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Sixteen Colors: Archiving the Evolution of ANSI and ASCII Art

Presented at BSides Las Vegas, August 1, 2013. Explore the history of the ANSI scene, the evolution of the art created by the scene and the efforts to maintain a historical record of the scene.
by

Doug Moore

on 3 August 2013

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Transcript of Sixteen Colors: Archiving the Evolution of ANSI and ASCII Art

Doug Moore
@lordscarlet

http://sixteencolors.net
@sixteencolors
http://facebook.com/sixteencolors
http://github.com/sixteencolors
Who am I?
What is ANSI?
Primitive form of computer art
"Drawn" with characters rather than pixels or lines
Limited to 16 colors
Sixteen Colors: Archiving the Evolution of ANSI and ASCII Art
Group Structure
Localized by area code
Distributed zipped "packs" of artwork
Consisted of ANSI artists, ASCII artists, VGA artists, coders and administrative staff
The Anatomy of a Pack
Created on regular basis (generally monthly)
Contained artwork created by group members since previous pack
Similar to distribution of software releases by warez groups
Contained:
Artwork created by group members since previous pack
Member List
NFO File
Types of Artwork
Login/logoff screens
Menus
Message headers
Advertisements
Politics and the Scene
Competitive
Unofficial hierarchy of groups
ANSI used for privilege
Rippers
GIF2ANS
Productivity peaked in 1997
ANSI as Art
Viewing technology affects the way art is represented
Early art largely comic rips
Later years shunned comic rips
Competition replaced by cooperation
Distinct methods evolved over time
Archiving ANSI and ASCII Art
2003: Dark Domain
3,562 packs
Sixteen Colors
3.4 gigs of packs
3,954 packs
147,510 files
20+ years of packs
Lack of metadata
SAUCE
The future of ANSI?
Maintaining History
http://sixteencolors.net
http://github.com/sixteencolors/sixteencolors-archive
http://draw.sixteencolors.net
http://textfiles.com
1995
2006
Lord Scarlet and Lord Soth both use LS-XXXX.ANS
Multiple artists use "WE-XXXX.ANS" or "US-XXXX.ANS"
Pack name inconsistencies
ICE-9506.ZIP
ACID-55A.ZIP
FIRE0497.ZIP
SYNTH05A.ZIP
Filename Patterns
SAUCE
Standard Architecture for Universal Comment Extensions
Inconsistent usage
"Filth"
"Filthz0r"
"I AM FILTH AND I RULE"
Inconsistent multiple artists
"Various"
"Filth and Enzo"
Same problems for group name
What is ANSI?
The Rise of the BBS
The Underground Art Scene
Politics and the Scene
1992
1993
ANSI as Art
Archiving the ANSI Scene
Full transcript