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April 26, 2023 8 mins

We first reached out to digital archivist Jason Scott in episode five about the MySpace data loss. It turns out Jason had a lot more to say about his place in MySpace history that didn't make it into that episode. 


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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:09):
Originals. This is an iHeart original. Thanks for listening to
main accounts. The story of MySpace bonus episode here. When
we first reached out to Jason Scott, the digital archivist
featured in episode five, we knew he'd have a lot

to say about the MySpace data loss. It turns out
Jason has a lot more to say about MySpace. He
has a story which is actually known in certain corners
as the Jason Scott MySpace story.

Speaker 2 (00:48):
There will be a segment of people who will be
furious if they find out you interviewed Jason Scott and
you don't know the MySpace story. Do you know that
Jason Scott MySpace story?

Speaker 1 (01:01):
Oh no, I'm sorry.

Speaker 2 (01:03):
I didn't go No, no, no, no, no, that's fine, that's fine,
it's fine. But I'm doing this for you. I'm going
to give you so much. I'm going to give you
this story because they're going to go you talked to
Jason Scott and you didn't talk about blank, and that
will be And again, I'm not telling you this story
because I'm like, this needs to go in got it.
I'm telling you this story because otherwise people will literally.

Speaker 1 (01:27):
It's a funny and illustrative example of how images worked
on the social network and something known as hotlinking. I'll
let Jason take it from here, all.

Speaker 2 (01:38):
Right, let's go, let's go, let's go, let's do let's
do it all right. So I run a site called
text files dot com, and text files dot com is
a collection of bulletin boards system era files items from
the nineteen eighties when people would write lots of things
in text and transfer them by modem. And I was

very worried in the nineteen nineties that with this brand
new Internet everything was going to disappear of the bulletin
board system era. So I gathered up everything i'd collected,
registered the name text files dot com, and I put
it up and it was very popular for the time,
hundreds of thousands of people a month. People just loved

having that old history. Some of them it was personal history,
and for others it was like weird views of what
the world was like. And so over time, though, I
discovered that it was really a job that was never
going to end because there were other aspects. There were
things like old demo seeing artworks, you know, beautifully drawn pictures,

beautifully created music using very old music formats that would
be like MIDI, and so I started to make more
and more and more sites associated with text files dot com, artsecene,
dot text files dot com, and even pdf dot text
files dot com for documents. About that time, so Here,

I was minding my own business with a nice sight
that I ran no ads as my own little place,
and one day I noticed that my bandwidth was being
used like a lot, like wow, it's like a hundred
times more than it used to be. It keeps going,

in fact, and I run some of my log analyzers
and I go, it's one image. It's just one image,
and it's of a grim reaper and it's from this
piece of art, you know, that was part of some
art scene creation. It was. It was nice, it's beautiful,

but it was being accessed like literally hundreds of thousands
of times an hour, and I couldn't figure it out.
So I started to do some research and I discovered
it was on MySpace, and there was a MySpace theme,

you know, because you could order a MySpace theme so
that it would be this color text and this graphic
background and so on, so people could make themes. And
there was a theme that was really really popular with people,
and it hot linked to my grim Reaper. Now I

don't know what to do, and I hadn't paid too
much attention to my Space, and that was when I
found out, to my horror that there was no buffering
going on. So every time you read a new message,
every time you clicked on a link and that was
in the background, it would load it for me again,
over and over and over and over and over. So
it's not a financial lean because of the way I

had things set up, but it was definitely a bandwidth leen.
It was definitely like, my god, what are they doing
to me? So I replaced the image, and I replaced
the image with goats, with this horrifying image that at
the time was it was unsure where it had come from.

It was a bizarre photo of somebody pulling apart the
cheeks of their own buttocks at the camera and it
was a shock image, and I wrote at the bottom.
I added text to it and said, hey, MySpace, look
what you did to my ass. Please stop. And then
chaos erupted on my Space. So it's going everywhere. Nobody

knows how to get rid of it. You can see
posts from people saying I don't know what to do.
I don't know how to fix the problem. Oh my god,
you know, just this shock and I watched it get
grabbed hundreds of thousands of times. But now I was

the master. I was in control until finally the company
that was selling the theme of the Grim Reaper they
were charging people, contacted me, telling me I needed to
change it because it was ruining their product. And I

went no, and I left it up there forever. And
at the time, I thought, there's actually some consequences to this,
like this interlinking Internet, this idealistic way of putting things together.

And I wrote a blog post called Freedom, Justice, and
a disturbingly Gaping Ass back in the early two thousands
that is one of my most popular essays about the
pros and cons of an interlin world that lives with
bad actors. And from then on, I promise you, because
no matter what I've accomplished, three documentaries, working for the

Internet Archive, doing presentations and speeches and Archive team and
all of these things I've done, somebody somewhere deep in
the comments we'll mention MySpace and there's nothing I can
do about it. And it's gonna be on my grave
when I die. So anyway, that's the Jason Scott MySpace story.

Speaker 1 (07:44):
Okay, that is definitely a MySpace story. Thanks for listening
to Maine Accounts The Story of MySpace and iHeart Original
podcast Main Accounts. The Story of MySpace is written and
hosted by me Joanne McNeil. Editing but sound design by
Mike Coscarelli and Mary Do Original music by Alice McCoy,

Mixing and mastering by Josh Fisher, Research and fact checking
by Austin Thompson, Joson Sears, and Marissa Brown. Show logo
by Lucy Kintania. Special thanks to Ryan Murdoch Grace Views
at the Head Frasier. Our associate producer is Lauren Phillip,
our senior producer is Mike Coscarelli, and our executive producer

is Jason English. If you're enjoying the show, leave us
a rating and review on your favorite podcast platform Sadly,
my MySpace page is no longer around, but you can
find me on Twitter at Joe Mick. Let us hear
your MySpace story and check out my book Lurking Main Accounts.
The Story of MySpace is a production of iHeart Podcasts.
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