committal “mmmmm”, e-mail style, which means “Look, yeah, I’m going to get to it, but I’m in the middle of a lot of stuff and I can’t set aside the day to set this all up, OK, just relax.” but probably comes off as “yeah, yeah”.

Date: Mon, 4 Apr 2011 00:40:48 -0400
From: Jason Scott <jason@textfiles.com>
To: Tim

It'll happen.

Now in the low priority bin, Tim is left to flail. Again, my fault. And here, well, here you can watch what happens.

Date: Tue, 3 May 2011 16:04:12 -0500
From: Tim
To: Jason Scott <jason@textfiles.com>

my 30 day check in... any updates? T

 

Date: Sun, 8 May 2011 20:19:40 -0500
From: Tim
To: Jason Scott <jason@textfiles.com>

so now I don't even get a reply?  If it's not going to happen, then
please return the HD so I can put it to use.  I'm not certain at this
point if you're simply too busy, have forgotten me, or it's something
else.  You are the one that suggested your doing this, I have not
asked otherwise.

I need the files, my HD or pay me a fair price for the HD and keep it.
 Any of the three, but c'mon man, no word is just not right.

T

 

Date: Wed, 11 May 2011 17:41:50 -0500
From: Tim
To: Jason Scott <jason@textfiles.com>

Jason:

I won't bother you again then... IF (and I doubt it) you want to do the
right thing, get in touch.  I've lost faith in you and this, so keep the HD
and the files, I'll find a Unix guy and get the torrent myself.  I really
thought you were honorable (doing the torrent and all) but WAY too much time
has past, this is a very sour deal.

Enjoy the HD (life lesson for me).

Tim

 

Date: Thu, 30 Jun 2011 21:29:01 -0500
From: Tim
To: Jason Scott <jason@textfiles.com>

Happy July 4th... As the fireworks explode... think of all the honest, good,
hard working Americans who lived and died for this country.

Then think of those who NEVER follow through, who make promises they never
keep or intended to keep, who take merchandise under false pretense, who
ruin the integrity and spirit of the net...

Have a good weekend.

Tim

 

Date: Tue, 13 Sep 2011 00:48:02 -0500
From: Tim
To: Jason Scott <jason@textfiles.com>

just thought I say hi and let you know I haven't forgotten you.  One day...
in some way... you will be repaid.  Dishonesty is too nice a word for
you...  Have a happy holiday season... NOT.

 

Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2011 01:03:47 -0600
From: Tim 
To: Jason Scott <jason@textfiles.com>

Happy holidays thief.  Hope Santa chokes on your cookies. :)

 

Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2011 01:10:43 -0600
From: Tim
To: Jason Scott <jason@textfiles.com>

see you on kickstarter, I'll be sure to follow you  CLOSELY.. and help
out with comments whenever I see your name online.  $100k... yet you
rip me off, hard to believe.  .

 

Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2011 01:14:44 -0600
From: Tim
To: Jason Scott <jason@textfiles.com>

ah ha... I see Kickstarter has a link for "reporting projects"..
wonder what I can stir up by pasting our long thread... we'll see if
you respond or not. Sweet dreams. Tim

 

Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2011 01:16:46 -0600
From: Tim
To: Jason Scott <jason@textfiles.com>

even better.... think I'll donate $10 so I can comment about the
project... social media... love it.

 

Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2011 16:39:13 -0600
Subject: kickstarter project
From: Tim
To: Jason Scott <jason@textfiles.com>

Jason:

This is Tim, the guy whom you do not answer at my main email (
XXXXXX).  Here are two options.

*1.* Return my money via paypal (it seems you have PLENTY of money now).
The money I speak of is the cost of the hard drive I purchased and mailed
to you (at your request).  The cost of my postage to send it.  The
frustration you have caused over a LONG period of time.  We'll call it $200

or

*2.*  I will do my utmost to share our complete and long thread with
(including many quotes from you saying you would fulfill your promises)
with the Kickstarter administration as well as becoming a small partner and
sharing my comments (and links to the full thread) in your section.

Your choice, all I want is to resolve this

To be clear... at this point I am ONLY interested in the return of cash,
the hard should remain in your possession.

You may use XXXXXXX as the Paypal email and IF the funds are
received promptly, this will bring this matter and our communications to an
end.  If not, then (see #2 above).

Best,

Tim

 

It’s an interesting study, to say the least. I’m hardly blameless, and the whole thing going off the rails as far as it did is definitely my fault. But the gentle traipsing into blackmail and sinister threats are also prime demotivators to following through, so I decided to split the difference. Post it all here, let you see how not every person who deals with me is 100% satisfied, and then, when I get back to my home office later this week after Thanksgiving, find the drive, mail it back, and never think about it again. Perhaps not the best solution, but about what I’m into doing, all things considered.

And to my other friends who I owe a few things for, I’m sorry for the delay. It happens.

