Cheeseburger Gothic

Back to work

Posted January 6, 2014 into Writing by John Birmingham

... with my new keyboard.

This sleek lookin' piece of kit from Logitech. It's solar powered, promising three months off one good hour long charge in the sun, and can swap between three Bluetooth devices at once, which is good, cos I'm running an iPad air and a Mini as second and third screens for maps, dictionary, Britannica etc...

And best of all it has a pleasingly clicky keyboard. There's nothing like a nice, chunky click to make you feel as though you've written something significant.

First up, I'm charging through a draft of Protocol, Book 2, before moving onto the final in the first tranche of titles in Feb. I've got 'em plotted out and it's now a matter of standing in front of the iMac in my dictation rig, knocking out the pomodori. Got nothing done over Xmas/NY so hoplefully that mean I'm refreshed, rather than rusty.

I'm filling in for a couple of columists at the Age and Herald in early January, which replaces the income I drop when Blunty goes away for Xmas, but once they're done with, I'm going to try dial right back on media work this year. I dropped off a lot of my feature writing over the past eighteen months (and a lot of the mags I once worked for have dropped off the twig too), but what I need to do next is wean myself off the smaller pieces that come in at the rate of two or three a month. The pay rate for them is collpasing and they're becoming little better than distractions from the more lucrative business of writing books.

I made two poor moves last year. Or rather, one bad move, and one premature. The bad move was getting caught up in other people's projects, speciafically a film gig and a separate film-book tie in. I initially resisted the film gig but got talked into it. Shouldn't have. It chewed up half my year and put me way behind on my primary projects. And all the time I knew I wasn't cut out for it. Lesson learned? Stick to your knitting, JB.

The other lesson was that I could ramp up traffic here at the Burger to a point where it replaced most of my other media income, but to do that I'd have to work on the blog full time for six days a week. That's time better spent writing books. Another expensive lesson, but one I'm happier to have learned. I'll file the information away under 'U' for Useful.

But... books.

Book publishing has recovered from the nadir of a couple of years ago when Borders collapsed and took 25% of the market (and everyone's income) down with them. Ebooks seem to have stablised at about a qurter of the market, and pleasingly, shorter genre fiction appears to be a natural fit with them.

So this year I finish and publish the first three Dave Hooper novels. I go back to Stalin's Hammer, and the Disappearance ebooks I've yet to write. I start serious work on a hard copy nonfiction title that's been hanging around for years, getting ignored. And I stay the hell away from bright shiny and ultimately pointless and distracting commissions from magazines, film people, game devs, blogs, everyone.

Aside from Blunty, in 2014 I'm just writing books.

So if you see me hanging around with magazine or other media types, take me by the ear and drag me back to the book writin' barn for a paddlin'. It's where I belong. It's what I'll deserve.

36 Responses to ‘Back to work’

Blarkon asserts...

Posted January 6, 2014

I'm in love with the new Sculpt Ergonomic keyboard http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/en-us/b/sculpt-ergonomic-keyboard-for-business - but I've been addicted to split keyboards since the first Microsoft Ergo keyboard was released. I feel completely cramped with a standard keyboard layout after a few hours and I'm flummoxed as to how you can manage with it without getting irritable.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted January 6, 2014

I mostly dictate, remember. The keyboard is for editing on the fly.

Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted January 6, 2014

Razer Black Widow Gamer Keyboard with a mouse from the same company. The keyboard makes a nice clickety click and more to the point, keeps up with me when I'm hammering along since I don't dictate like JB does.

Worth the money I invested in it. Output is way up.

Now, if I'd just sell something . . .

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

damian mutters...

Posted January 6, 2014

I am very keen on getting a decent clicky keyboard for writing. One of these days I guess.

Edward Osman would have you know...

Posted January 10, 2014

Hello Mr. Birmingham,

why wasn't the third part of the Wihout a Warning - Series published in german, i'm waiting for years now for it to happen. Already started reading it as an english ebook, but half way through i decided not to do such a complex translation without receiving money for it. ;)

So should i wait for it, or should i abandon all hope?

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted January 10, 2014

Edward, I have no idea. It's bought and paid for. The publishers have the copy. I thought it was due out around about now. You remind me to check with my agents.

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WarDog is gonna tell you...

Posted January 6, 2014

Bout bloody time. Now get back to work you sciver.
Write me some more of those wordy things.

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w from brisbane ducks in to say...

Posted January 6, 2014

"Aside from Blunty, in 2014 I'm just writing books."

Dear JB, we do appreciate the tasty provender you kindly provide for us gentle woodland creatures who fossick and play in the sun dappled slopes of your Burger arcadia.

But don't get distracted by all those demons, shapeshifters and death singing Sirens that entice and entrap in the dystopian darkness of Twitter. I mean, if you are going to give it away for free, we are just so nice here at the Burger.

Edward Osman mutters...

Posted January 10, 2014

Hello Mr. Birmingham,

why wasn't the third part of the Wihout a Warning - Series published in german, i'm waiting for years now for it to happen. Already started reading it as an english ebook, but half way through i decided not to do such a complex translation without receiving money for it. ;)

So should i wait for it, or should i abandon all hope?

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alexmac is gonna tell you...

Posted January 6, 2014

Love a bit of keyboard porn. My brother got me a Das Keyboard about six months ago, and it's enhanced my productivity like nothing else. The clackity-ness is so loud and productive-sounding that I virtually have to wear earmuffs while I work. It only connects via USB, though (what is this, the dark ages?).

w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted January 6, 2014

The Das Keyboard. But the keys are all blank!!!
That's just showing off!

damian mumbles...

Posted January 6, 2014

I've always liked the cut of Das Keyboard's jib, with or without paint on the keys. USB-only is a feature, IMHO.

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Halwes has opinions thus...

Posted January 6, 2014

write something funny in hardcover. You know it's there just waiting to come out. I can't just reread Tasmanian babes and Felafel over and over again.

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Barks mutters...

Posted January 6, 2014

I got one of the solar logitechs with the number pad as well. Very nice piece of kit.

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Halwes asserts...

