Recently, he's focused primarily on digitizing physical media—turning catalogs, magazines, and programs on floppy discs and CD ROMs into digital files."One of the attributes of human beings is they gather detritus that means something to them, and they assume at some point it will have some cultural or financial value," he said. "They keep it around as a talisman, and to let it go, they need a narrative to understand the journey they've had. People with collections like these need an end to their story—'And then I gave it away to an archive, the end.'"
"People with collections need an end to their story—'And then I gave it away to an archive, the end.'"
A few years ago, I lost my GeoCities website. I downloaded a torrent that purported to archive the sites. It wasn't there. Several archivers tried to download as much as they could over the course of eight months, but Yahoo took the sites offline before it could all be saved and before best archiving practices were in place. Thousands upon thousands of pages were lost forever, because no one had properly saved the four or five terabytes of files that made up the entirety of every GeoCities site ever created."We were all there saying this is terrible, they shouldn't be doing this," Scott said. "It was a perfect storm of no one [at Yahoo] recognized the value, and then a year later, people started to recognize the value and it was too late."Scott says that if it happened today, GeoCities would only take a couple weeks to archive. He's currently archiving FTP sites, game patches, and software update files, which he says are disappearing: "People don't even have it on their radar."
"The scary part of this online world is how fragile it is. It's relatively easy to make a perfect copy, but if you don't make that copy, it will be utterly lost."
"My parents got divorced when I was very young, and I got this lesson that nothing is permanent," he said. "I internalized it as, if I don't make an effort to save things, they'll disappear. The scary part of this online world is how fragile it is. It's relatively easy to make a perfect copy, but if you don't make that copy, it will be utterly lost. With physical things, you might walk into a thrift shop or a pawn dealer in 20 years and stumble upon it. With the internet, there's no middle ground."Today, Scott lives in in modest house in upstate New York. He's got a 40-foot-long shipping container full of magazines, catalogs, floppy discs, CDs, and other physical media that he's slowly ingesting. He's saved an unfathomable amount of files and stuff—and yet, his room is almost empty save for the stuff he's actively scanning and ingesting."I don't have an interest in personal belongings anymore. When I was in my 20s, I never understood why a band would break up—you can always make great music. But I've had a couple partnerships in my life end and I can't believe we hate each other now," he said. "For many years I enjoyed having a lot of things, but now I think I prefer overseeing things, traveling, and having more experiences. We often forget we go through life only once—I don't want to die and leave a massive to-do list on someone's plate."
"I don't have an interest in personal belongings anymore."