ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

The Scent of a Ware —

Buried in the middle of the insane interview I did with Grandmaster Ratte’ of the Cult of the Dead Cow in his bathtub, a time when I was laughing so hard I had to go out and collapse in the hallway of his apartment so as not to ruin the take, is a rather insightful phrase.

Talking about pirating, Ratte’ made a mention of the “Scent of a Ware”. You can hear his phrasing of it in an mp3 I made a while ago. His bathtub “interview” lasted 20 minutes or so, of which I think I used 2 as an easter egg on the Documentary DVD because it totally broke any mood built up around it.

But you know, he was right?

There really was this sense of hunting, tracking down, scoping around for whatever new software was out there. The rules have changed in the modern era but the idea is the same: you and others want something, some people would prefer you not have it, and the conflict within yields both pain and pleasure for all involved. It was a slower process in the 1980s, involving hours or days or even weeks, but all software acquisition achieves that moment when your downloaded file was booting up, and you’re waiting to see whether you had achieved total victory or complete failure.

The chance for serendipity was great here, as well as people pulling some memorable pranks. But that feeling, the idea of booting something up and staring into the screen and hoping it was what you wanted and praying it won’t be something you’d never want in a million years; that’s a strong feeling. A lot of description of experiences are about the utility and usability of a program. There’s something to be said for those heady moments before the program actually runs.

Maybe I’ll find a way to recreate it artistically, or in writing, or something of the like. Another odd, hard-to-capture feeling tucked away for a rainy day…

Categorised as: Uncategorized

Comments are disabled on this post


  1. JAD says:

    So are you going to be releasing the 20 minutes of bathtub footage at

  2. Ah yes, the pursuit of “warez”. As you know, I have many precious memories about those days (enough to fill a book!) It’s very difficult to convey the sense of thrill, excitement, frustration and victory to someone who wasn’t there (or doesn’t “get it”). Those on the outside wonder what the allure of trasmitting 1’s and 0’s back and forth could possibly be.