Posted January 6, 2014

The civic net web design advertisement banner link doesn't work.

DNABeast mumbles...

Posted January 9, 2014

Fixed

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Chicom Mick puts forth...

Posted January 6, 2014

Nice to have you back @ the con JB. Look forward to the first of many extraordinary adventures.

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Surtac asserts...

Posted January 6, 2014

So. All ebooks this year? No physical product?

I guess that also means no book tours and no chances to reward you with whiskey.

Ah well - I'll just have to drink it myself. :)

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pi puts forth...

Posted January 6, 2014

nothin beats my clicky keyboard. i actually have three (besides the ones attached to the lappies of course) but when i want to do some typin, nothin beats this one :

http://images.pcworld.com/images/article/2011/09/147939-ibmkey1-5221912.jpg

(shamelessly ripped from http://www.pcworld.com/article/240939/mechanical_keyboards_should_you_switch_.html)

I've had it since I picked up a government off-sale in 1989, and I've never found one better. This sucker is made of metal and weighs about three kilos. Still has the trusty Microsoft Word keyboard template glued to the top.

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pi ducks in to say...

Posted January 6, 2014

But great news about the books JB. Any spoilers about the non-fiction subject?

Dino not to be confused with asserts...

Posted January 6, 2014

pi,

I believe it's a listicle about oxymorons-

like 'Conservative Revolution' frinstance.

Mixups of da 'merican/strayyan language should be exposed.

Like the "brand new 'Heritage' listed building".

Just ain't original.

What's with all the f's?

FFS!

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JBtoo ducks in to say...

Posted January 6, 2014

Handsome! Good to know that bookwriting is proving lucrative, I must try it again. Wishing you a productive and a pecuniarily pleasant 2014.

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Murphy would have you know...

Posted January 6, 2014

JB, I often wonder if your mag/article commissions aren't akin to adjunctland for me. Teaching history provides income and I do love doing it. On the other hand, it doesn't provide what it did and the market is changing. I can't help but wonder if my time wouldn't be better spent at some security job somewhere hammering out stories and novels.

Certainly my productivity has gone up since I've lost half of my teaching revenue.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

Dino not to be confused with has opinions thus...

Posted January 6, 2014

Murph

Maybe a new keyboard will help?

Academia here is tighter than a ...

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Dino not to be confused with reckons...

Posted January 6, 2014

Hey JB

I am writing a book too!

Title-

Copernicus and the whole Sciency this was/is sorta wrong and I can Prove it!

Aka - Da Get back to Basic Common Sense Revolution

This is the selling spread I would like to put your name under-

"A bold ,nay daring, foray into the depths of tricky tricks that logic will use against you and yoz family.

This book will appeal to your inner true duty to the watermelon, weight loss,womensy stuff, white power and Wittengstein"(I thought I would put some thinky stuff in there to change it from the earlier stuff but we can change that)

(Sign here JB)

Dino not to be confused with mutters...

Posted January 7, 2014

Ok JB,

I can see you're thinking about it. That's good. Let me answer some questions if you have any.

(Sales 103- Handling Objections)
Let me show you this(insert joke to reduce tension) my Synopsis, sounds like Hyponsis don't it?(Guffaw and kow tow slightly to instill a feeling of dominance)

But this, this is what I want you to see, my first 4 chapters-

Chapter One

Why concessions to the Flat Earth Deniers was necessary(But Sailing ships still disappeared so maybe there is an edge?)

Chapter Two

Why Killing/Silencing dissenters is still necessary(We let Galileo go for the wrong reasons but Bruno? Mate he had it coming!)

Chapter Three

Building a properly staked Bonfire and knots you need to know(No cheating with BBQ lighters and cable ties this is all Natural)

Chapter Four

Haven't We come a long Way(But why the questions, too many questions will only confuse us)

And so on and so on....

(Sign Here JB)

Dino not to be confused with is gonna tell you...

Posted January 8, 2014

OK JB

I refer to my 'mentor' in Sales. "Sales is Proffesional" yes two f's!

Sales people are slandered. And rightly so. Arthur Miller has no idea.

What a bad play. Sales invites the Scum of the Earth. People who have no Soul. Make the Sale. Get the Money. Fuck the Fuckwit. There are exceptions but honestly, in my experience, Sales is for the shit of Society. They don't give a fuck about anything. They are worse than Junkies. And proud of it.

What happened to you is a 'mantra'. Works on a lot of people.

"Fear of loss is greater than fear of Cost"

Remember that line. Thanks to Sikology people are trying to scam the good people of the world.

Take it or lose, idiot!

That's the translation.

Got to get me some of those pointy shoes.

You know the ones that are a foot long.

Any fuckwit I see wearing them reminds me of the fuckwit bitches wearing 4" high heels.

Avoid them.

They are Zombies.

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BigWillieStyle is gonna tell you...

Posted January 6, 2014

You have inspired me, JB. I reckon I might make 2014 the year I finally try and get my novel published. It's aimed at kidults, it's got dark turns and light relief, set in an alternate-yet-parallel universe, all about a young boy who discovers he's a wizard and gets sent to wizard school.

What does everyone think? If I can get it up, I've got six sequels ready to go.

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Ali asserts...

Posted January 6, 2014

Couldn't care less about the keyboard, (although it did look lovely sunning itself on your deck this a.m...), just get the book thingys done, and stay off the Twit.

That is all.

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damian asserts...

Posted January 6, 2014

I've been very happy with my Logitech Illuminated keyboard, after a few years. Very sleek and slightly clicky. It is probably the right balance for me, though I always meant to try using a really clicky keyboard sometime. I was a fan of the Dreadnought style Mac keyboards and of course the old IBM collapsing spring key-switches. But this is close to the late model PowerBook G4s and early Macbook Pros. USB only, so not for the iDevices, at least directly. I haven't been using those as extra screens myself so far... I suppose this Bluetooth switching thing is interesting.