I’ll do my best to improve.


Categorised as: jason his own self

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28 Comments

  1. RaD Man says:

    I bet this guy gets ALL the girls.

  2. Jack says:

    I really don’t see how he thinks that Kickstarter administration is going to be interested in this thread. Perhaps next he’ll find a project by someone he loaned pizza money to in college and try to blackmail that guy, too?

  3. adam says:

    Well, I really can’t argue in favor of “Tim”, as he goes completely off the rails… But really, you brought this on yourself by 100% failing at communicating. Hindsight 20/20 and all that, the moment you received the drive and realized you couldn’t write to it with the hardware on hand, an email along the lines of the following would have been appropriate:

    “I need to purchase extra hardware to [do this task], do you want the drive back? Or do you want me to hold onto it and send it back once I acquire the hardware to finish the task? I’m planning to do so, but be forewarned that this is low priority for me and will take a long time (on the order of many months).”

    I mean, you sent the guy a total of 5 words. 6, if you count the contraction as two.

    I realize that from your end, you were volunteering a service free of charge and therefore did not place much importance on this single transaction. But I hope you understand that from his end, he has entrusted a valuable piece of equipment to you (getting more valuable by the day, what with Thailand and all…), and seen absolutely nothing for it – not even a 2-minute, multi-sentence email.

  4. Michael Kohne says:

    Well, I can’t see a better way for you to handle this than publishing the e-mails yourself – at least you are admitting your mistake. For the future, I think you can save a lot of hassle by just replying ‘Been busy, haven’t forgotten you’ to such e-mails.

    Tim, of course, needs to also work on not going snarky too early with people who are doing stuff for him.

    For the future, Jason, when you have things like this (copy N hard drives for random people), you might want to get someone to help you (someone who isn’t bogged down with as much other stuff as you). I’ll happily help out with stuff like this, if you need it.

  5. Fremont says:

    Why not just reply to one of the May emails where he was annoyed but still reasonable? I understand how these type of things can drift but those were perfect opportunities to take care of it. You did have his hard drive after all.

  6. Stephen Gilbert says:

    I can see why Tim would be upset. He was probably a fan of your work; you were someone he admired and trusted. He had no problem sending you a hard drive for this project. But then months go by with no communication from you. And no hard drive, of course. He’ even states outright that he doesn’t know if you’re too busy, but please let him know. After months of silence, what’s the guy supposed to think? It looks like someone he admired and trusted just stole a hard drive from him! That probably hurt him a lot.

    Up to this point, I’m totally on Tim’s side. But then he resorts to blackmail. Not cool.

    I know you always have a bunch of projects on the go, and some are pretty low priority. But any project that involves you holding someone else’s property can’t be put on the back burner like that. If you don’t have time or resources to get it done, take a couple of minutes to write an email and let the person know right away.

  7. Jake McGraw says:

    Here is how I regard everything you do Jason, which I support. It is AWESOME what you’re doing. You’re getting into the nitty gritty details and providing a curatorial role which is absolutely necessary when dealing with these huge datasets.

    Any service you provide outside of archiving is a plus, a nice to have, a bonus. So, when I throw funds or promote you and your mission, I don’t expect anything in return. My satisfaction in how you personalize the archival tour de force specifically for me takes a far, far backseat to the mission itself. I think in a perfect world, all your supporters would have this standpoint.

    If anyone hasn’t gotten it already, here it is in plain english: What Jason does is more important than what you “get” from it.

  8. Tom says:

    I think I’m with ‘Tim’ (the enchanter?) up until May, after that he looses all my sympathy.

  9. Mr. Copy says:

    Please pry off a “.” cap from a keyboard and mail that to him too; seems his period key is another potential casualty in all this.

  10. Gene Buckle says:

    From my experience with Jason, one thing always stands out – the poor guy is so busy I suspect he has a kindred spirit in the venerable one-armed paper hanger.

    A number of years ago I got to wait 7 months for a copy of cd.textfiles.com. It was NO BIG FSCKING DEAL. I knew from the outset that he’s got more important things to do than drop whatever he’s working on so he can copy data to an HD as a favor. I could have waited 14 months and still would have been as grateful and appreciative. He’s voluntarily giving away a priceless, irreplaceable commodity – his time.

    It makes me crazier than a box of frogs when some asshat gets all butthurt because someone doesn’t snap-to and perform some task on their schedule. Especially when the task being undertaken is voluntary and free.

    I never thought I’d meet the real Timmmmay.

    *ahem*

    g.

  11. nimbus says:

    What we need is a clone army of Jasons to do all the awesome that needs doing.

  12. Gene Buckle says:

    @nimbus, that would be the most awesome Kickstarter project ever. :)

    g.

