In my third year of running TEXTFILES.COM, I realized that this project was a lot bigger than I'd imagined it would be.
I certainly knew the project was large, and that it would take a long time to get it to where I wanted it, but I didn't know I'd be facing down such an enormous amount of text, and, more importantly, such an enormous amount of ONGOING TEXT.
The people who were reading TEXTFILES.COM to go through history were often inspired to add themselves to the archive, or to give me some very excellent files that were, comparatively, new: 1996 information on the Internet, descriptions of games that had come out a year or two earlier, or the writings of a group they founded in 1998 that lasted for about a year.
These were valid parts of what would eventually become history, but they were outside the scope of the original TEXTFILES.COM site. TEXTFILES.COM was meant to capture the history of the BBS textfiles, not to give the latest exploits for web-based collaborative applications. But where to draw the line? How could I possibly say to one file "You're valid" and another, closely related file "you're not worthy?"
The first answer was that I didn't; I just kept taking things in while I sorted through the files, and then left it at that, figuring people would pick through and find what they needed. But then I found that the directories were becoming really unpredictable about what era they were focused in. This was especially the case in the "magazines" directory, which brimmed with collections of magazines ranging from 1984 to literately months ago.
So, after thinking for some time on how to fix this problem (not putting up files was never an option) I came up with two solutions: adding an INTERNET directory to TEXTFILES.COM, and creating this site, WEB.TEXTFILES.COM.
This site will contain all textfiles created on or after January 1, 1995. Why did I choose that date? Well, it's somewhat arbitrary, but 1995 can really be considered the year when the Internet went from being an interesting project to a new vital horizon. Work had been done on the Internet for decades, but with the creation of the World Wide Web a couple years before, 1995 was poised to be the final death knell of the non-networked, single phone line BBS. BBSes still exist to this day, even in the form they were from the 1980's, but they're just not the way that communication is done anymore. They're relics, and the kind of classic projects that harken to a different time that other similar technologies have been relegated to. There's still a lot to learn from them, to be sure (this is part of the reason TEXTFILES.COM is around to begin with) but to lump the files of that era with the World Wide Web of today is doing both sides a disservice.
So, in the future, textfiles created and sent to the site will end up here. They'll focus on events and issues of the present day, and will one day themselves be of historical importance, or at least interest.
I think this was a good choice for TEXTFILES.COM, and I know it means even more textfiles on the sites for you to go through, without me wondering if it all won't get lost in the noise. Thanks, and enjoy.
- Jason Scott