But when I do have multiple machines set up on the desk, something that I've been doing a bit less of lately but may well again, I prefer something like Synergy. You just need the keyboard and mouse plugged in to one computer, and the rest use it.... you move the mouse cursor between computers like you move it between screens on any multi-monitor set up, and the keyboard focus (and clipboard!) follows it. It pretty much works as you would intuitively expect it to. Pretty neat, in all truth. Used this with my main home workstation running linux (and serving the keyboard and mouse) and a Macbook set up for music production, and this arrangement was pretty close to perfect (specially with the Windows lapdog on the other side).

It looks like there is in fact an iOS client in beta now -- see the "Wiki "(for users)" link at the bottom of the page. Though for the moment it looks like you would need to jailbreak your iDevice and install some other libraries. Ah well.

pi ducks in to say...

Posted January 7, 2014

I've never seen that synergy tool before thanks Damian. Very cool.

damian puts forth...

Posted January 9, 2014

No worries - someone pointed it (or its predecessor project) out several years ago on Usenet after I'd publicly wished for something with that functionality. So spreading the joy is a duty of sorts!

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insomniac mumbles...

Posted January 7, 2014

I'm putting my hand up for the nonclicky keyboard, but then again, I have an unrealized writing career.

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Rob mumbles...

Posted January 7, 2014

I didn't get a keyboard this year. But my son bought me a Canon EOS D600 slr camera for my birthday. He has his first job while at UNI studying engineering and decided to buy his dad the best present ever. So my blog and youtube channel can expect to go full HD this year. Or at least the paintings I show and bands I video will look a bit clearer.

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ShaneAlpha ducks in to say...

Posted January 7, 2014

On the keyboard self congratulation :still rocking a Mark 1 Logitech G15. 10 years old and still going strong.

Now JB, get back to them there work wranglin.

I'm still waiting for Stalins Hammer :Dubbo

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Martin swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 9, 2014

With regsrd to your asides on work and pay and etc, Jim Hines has recently posted about his 2013 income at (naturally enough) jimchines.com/2014/01/2013-writing-income/

He's also got links to his income posts for the 6 previous years (because data). Also, given your comments on ebooks v hardcover v paperback royalties, you may be interested in John Scalzi's post from January last year, on his income / earnings / sales figures for one of his books, whatever.scalzi.com/2013/01/16/the-state-of-a-genre-title-2013

While both authors are writing in relatively low selling (SF and SFF) genres, and both are US based Authors, the figures may make for some interesting reading for you and others interested in the trade.

hth

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Respond to 'Back to work'

Helen Razer's Bad Year

Posted December 16, 2013 into Writing by John Birmingham

I know not all of y'all are fans, but fuck you. I would drink a cup of her urine, and her Worst of 2013 is well worth a read too. (Props to Lord Bob of Nowhere for pointing this one out.)

"Bloggers and ‘writers’ and purveyors of pop-sociology might feel they’re doing society a good turn by analysing sexist critique. But, really they’re just providing an elaborate rationale to show pictures of that Tennessee teen’s vagina AGAIN while expecting that the world of high-sales pop culture and justice ever had any kind of contract with each other."

14 Responses to ‘Helen Razer's Bad Year’

w from brisbane asserts...

Posted December 16, 2013

I haven't seen one of those food trucks, except on the telly.
I notice in the comments to Ms. Razer's blog that the food trucks were seen by at least one person as 'hipster'.
I don't really understand 'hipster' but I think I have seen hipsters out and about.
They seem to cop a fair bit of derision on the internet.
But I've got to say, I find their generally mellow vibe quite pleasant.

Murphy puts forth...

Posted December 16, 2013

Hmm, they aren't particularly new to me. The Army has "gut trucks" which pull up to the motor pools to sell sandwiches, chips, cokes and the like during the day. Not awful food by any means.

Here in Kansas City there is something of a food truck movement in progress. Supposed to be a concentration of them near the local rag's headquarters on a Thursday night though I can never be bothered to figure out which Thursday it is. Apparently some good food to be had, some of it organic.

Though what do we really mean by organic, anyway? Or natural? Hemlock is natural but I'm not drinking a mug of it this morning or any other morning.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Chaz would have you know...

Posted December 16, 2013

I for one enjoy reading her stuff from time to time.

As for her uring Scribe, i would guess its probably a reasonable 40-50% proof so a worthy tipple!

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Surtac ducks in to say...

Posted December 16, 2013

Helen is a national treasure. Just don't tell her I said that.

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Dino not to be confused with would have you know...

Posted December 16, 2013

I still like 'Achey Breaky Heart".

BUT I DON"T LINE DANCE!!!!!!!!!

"WOOOOOO OH HOOOOOOOO!"

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Anthony reckons...

Posted December 16, 2013

Fond though I am of Ms Razer this inner city trendy urban dweller of three score and more must disagree on one point.

Some food trucks rock! Good tacos and great burgers come from them - but not, most emphatically not, the gumbo - not even accompanied by a prime vintage of eau de Razer.

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NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 16, 2013

Sir

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BigWillieStyle is gonna tell you...

Posted December 17, 2013

"But, really they’re just providing an elaborate rationale to show pictures of that Tennessee teen’s vagina AGAIN"

And good for them, I say.

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Quokka mumbles...

Posted December 17, 2013

Ah. The light that would not shine so bright, were it not for the scribe tweeting pictures of fish tacos.

Well done on your inspiration to her genius, JB.

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Brother PorkChop asserts...

Posted December 17, 2013

Hipster food trucks? Maybe in Melbourne but in Brizbekistan, ours are a bit more aged. We have a regular visit to the carpark by the steamed bun food truck and after finally trying it, I must say it was pretty bloody good. And it was made by a middle aged man, his wife and their teenage son who was on school holidays. Not a hipster in sight.

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Quokka reckons...

Posted December 17, 2013

Yup. Like the brother said, all we have in Vagus is Mr. Whippy.

We did see one in WA about a month ago as we were driving through Bunbury. Curry truck. Run by a very chic looking Indian guy. He had a crowd around him so I'm guessing it was good.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted December 17, 2013

"I would drink a cup of her urine..."

I could arrange that, John, if you truly wished it to be so.

Dino not to be confused with mumbles...

Posted December 17, 2013

Tastes Like Mead.

NBlob puts forth...

