Why Tech Documentaries are Impossible (And why we have to do them anyway.)

Presented at DEF CON 13 (2005), July 31, 2005, 3 p.m. (50 minutes)

Documentaries have a place in telling the history and story of many different cultures and events, but documentaries about technical subjects tend to run into common problems: too light, too wrong, too hated. Is the patient terminal? Can you create a film that is both informative and of interest to a general audience? Having spent 4 years creating a tech documentary of his own on the era of the Dial-up Bulletin Board system, Jason Scott of textfiles.com talks about what unique challenges exist in the film medium for telling a highly technical story, as well as what choices had to be made throughout production. The talk will be illustrated with sequences from the resultant five and a half hour BBS Documentary Mini-series.


  • Jason Scott
    Jason Scott has been full-bore collecting history of BBSes and computer culture for 20 years, with the last four being split equally between his BBS history site textfiles.com and his documentary on Dial-up Bulletin Boards, "BBS: The Documentary". With over 200 interviews and 250 hours of footage, this project overtook his life for a very long time and in a very large way. His hobbies include gardening and enjoying civil liberties.