ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Infinite Inboxes of Infinity —

Carcinization is the tendency of reality to keep making things into Crabs or Crab-like creatures. (De-Carcinization is when it goes the other way, and in fact there’s evidence of oscillation between the two states.) It’s the sort of thing that sounds fantastically interesting, the shallow end of the thinking pool, but then leaves you confused as to what to do with that information – you can’t fully stop it, and there’s no reason you might specifically want to. And whatever crab-making is happening now doesn’t really affect you in the short or even long-term – it’s just happening.

What I discovered, this late in life, is I turn everything into an inbox. Again, I’m not sure this is going to change your existence or opinion in any way, but here we are.

In the dim mists of decades ago, I appear to have launched into a serialization of projects that I’ve never recovered from, making piles of to-dos and tasks and then attacking them, often at the expense of all else, for hours and hours. The earliest efforts of what became TEXTFILES.COM was me gathering textfiles from all sorts of bulletin board systems, logging in to grab copies and take text-based snapshots of what was there, then dragging it home into piles of floppy disks, with the goal of…. well, something. I started calling the disks “The Works, Disk _____” as I visualized, at 13, that I would one day have a BBS called The Works and these disks would be the starting seed vault that it would grow from. The fact this happened is quite remarkable to me, but it happened. The Works BBS under Jason became the Works BBS under David and then Matt and then Others, and I then took the textfiles of The Works BBS and it became a site, itself a collection of descriptions that came because I created a second Inbox, one of describing roughly 50,000 files by myself.

That all seems like a rather straightforward observation, except it turns out that nearly everything I am doing, in all situations, has become an inbox, a collection of waiting piles of transferred or fetched tasks that require some sort of response, acknowledgement, or process as a result.

All this to say, that’s why this weblog hasn’t seen a real update in years.

The dark side of a Life of Inbox is that if some inboxes are more pressing or easier to process, other inboxes fall by the wayside, because they either require Deep Thought or otherwise need my full attention, and my full attention has become a rare commodity indeed.

I started this site for, essentially, Essays. Thoughts that would be best explained in detail, and then referenced over time, where people could pick them apart or talk about them, or be able to explain my motivations or efforts in a laid-back, slow-cooked, contemplative fashion instead of the hottest bon mot to fly out of my keyboard. And for years, it was definitely that.

Two things took that away.

First, the Podcast turned into a receptacle for both my essays, and presentations I might give; 12-20 minute compositions about subjects I thought needed covering, offered in a way that both reached people, and allowed, through a Patreon, to help cover my debts and money issues over the years. For both those situations, it has been a runaway success – my debts are basically paid (although I do get costs like medical that crop up, and taxes still continue to be a bother), and I’m happy with the subjects I’ve dove into across over 200 episodes, which is a lot of episodes to be sure.

Second, social media is a very nice way to construct a simple outlook, a shallow formed snowball from some half-cooked ideals, and throw them into the public sphere. And that’s been fascinating in its own right, and led to crushing lows and exhilarating highs. I’ve been lambasted, treated like royalty, and made amazing connections via the various to-the-minute inboxes they represent.

But with the very real, very actual spiral of Twitter, one of my inboxes has cleared up with a puff of poorly-administrated smoke. Because of architectural changes, I’m no longer getting what the folks call “engagement” in a meaningful way, and Mastodon, where I find myself living as well, does not encourage the multiple-dives-a-day energy of Twitter (for the better of all, to be honest).

So, back comes this weblog, with the 2020s in full swing and the world grinding along, and it’s nice to be back. I try not to cover old ground unless it’s needed, so the Rule of Essays continues.

Let’s go.

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  1. jalapeno_dude says:

    It’s ironic, or something, that that archive of podcasts you link to is basically useless for the purposes you said you wanted your essays to have–it isn’t even sortable by episode number, and the podcasts have no titles, transcripts, or keywords, so these “compositions about subjects [you] thought needed covering” are basically only going to reach, in the future, only the miniscule set of people who decide they’re going to listen to *all* of them.

  2. Axel says:

    This was posted on my birthday and coincidentally on one of my favorite words/subjects.
    Funny coincidence, great work. Thank you Jason.

  3. DarseZ says:

    So interesting to come across this at a similar point of reflection in life that many of a certain age may identify with. Finally getting a grasp on the larger arc that is the result of a life of impulses and tendencies.

    Sometimes the wider perspective leads to great change….but we do need the ones who will simply not. give. up. Whatever their compulsions are.

    I tend to be a little more nostalgic by nature than most, so I’ve kept the bookmark to your site handy for years, checking from time to time.

    I’m happy to be the first to say: welcome back.

  4. Martin says:

    I’m sad to see what happening to Twitter, but I’m glad I kept a little light on in the form of my RSS reader all this time. Welcome back!

  5. Horn says:

    I’ve got an issue. Specifically that I check this site (despite no real updates for years) at least once every two months. My addiction has been rewarded! (If you hadn’t posted in 2020, I probably would have stopped.)
    I never knew you had a podcast (and I wouldn’t have listened anyway, as I prefer reading most of the time). I don’t use twitter or other “social media”.
    This was my connection to you and your amazing work and ideas.
    Please make it a real connection again!