Posted December 17, 2013

Mz Razor's urine would taste of the crushed fascists, homophobes & misogynists She dines on. Acidic, with hints of inchor.

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Respond to 'Helen Razer's Bad Year'

Six reasons you will totally be crushing it as journalists in your bright and shining future

Posted December 13, 2013 into Writing by John Birmingham

I dropped into my old campus last night to say a few words to the graduating class of the Journalism school. It's always best to keep these things light and general, I think. And because we now live in the Buzzfeed Age, to do them as listicles with an upworthy title.

so:

Six reasons you will totally be crushing it as journalists in your bright and shining future.



1. The internet is not death of the news media, it is the rebirth. When the free press was born, midwifed into being by Benjamin Franklin among others, it looked nothing like the massive media empires which now dominate the planet even as they struggle through their very own extinction level event. The free press once looked like something a lot closer to early days of the blogosphere, with an army of amateurs, some gifted, most hapless, doing whatever the hell they wanted, talking to small audiences about the stuff that interested them. That Golden Age of Reportage you heard about? You're standing in it.


2. Yes, a wave of destruction is sweeping across the media ecosphere, but that shouldn’t bother you, because you are the small and nimble mammals in this tale, not the lumbering old dinosaurs. Do you personally have billions of dollars tied up in depreciating assets like printing presses? Are you burdened by massive, archaic infrastructure like newsrooms in legacy buildings echoing with the footsteps of ghosts? No? Then get out there and tuck yourself in just behind the blast wave that is sweeping over the industry and enjoy picking over the fallen carcasses and piles of rubble. The pickin's will be rich.

3. The technology that destroys, also creates. It was once impossible to set up a newspaper unless you had a lazy hundred million lying around. That’s why newspapers tended to be owned by blokes with a lazy hundred million lying around. That’s why newspapers tended to represent the interests and protect the power of blokes with a lazy hundred million, or more, lying around. Are you one of these fine fellows? If so, see me after and we’ll discuss the large unsecured loan you’re about to advance me. If not, then revel in the fact that there are NO BARRIERS to entering the marketplace of ideas any more. You don’t even need a cheap laptop and smart phone, although that would be a start because with that technology you have more information processing power available to you than the entire planet could have called on when Rupert Murdoch first published The Australian. You don’t need a newsroom. You need to get off your arses and go find some stories. Then you need to tell them. People will listen.

4. Your weakness, it is your strength. Most of you are young. You have no assets. Little income. Scant investment of time yet in your trade. This is an excellent state of affairs and I am envious of you. You have nothing to lose and a whole world conquer. You can hazard it all on one throw of the dice, and if you crap out pick up the damned dice and throw again and again and again. You are not defeated, you cannot lose, until you decide to leave the game. And this game was old when clay tablets where the hot new tech. Don’t think of yourself as baby journalists or cadet reporters, you are more than that. You are story tellers and the tools you have to tell those stories would have seemed to old Ben Franklin as magical artefacts. He doesn’t want to hear your whining about Google breaking the business model. He just wants the fucking copy.

5. The fear you sense from your elders is real. Use it against them. So terrified of new media is the old that they forgot the lesson of Obi Wan. If a News Limited columnist strikes you down, you can only return, more powerful than before. If and when you find yourself in a death struggle with some Sith Lord of the old order, remember that their fear is form of respect. They see in you their doom. Do not disappoint them on that score.

6. And finally, remember it is not about you. it is not about the medium, it is not even about the audience. It is always about the story. You serve the story now. You serve the truth as you discover it. You should be most skeptical of the truth you most want to hear. But seek it, find it, and take it to the world. Someone out there wants to know.


And so, you are done here now. You are journalists. That means that first we drink! And tomorrow you seek the truth.

17 Responses to ‘Six reasons you will totally be crushing it as journalists in your bright and shining future’

Blarkon mumbles...

Posted December 13, 2013

Artfully avoided "however, when it comes to actually getting paid" and "until they start selling journalist insurance, defamation law will sqush independent journalists faster than falling into a neutron star without a solar parachute".

Bringing truth to the ill-informed is a noble pursuit, but gold plated hovercraft don't fall out of the sky.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted December 13, 2013

Graduation speeches aren't for specifics. But if I wanted to go into specifics I'd start looking at all the small niche outfits that are starting up and employing half a dozen or less journos to cover specific fields. There are hundreds of them in Oz alone. Thousand in the US. Will most succeed? No. But then most print publications traditionally failed and failed quickly. And the idea of independent electronic media start ups wasn't even possible when I was kicking off. Closest thing you had was subscription community radio.

General news by large commerical operators? Nope. It doesn't have any future in its current form. That's partly why NewsCorpse is attacking public broadcasting here and in the UK, trying to clean out a competitor with an 'unfair' advantage.

But specialist reportage, be it tech reporting, 'wimmins issues' or blogs covering the very important developments in craft and home decorating which are issue for both teh mens and teh wimmins damnit, that stuff is thriving. In fact its being done better by small start ups than it ever was by the mainstream

That's why I made the mammal reference. These guys are the tiny furry little citters scrambling about in the rubble of the asteroid impact. They will evolve into something different, sure, but that's still survival.

Dino not to be confused with reckons...

Posted December 13, 2013

Show me the fkn money honey

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Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 13, 2013

They can't handle the truth, can they?

They're fucked. Right?

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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BigWillieStyle mumbles...

Posted December 13, 2013

In addition to receiving a degree, were the graduates also given a pork pie hat with a card saying "Press" inserted into the hatband?

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted December 13, 2013

makes me wish I was a budding young journalist.

Whatagot for a middle aged, mid level state based public servant?

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted December 13, 2013

Gimme a few minutes, I'll spin something up.

Abe Frellman has opinions thus...

Posted December 14, 2013

This is an interesting theme, actually. In a country where the loss of 3000 jobs in car manufacturing is considered a human tragedy but the loss of 30,000 jobs in the public service is considered a good start, I'm wondering what speech you'd give to a cohort of well educated, experienced public servants staring down the barrel of oblivion.

