Saving ASCII Art History

Maybe ASCII art will just be a short term thing, relatively. It might pop up in our culture a few times over the next thousand years and some people could take a mild interest in it. I’m not thinking ASCII art is a classic art form which will endure the ages. But, it does bother me that, in the future, most ASCII art will be credited to “Anonymous”.

It’s easier to label it all anonymous than to track down original artists. Especially when initials (artist credits) are removed often and some artists never did add their initials. They were just little doodles done for a momentary amusement, a puzzle to work on before getting some real work done.

With that in mind I think I am worrying about nothing, or putting more thought into this than it deserves. But, I don’t think so. Sort of anyway.

I have a lot of files I have collected, mostly in plain text. It will be a LOT of work to sort them out (decide which artist initials were original and which it may have been stuck with along the way) but I would like to get this done. For posterity, for archivists and for Internet history.

I don’t think I will even try to find a history for each artist. Most use just their initials, or a nickname. They would be too hard to track down. Maybe some future historian will have better data and be able to figure it out. At least a few.

For now here are cars, a traffic jam, from Koshy George. Some of the original site is still online and some is online at the Wayback Machine. Note, the bottom line of text is out of place. I started fixing it then noticed I still missed the tire under the cabin part of the truck. A lot of the old files have problems like this. I have to assume my fixes are as originally intended.

I’ve saved the ASCII art. I will decide, figure out, what works for starting to post it. I could make it a membership thing. Or send out some of it as a newsletter. I don’t have a lot of faith in newsletters but it seems to be what people like (maybe a mobile phone thing).

Is ASCII Art Open Source?

Some people get peeved because I don’t offer my art in a plain text file. I don’t like having my ASCII ripped off, as it so often and easily is. So, for the past few years, I only post an image file (a .png screen capture from NotePad). It still gets ripped off because people like to assume any ASCII art is free, like free software in price and availability. One person even claimed, “no one owns ASCII art”.

I don’t want people to assume it is free. Not free in price. Not free in value and not freely available to be copied or taken. Each person is different in this way. I do not see my ASCII art as free software. I’m not that generous. Mostly, I don’t like feeling taken advantage of when someone else is using my art and it makes me angry when it is being sold, or given away in a product without any consideration to myself. Financial consideration yes, also at the very least, an artist credit. How stingy is someone who takes something offered to them, claims it as their own and sells it at a profit to themselves only?

I would rather ASCI art was open source (the image file which at least still has my artist initials rather than the text file so easily “edited”). Any image online is pretty much open source, whether the artist likes it or not. Watermarks can be removed with software or scissors.

If it were possible, I wouldn’t have ASCII Art as open source either. Respect the ASCII artist, any artist, don’t steal art! You may want to think it is all open source, the person who created the art probably does not see it that way.