  13. TheOmasse says:

    Blackmail sucks and is inexcusable but c’mon, dude! The guy entrusts you with an incompatible hard drive and you don’t tell him clearly if and when you’ll be able to take care of it. As a matter of fact, you don’t tell him shit. Sorry Jason, no matter how much I appreciate your work, I’d be upset too if I were in Tim’s shoes.

    And what do you expect, personality-wise, from people asking you “copies of geocities on a terabyte hard drive”? Beauty pageants? I don’t. You could have resolved this way before before he went nuts and would still count this guy as a fan of yours.

  14. ryanlrussell says:

    Give me his email, I’ll pay him.

  15. Swizzle says:

    I can relate to this – I have a lot of e-mails and side projects on the back burner at all times. I don’t mean to keep everyone waiting for so long, but I always have a hard time catching up on a limited schedule for my hobbies.

    I’ve given out my cell phone number and home address on occasion to people I’m working with online and I’ve run into a few “Tim’s” before. It’s one thing to simply click delete in the e-mail inbox, but it’s another to get mysterious packages and phone calls at all hours…

  16. Nate says:

    I gave Jason $500 for the last kickstarter. I said I didn’t want the gift, just a copy of the Get Lamp DVD when it was done.

    When I found out others were receiving their orders, I emailed him. It took a few emails and 2 months to get a response. It took 3+ months to actually get the DVD.

    I sympathize with Tim up through May. I did not go psycho on Jason like he did after that point, and I will donate to his future efforts. But I’ve also seen that he gets overcommitted and that can be painful, especially when you donated a lot.

    My suggestion to Jason is to delegate, delegate, delegate. Find someone else to build/dupe the torrent. Coordinate, but clearly point out who is actually in charge of each effort.

    For the donation/DVD stuff, I humbly recommend a part-time office helper. Maybe just a friend or family member, but having some help could make the difference. Of course, my expectations were always low since I know he does this work as a side project, but it would be nice to have a slightly better response rate.

    Thanks and keep up your neat work!

  17. Egan Ford says:

    13/numbus and 18/Nate,

    Yes. Delegate.

    Jason has an army of followers (the Jasonites?), and I am sure a small fraction of them would donate time at no cost.

    Jason, put together a catalog of services, have your followers petition to lead selective efforts, and *delegate* to them. Create a feedback rating system so that your public can tell you how your cronies, ummm…, volunteers are doing.

    If you do this right, then your life will be more public speaking, making documentaries, and leading.

  18. Egan Ford says:

    16/Ryan,

    Awesome.

  19. John McDevitt says:

    I don’t know why people sympathize with Tim “until May”. All of May is perfectly reasonable. It gets dicey at times after that, but I’ve gotta say I’m with Tim here. When you send somebody who is supposedly trustworthy a $200 piece of equipment and hear nothing for months you earn the right to compose a few nasty emails.

    The “blackmail” is also fine. This isn’t like a guy threatening to go public with details about Dave Letterman’s sex life, something which does not affect the blackmailer and is not criminal in nature. Tim was wronged and he is entitled to go public with the information that Jason is, ostensibly, a scammer (plain and simple).

    I am a member of a forum where money often changes hands between members, and the type of thing that Jason did (or didn’t do) here is more than fair grounds for being labeled a “scammer” with every effort made to publicly shame the perpetrator until he makes good.

  20. John McDevitt says:

    Addendum: When I write that Jason is “ostensibly” a scammer, I mean from Tim’s perspective before this blog post. I do not believe that Jason is consciously scamming anybody.

  21. Tim says:

    Wow great thread, and yes… I DID GET MAD. And then I see Jason got funding for $100K+… and still no word from him, no return of money, nothing. While I MAY (not certain) have overstepped my bounds… it seems (at least) I did get his attention.

    And while I applaud him for beating me to the punch and posting this (before me), I still am left holding the bag…

    Looks the thread is about 50/50… with my losing ground when I got mad… rightly so, for that I offer my apology…

    That said… my email is logosi@gmail.com and Jason I would appreciate your settling your debt so we can both move forward from this.

    Best, Tim

  22. Tim says:

    Money received

    Transaction ID: 70P59283VS4600142

    Thank you. The matter is closed.

    Good luck with your projects.

  23. Daemon says:

    I think it was Mark Twain who said..

    A man who has a reputation as someone who you can send a hard drive to, to put some stuff on it and send it back to you, can steal hard drives all day long.

  24. Tom says:

    I guess it’s a reminder to all of us, just because you ‘know’ someone from the internet, it’s not the same as knowing them in real life.
    I’m still slightly surprised and gratified when I actually receive the item I’d bought on ebay, especially when I’ve bought it from some obviously dodgy hong kong based seller.

  25. JonBro says:

    I agree with the delegate in theory, but in practice, finding someone that you can trust to delegate to is really hard.

    I do hope you get some bitchin interns at some point though. If nothing else than to deal with your low priority emails.

  26. Tem says:

    Just deleting my Comment.

    So Jason is not above Censorship I guess.