Why is it that public servants are held in such high esteem in other countries, particularly in Asia, yet here they are perceived to be worth less than something you'd scrape off your shoe?

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w from brisbane mutters...

Posted December 13, 2013

There are a lot of journalism graduates and they have my respect and good wishes.

But, I would say, most journalism graduates will not get a job in journalism.
This is like a lot of university courses. I have a science degree and, like most of my fellow graduates, I have never had a job in science.

I would also say, most journalism graduates will not get a job in writing. Though possibly more might get a job creating content for large non-media organisations, than for media organisations.

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Darth Greybeard ducks in to say...

Posted December 13, 2013

I wish you'd given my graduation address. Of course if you had, it would have been along the lines of, "Agah, pfffft, goo-goo. Don make poo-poo." That would still have been an improvement though.

JG swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 13, 2013

D'oh!! Pasted that last comment three times. How umberembrassssing.

BigWillieStyle asserts...

Posted December 13, 2013

Don't worry Joanna, it was a nice post.

Don't worry Joanna, it was a nice post.

Don't worry Joanna, it was a nice post.

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JG has opinions thus...

Posted December 13, 2013

A nice, encouraging speech, Birmo. I let my daughter, Tina, know about it. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Creative and Professional Writing) from the Queensland Institute of Technology last week.

She'll do well because she's hard working, smart, sociable, and talented.

I didn't do much with my Master of Arts (Writing, Editing, and Publishing) from a The University of Queensland. I graduated in 2008 and spent 2-3 years trying to get work in publishing, but nothing came of it. I got a few months worth of freelance writing and editing jobs from a couple of online publishers and then they went: one company restructuring and the writers I'd replaced returning from leave. I tried my hand at creative writing for my own amusement. In short, I don't write anymore and I've cut myself off from writing circles.

Tina, however, has better prospects. She's had paid work unrelated to writing since she was 14 and now works full time in a five-star hotel and got employee of the month a couple of months ago. She knows how to work hard and gets along with people. She's creative, positive, savvy, and is going to start up her own independent magazine (literary, flash fiction).

I'm an old dinosaur and dons me lid to the graduating youngsters. They'll do well in these daunting yet exciting times.

Good luck to all the writers out there!

A nice, encouraging speech, Birmo. I let my daughter, Tina, know about it. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Creative and Professional Writing) from the Queensland Institute of Technology last week.

She'll do well because she's hard working, smart, sociable, and talented.

I didn't do much with my Master of Arts (Writing, Editing, and Publishing) from a The University of Queensland. I graduated in 2008 and spent 2-3 years trying to get work in publishing, but nothing came of it. I got a few months worth of freelance writing and editing jobs from a couple of online publishers and then they went: one company restructuring and the writers I'd replaced returning from leave. I tried my hand at creative writing for my own amusement. In short, I don't write anymore and I've cut myself off from writing circles.

Tina, however, has better prospects. She's had paid work since she was 14 and now works full time in a five-star hotel. Who knows. She might end up on PR or events or.,. who knows. She might even live overseas and teach English for a year.

A nice, encouraging speech, Birmo. I let my daughter, Tina, know about it. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Creative and Professional Writing) from the Queensland Institute of Technology last week.

She'll do well because she's hard working, smart, sociable, and talented.

I didn't do much with my Master of Arts (Writing, Editing, and Publishing) from a The University of Queensland. I graduated in 2008 and spent 2-3 years trying to get work in publishing, but nothing came of it. I got a few months worth of freelance writing and editing jobs from a couple of online publishers and then they went: one company restructuring and the writers I'd replaced returning from leave. I tried my hand at creative writing for my own amusement. In short, I don't write anymore and I've cut myself off from writing circles.

Tina, however, has better prospects. She's had paid work since she was 14 and now works full time in a five-star hotel.

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NBlob mutters...

Posted December 13, 2013

The will always be an appetite for stories well told. The questions for me are:

Will punters pay? Because as SWMBO points out without paying clients that thing that you do is not a job, its a hobby.

Do Joe & Wendy Sixpack's taste extend beyond DIET SHOCK BRITTANY in SEX ROMP WITH NAZI ALIEN!! ?

Dino not to be confused with is gonna tell you...

Posted December 13, 2013

I am pretty bad.

I haven't paid wiki whatever anything yet stll use their service.

yeah I feel like a cheap prick but I have started paying for some other services.

I have started.

This weekend I will pay wikipedia, let me think about this I want to be fair and still eat, 50 dollars.

There I fkn said it in my 2 beer stupor.

Fk I hate me.

Own worst enemy...

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted December 13, 2013

You're a good man, Charlie Brown.

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Respond to 'Six reasons you will totally be crushing it as journalists in your bright and shining future'

The Brit

Posted November 27, 2013 into Writing by John Birmingham

I looked up from my second martini the other night and realized I'd just taken out a year-long subscription to the Encyclopaedia Britannica's online service. I had my reasons, I suppose, but they don't seem as cast iron now as they did when I handed over my credit card details.

Still, I suppose I'll keep it. At least for a year. See how it works out.

I was finding that when helping with the kids' homework and essay assignments I was increasingly turning to Wikipedia to do that first shallow, skimming run across the surface of a topic. (Oh Tokugawa Ieayasu, how could I ever have forgotten about your exciting Shogunate?) You can't rely on it, and you certainly can't cite it of course, but for the basics, and especially for noncontroversial topics I've always found it to be pretty good. In fact I seem to recall reading a magazine article a couple of years ago where it stacked up pretty well against Britannica in a blind test.

Still, for six or seven bucks a month, it seemed a pretty fair deal to get access to a resource they can cite and I can rely on for my own work.

It's funny, though. I doubt I'd have bothered to subscribe if I hadn't had so many years of using Wikipedia for free. I think it must be because I've come to value it as a resource, at the same time as I've come to understand its limitations; and quite severe limitations they can be at times. Having your own Wikipedia page which is regularly wrong will speed you along this path.

Anyway, it's done now. If somebody who reminds me in a year or so I'll let you know how the experiment went.

16 Responses to ‘The Brit’

Bondiboy66 ducks in to say...

