ASCII by Jason Scott

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Home Stretch —

MAKE IT PAY is basically done.

I need a few more shots of the inside of ONE BBSCON to make what people are saying about it more illustrative, but otherwise, the thing is pretty much nailed. This is the last of the episodes, and brings to a close “new” content, that is, episodes or footage not already rendered out and being analyzed by The Eye and myself.

What’s left is mostly mundanity: shoring up the subtitles (it’ll be in either 2 or 3 languages, depending on the footage, and depending on who was available to translate), testing the menus, adding chapters (I have chapters work, but I don’t do those silly “one hundred billion little video windows you scroll through” menus), and then testing, testing, testing.

I refuse to make predictions of any major amount, but if this thing isn’t out the door to the printers in the next week or two, someone should come by and hit me with a sack of potatoes. I hope to have everything out by end of month, but I had hoped it would be done by the end of November 2004, too. I am not good at predicting the full weight of the rock I am carrying.

MAKE IT PAY, as an episode, is somewhat taxing on the editing side, because what we have are two sides to the story, which are simply at odds with each other. On one side, you have people who built BBSes for the fun of it, as one might tinker with a car or collect comic books, or host parties for your friends. On the other side, there were a small army of folks who saw personal or general financial gain in this amazing new technology, where they could create software for sale, or charge to use their BBS, or otherwise eke a living out of this unchartered territory. As you might imagine, these two outlooks didn’t co-exist entirely well.

Subsequently, we have these multiple great figures, and I mean “great” in the larger-than-life sense, who were well on their way to sculpting out an online industry from the foundations of the BBS, and then we also have a chorus of voices saying “what are they DOING? Why are they going to RUIN IT?” I was, as a person, very pleased to have gotten all these great interviews with people who were figures from my memory, people who ran the companies that made software I used daily. But I also had to include the voices that felt trampled or used by these same figures (or at least, the industry they represent). So it goes back and forth.

I suspect that to some people I will have barely scratched the surface of the story, but a part of that is because it’s one hell of a story, and needs a book, just like the Fidonet story (and for that matter, many other stories I do not tell in the scope of this episode set). I may only scratch the surface, but it was a very unscratched surface.

I will update with some general technical and wrap-up information next, after this, talking about what’s on the DVD set. Which is a ton.

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  1. Congrats! Another milestone!