Last night, my husband gave me the one good argument for not doing magpie on my tweet stream that might exist. Some of the people following my tweetstream are those of whom I am a fan, and I probably derive more joy from their slight electronic presence in my life than I would from the small amount of money I expect from magpie. They are also people who probably have an overwhelming # of tweet people and would most understandably get annoyed by spamtweeting and drop me. This was the only good argument presented against the ads, but it was sufficient.
That said, just bringing it up over the last 3 days was an interesting, if unintentional, social experiment. I have 130 friends on twitter. One person expressed understanding w the unemployed-thus-ads stance, one person from my real life dropped me and asked to be notified when I dropped magpie, and not a peep out of the other 128. One commented (Brian Richardson of What the Cast and DragonConTV , a charming fellow) that I’ll “find out soon enough” if everyone hates it, and that probably predicts more accurately most people’s reaction: not willing to say “oh pls don’t do it”, not willing to tell me they’re dropping me before they do, just off into the electronic night without a goodbye.
I have a mixed emotional reaction to this. Part of me feels that I create some decent content on Twitter (quote of the day, purposely keeping ~90% of my tweets just to that which might amuse, bolster, or create discussion) and so 2-3 ads per week is a minimal commercial intrusion for what is provided. Part of me feels that my unemployment grants more allowability to put in the ads, which was seconded by one person. Of course I understand that no one actually wants them to show up. No one is feeling the want of ads, after all, and telling me to put some into the stream.
Then there is the slightly less net-and-CC-belovable emotional reaction. I do try hard to create interesting content, and most of the people who follow me have never said a word to me. That’s a very broadcast-viewer relationship, or at least niche-cast, and I feel I might as well benefit in some way for the goods I provide them. If they have never spoken to me and will drop me for trying to gain some tangible benefit from what they enjoy, what have I really lost (with the possible exception of the people like Phil Plait, etc. to whom I alluded above)? A popularity number? If that number reflects a set who are 1)unwilling to help me out via pardoning the ads while I’m unemployed and 2) who won’t speak to me anyway even to request I not displease them when I have asked them thrice for their opinions on the matter, I would have only lost the fairest-weather friends from the list of followers. It would make my friendset more honestly my friends and weed out those who are not interacting with me, and I cannot say that would be a bad thing outside of the specified exceptions.
There are those who follow the Creative Commons philosophy that everything you produce should be an open gift to all, and the rewards you get will be the greater for it. Outside of my podcast (where the payoff is the meeting of new CF friends and a repayment of my own emotional debt to the childfree listserv that made me feel not-alone when I found it), I only follow this philosophy to the “yes, give them a decent-chunk-of-freebie taste of your book/photography/other project to judge whether they wish to support the rest of your work” extent. I have seen too many photo-emails with the copyright stamps blurred out on the photos or which comprise half of a book without _any_ credit given to the now-lost photographer to be easy with the “open gift” CC philosophy for everything. I also have seen a growth in attitudes of entitlement across American society in the last 15 years, and while Ayn Rand pushed her point to the extreme liberally with a sledgehammer, I do believe that the creation of value/content should benefit the creators. I’d love to talk with other photographers who do follow the CC/net 2.0 model about how well they have made it work, but the opportunity hasn’t come up. Frankly, I suspect the freebie can only ever be a taster/ad/get a name built tip of the iceberg for a fiscally-self-supporting photographer, but I’m open to being shown I’m wrong.
If wanting to benefit tangibly from my creative work is now “crass” to the net community, I can only raise the point that creative people have many things they could do with their creation time instead, such as socializing, other hobbies they enjoy that do not create entertainment for others, their own passive entertainments, life obligations and that paying stuff, sleep, or sex. Yeah, I could spend an evening editing my work for the anonymous public, or I could spend it having a helluva romp with my husband. It’s a spectrum, not a binary choice, but if I start to feel that the producing only drifts off to the bottomless void and that I receive insufficient benefit making it public-worthy and available, I’m going to spend more evenings otherwise occupied.
So what will I be doing to support my upcoming hosting renewal? Putting up a paypal donation button on this blog, signing up for an ad service for my show note blog posts that doesn’t deliver diaper and daycare ads due to strange keywordage with “childfree”, and starting jewelry sales via etsy or the webstore app that comes with my hosting. I would appreciate advice and opinions on all of these points!
Chris the Fixed Kitty
Note: Henry has been reading Jane Austen novels to me in the evening for the last 3 weeks. Please blame any formal anachronisms in the above on her wiggling into my brain rather than any pretentious airs on my part.