Posted November 27, 2013

My wife - who was formerly a librarian and is tertiary qualified as a law librarian - jokingly refers to Wikipedia as 'The Authoritve Literature'.

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insomniac would have you know...

Posted November 27, 2013

I use Wikipedia as a source for more keywords for a search. Even if some of them are dodgy I still consider them one way of people referring to something, and in patent literature they make up words left, right and centre in order to obscure ideas from people like me. Imagine one K Rudd on wordliness-inducing pharmaceutically active compounds comprising four condensed cycloalkane rings.

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Murphy asserts...

Posted November 27, 2013

Hmm, next to my desk, as I type, sits an old school batch of Encyclopedia Britannicas. I still use them from time to time for one thing or another, especially given that the general facts of most historical events do not change much over time. More to the point, the mid 1980s version seems to have far more meat to it than the final print copy which came out a while back.

I also have a set of World Books which dates from 1945. Some of their historical articles, to include the ones on the American Civil War, are quite detailed. They are also quaint in their own, dated, politically incorrect way of describing things.

Wiki for me is a general gateway to get to what I really need, usually verified by reference sources at the wiki page in question. Google handles other matters along with a fairly heavy dose of Global Security.org. For Soviet Era weapons I rely on the U.S. Army's Soviet Army field manual. For other matters military I have other manuals. When it drives outside of my expertise range I start asking people who are currently in uniform.

The one weak spot seems to be law enforcement material. For that I use Howdunit, a writer's guide to crime fiction but it can be incredibly vague on some matters.

Lastly, a good source is YouTube, especially if I want to know how something behaves or looks in action.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

Lulu puts forth...

Posted November 27, 2013

"They are also quaint in their own, dated, politically incorrect way of describing things."

Heh, we used to have a set of 'Arthur Mee's Children's Encyclopedia' which did a lot of the same kind of thing, in a terribly British Empire, pith-helmet & pink-gin kind of way. It had been my mother's (and her brothers') in the 1950s.

Bondiboy66 is gonna tell you...

Posted November 28, 2013

My parents sprung for the Brit in the 70s, which came with the Childrens Brittanica as well, which ended up residing in my room. I loved those books when I was young, and fair read the print off them. They too were terribly British, with quaint 50s style language and illustrations.

Surtac asserts...

Posted November 28, 2013

I still have a copy of Cassell's Encyclopaedia which was a gift from my godfather when I was a child. Eight volumes of circa 1900-1910 goodness, pre-WWI and all, predicted a very different rosy future for us all. It didn't turn out that way at all.

Still, as they say, the past is a foreign country.

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Miss Maudy puts forth...

Posted November 27, 2013

I'm a reseacher in my day job - I like Mr Wikipedia because it's always a good starting point, specially if you head straight to the references at the bottom, and it can send you on some delicious wild goose chases that end up in some interesting albeit not exactly where you intended places. Most of the stuff I am looking at is fairly simple and uncontroversial though (unless you're a used car salesman, but that's a whole other tale).

Last thing I subscribed to was toilet paper.

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Barnesm asserts...

Posted November 27, 2013

I think the 'blind test' to which you refer is this one Brimo and to be fair it only compared science entries. But you do raise a good question, how much would I be willing to pay for such a reasource - I always donate $20 to wiki when they run their fundraiser.

But as a reference that the_weapon can quote at school. a couple of $$ a month seams reasonable, but the problem is that it feels unfair when you compare the total cost over a few years even at $10/month, $120/year after 12 years thats $1440. Whereas how much would set on the shelves set you back. But then you need to get and check the addedum each year.... but at to that the ease of online searching, mmm.....

methinks I need to discuss with my_reason_for_living what we should set aside and commit to an ongoing spending each year for online family subscriptions to an encyclopaedia probably Britannica, Dictionary, and Atlas perhaps ones that provide an endnote fucntionality to set up the bibliography for any work done.

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Surtac mutters...

Posted November 27, 2013

I should investigate that.

I ponied up for the cd/dvd version a few years back and thought it was reasonable value at the time - it certainly sh*t all over M$ Encarta.

Youngest Daughter is doing more research stuff for school these days, and with Eldest Daughter heading to Uni, we probably need more up-to-date citable reference tools.

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Anthony mutters...

Posted November 27, 2013

Wikipedia is an amazingly useful tool for things like dates or "what is the capital of North Munterland?". I find it good for all the stuff I once knew but have forgotten due to advancing years.

I have a mid-80's Brittanica and a 30 odd volume of Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Encylopaedia of 1937. One of the joys of such a thing is opening it at random and finding an authoritative article on some truly obscure person or place.

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robW asserts...

Posted November 28, 2013

Once upon a time I had a big stack of British pounds sterling and bought a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). This wasn't one of those reduced, facsimile editions that came with a magnifying glass, this was the full boat: fifteen volumes including the 'A' and 'H' supplements, along with the 1933 supplement. These tomes--yes, they were real tomes--bent more than one shelf of my bookcase, and the contents provided the historical citations I needed for verication to become a Reader of Technology at the Royal Academy in London. I bought the last two supplements, 'O' and 'Se' when they came out, but never had the disposable income or interest to buy the combined second edition or subscribe to the online version.

I've read (probably in Wikipedia, so who knows whether it is true) that the pyramid of Khufu is about 50 stories high and took a generation to build. The OED and Britannica were similar. They took generations to build, the were constructed by sweat and toil rather than algorithms, and they required a keen focus because the light at the end of the tunnel was so far away it looked like Betelgeuse.

These days the OED, Britannica, and yes, Wikipedia are revised by the hour if not minute and second. The gratification between inception and deployment might as well be instant. Even 'Big Science' these days has a short attention span: the Large Hadron Collider took ten years. The really big future event for space exploration is the decommissioning of ISS in 2020, nevermind anything that has a scope extending beyond a decade, much less a generation or two.

It seems only vintners still have the attention span to undertake something that won't get into stride for 25 or 50 years, and there are only a few of them. The more technically advanced we become the more near sighted our vision.

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Brother PorkChop asserts...

Posted November 28, 2013

I wrote a paper on the Tokugawa era some time in the 80s (when we were force fed Japan as No.1 and similar crap)

I believe, without reference, that the Tokugawa era kind of began with the battle of Sekigahara in 1600 - Tokugawa v Toyotomi with the Tokugawa led by Ieyasu Tokugawa. And that is it. Still it was from 30 years ago.

Can I ask off this thread - does anyone else experience the end of year doldrums, tantrums and other assorted happy holidays shit? I seem to always experience the best and worse in people at this time of the year and I put it down to simply that - the end of the calendar year sends many folk around the twist.

w from brisbane has opinions thus...

Posted November 28, 2013

Xmas is my least favourite time of year.
It is too darned hot.
The bars are full of shreiking people (i.e. amateurs).
'Pressure' is probably the keyword of Xmas.
Pressure to attend. Pressure to ritually affirm your place in a suddenly dizzyingly complex network of needy human relationships.
How did that happen?
And, by the way, the 'fun' is Compulsory. It's horrible.
Then again, I'm a bloke and I sometimes think there are gender issues involved here.

Brother PorkChop mumbles...

Posted November 29, 2013

I am having a series of team problems at the moment and it's giving me the absolute shits. And all I can put it down to is that it is THAT time of the year. My team, our department, the group as a whole and then our working with internal customers - all gone down the crapper in a 2 week period!!

w from brisbane mutters...

Posted November 29, 2013

Yep, some people do get that 'normal rules don't apply' excitement as Xmas approaches. Which is hard to entirely begrudge.
Though a mate of mine used to insist that the 'being responsible' part of the year ended on Melbourne Cup day. Then it was pens down and party until the New Year. I'd tell him that I thought he was going off a little ahead of most people. He couldn't see it.

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Murphy mumbles...

Posted November 29, 2013

As late as the mid 1990s I was hearing the, "Japan will overcome all," in my classes, particularly an International Relations class I took as part of a poli-sci minor I never finished (mainly because the Poli Sci Division Chair at Park University is a first rate prick). Funny that I took that class in 1995 when everyone was going on about Asian Tigers and by 1997 it was all falling apart.

A good work on Japan worth reading is Japan's War by Edwin P. Hoyt.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Respond to 'The Brit'

An open letter to freelancers about not getting fucked in the head holes by Crikey

Posted November 11, 2013 into Writing by John Birmingham

I'd have been a lot swearier if I'd drafted this letter, but that's just me.

Freelancers and current, past and future Crikey contributors:

Today, Crikey is launching a new arts website called The Daily Review. It has no contributor budget.

We are writing to ask you not to contribute to it for free, and to tell you why we won't be doing so ourselves.
This is about fairness, and recognition of the value the work of arts writers has contributed to a publication we are immensely proud to write for. It's about beginning a discussion. To that end, we have CCed Crikey's editor Jason Whittaker, The Daily Review's editor Raymond Gill, and Private Media CEO Marina Go and Chairman Eric Beecher on this email.
Crikey's arts, entertainment and culture coverage was always an extra, an add-on, a side street. Thanks largely to Jason's championing of the coverage, it's now a big deal: it's a large enough piece of the Crikey pie that it's getting its own website, with a significant investment of money. The Daily Review already has a paid full-time editor, and a paid full-time journalist.

Crikey's arts coverage has, until now, been on its blogs. Crikey bloggers are paid on a sliding bonus scale. (Those contributing to Curtain Call may not even be aware of this, given the blog's multi-voiced nature.)

Some Crikey blogs make money. Some even hit the high end of this scale every month. If you've blogged for Crikey, you may have been regularly paid for your work or you may have never seen a cent.
The bonus system—one that values content based on the audience it attracts, a flawed system that doesn't value writers or writing—was at least a nod to the worth of the content it rewarded.

Not paying contributors (and the based-on-pageviews payment scale) made a degree of sense before. Now it looks like an organisation getting greedy. At its launch, and at least until the end of the current financial year, The Daily Review has no contributor budget at all.
(Some existing Crikey arts blogs will remain in their current form, with their content syndicated on The Daily Review and in its twice-weekly email iterations. Pageviews on Daily Review will not count toward bonus payments.)

Contributors to the Crikey subscriber email are paid per piece, at rates starting at $150, regardless of word length. Crikey considers their writing to be worth money, but not yours. The contributor budget for the daily email runs to tens of thousands of dollars every month.
For those of you who've been writing for Crikey for years now, the announcement of an arts portal should have been an exciting thing; it should have meant money in your pocket—financial recognition of the contribution you've made to the Crikey brand. Instead, it's a slap in the face. Your work has made Crikey's arts coverage the go-to destination it has become; without it, The Daily Review would be an unimaginable proposition.
The switch to an aggregated arts site means that, for contributors, there will be no bonus scheme in place. If you choose to contribute to The Daily Review, you will be writing for free, and you will be doing so for a website that makes money. You will be doing so for a website that pays over $100,000 a year in salaries to its two staff, but pays you nothing.
It is ethically reprehensible for a company to expand and actually stop paying the people who produce its product. A company which asks its readers to pay for content doesn't feel the same obligation when it comes to its writers.
In a statement on Mumbrella, Jason Whittaker described The Daily Review as "an unashamedly commercial venture" and "fertile advertising ground". The Daily Review will make money.

The Daily Review's success depends on its content. If you can't afford content, you cant afford to launch an arts website. If you can't afford to launch an arts website, don't launch one.
Crikey is the only site of its size and scope that regularly publishes large amounts of content by unpaid writers. Indeed, there are far smaller sites that pay their contributors; Junkee, Mamamia, The King's Tribune, Writers Bloc, SameSame and Mess+Noise all pay for the pieces they publish. Contributors to Daily Review should be paid, and they should be paid at the same rates as regular Crikey contributors: a flat rate, starting at $150 per piece.
Arts journalism is a small pond, and it's likely you will be asked to contribute to The Daily Review at some point, as the number of writers willing to give their work away shrinks. Don't work for free.
By refusing to volunteer for a for-profit media organisation, you're beginning a conversation about your value. If that value is zero, there are other outlets that will pay you for your work.
Please feel free to forward this email.
Sincerely,

Byron Bache, Laurence Barber and Bethanie Blanchard
with John Birmingham, A.H. Cayley, Sam Cooney, Paul Donoughue, Daniel Dalton, James Douglas, Lisa Dempster, Ben Eltham, Clementine Ford, Daniel Golding, Amy Gray, Rebecca Harkins-Cross, Elmo Keep, Brodie Lancaster, Patrick Lenton, Brendan Maclean, Jess McGuire, Kat Muscat, Roger Nelson, Josh Nelson, Lefa Singleton Norton, Connor Tomas O'Brien, Geoff Orton, Karen Pickering, Judith Ridge, Rochelle Siemienowicz,Ellena Savage, Rachel Short, Matthew Sini, Angie Smith, Andrew Stafford, Peter Taggart, Sam Twyford-Moore, Alex Sol Watts, Stella Young

45 Responses to ‘An open letter to freelancers about not getting fucked in the head holes by Crikey’

w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted November 11, 2013

Slaves of the Internet, Unite! by Tim Kreider, in the New York Times, is a good recent piece with a similar theme.

"I beseech you, don’t give it away. As a matter of principle. Do it for your colleagues, your fellow artists, because if we all consistently say no they might, eventually, take the hint. It shouldn’t be professionally or socially acceptable — it isn’t right — for people to tell us, over and over, that our vocation is worthless."

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/opinion/sunday/slaves-of-the-internet-unite.html

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted November 11, 2013

Nice quote.

I'm not an arts writer, so I was never gonna to be affected by this, but it's such a douche move it needs a call out.

I think the line that sums it up is "If you can't afford to launch an arts website, don't launch one."

w from brisbane ducks in to say...

Posted November 11, 2013

Yep.

And, paraphrasing a point in the Tim Kreider piece....
They say, don't worry about the money, think of the exposure.
"Writer dies of exposure" goes the rueful joke.

Trowzers swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 11, 2013

There is a whole twitter account dedicated to stupid requests that artists do things free 'for exposure' - https://twitter.com/forexposure_txt

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Barnesm reckons...

Posted November 11, 2013

Wasn't the fear that some would work and choose to be paid little or nothing one of the driving reasons people formed unions?

I hope that this behviour by companies continues to be opposed until a just system is in place.

Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many — they are few - Percy Bysshe Shelley

damian is gonna tell you...

Posted November 11, 2013

'Servile masses, arise, arise!'

Damn, gonna have that stuck in my head all day now.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted November 11, 2013

Yeah, I hate when that happens.

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Lulu ducks in to say...

Posted November 11, 2013

Unless something has changed recently, I'm not so sure that Mamamia pays its contributors - or at least, not all of them.

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Matthew is gonna tell you...

Posted November 11, 2013

Someone posted this to reddit and got accused of being you:

http://www.reddit.com/r/australia/comments/1qbtfr/an_open_letter_to_freelancers_about_not_getting/

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Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted November 11, 2013

Pretty sad when I think that I got paid ten to thirty bucks per article during my grad school days at the campus paper. Meals comped if I reviewed a restaurant, books comped if I reviewed a book, and the movie guy got his movies comped.

If I'm giving it away, I am giving it away at my own blog.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted November 11, 2013

Fuck fairness and equity. This is my big chance to finally publish my novel Sex Slaves of the Congo - rejected soundly by the lamestream publishing establishment - in serialized form. This is finally my chance to prove that I write good.

insomniac reckons...

Posted November 11, 2013

I might be mistaken, but isn't that the subtitle for the how-to guide for catlick priests?

Blarkon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 11, 2013

The bit with the parrot and the bongos was sublime. It transcends erotica.

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Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 11, 2013

Fkn oath Paul. Fkn publishers wouldn't know a good serialised yarn even if it urinated on their Jimmy Choos and made vigorous love to their Variabl Balans kneeling chairs. Publish!

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted November 11, 2013

Oh, shall. But I need a good pseudonym. I am leaning towards writing under the name Dirk Flintstone. It is similar to another writer, but rumor has it he is some sort of survivalist doomsday prepper and I am confident he will never find out.

Blarkon ducks in to say...

Posted November 11, 2013

I thought you were going with Dirk Heartflint?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted November 11, 2013

I rejected that option on the grounds that it sounds just a touch too gay. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

damian is gonna tell you...

Posted November 11, 2013

I can see that, but what's wrong with Dick Flinthard? Other than being a porn name, I mean...

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w from brisbane reckons...

Posted November 11, 2013

"This morning Crikey spiked a commissioned, and paying, article Blanchard was doing on author Christos Tsiolkas." 11/11/2013

Blanchard being a signatory to the open letter above.
*Sigh*

Lulu mumbles...

Posted November 11, 2013

Sheesh. I wish I was a Crikey subscriber, just so that I could have the pleasure of cancelling it & telling them why.

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Therbs ducks in to say...

Posted November 11, 2013

I dunno. I understand that not only could he origami you into the shape of a platypus but that he's also fiercely protective of his brand. He uses tiger snakes to guard his documents and wedge tailed eagles to carry messages. And those messages are of ruthless smiting and cracking desserts.

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Blarkon asserts...

Posted November 11, 2013

One problematic assumption that isn't being addressed is that advertising rates have always trended downwards. What you could get for 100,000 hits 2 years ago is a lot less than you'd get for 100,000 hits today. And what you'll get today will be a lot more than what you'll get in 2 years time.

The model of "write something, publish it on the web, and make your money running advertisements against it" itself is problematic. The amount of content on the internet increases almost exponentially. The same number of advertising dollars spread over more content equals lower rates.

Until the majority of people are willing to pay for content directly, there's no sustainable way to ensure that publications will continue to get funded. If you're a writer and want to get paid - you need to look towards writing for publications that have a more sustainable model than internet advertising.

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beeso is gonna tell you...

Posted November 11, 2013

The content has got to be worth paying for before you keep ponying up. I had a Crikey sub for ages but canned it when they just became the other side of the Andrew Bolt coin.

There is a difference between preaching and good journalism.

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Cam asserts...

Posted November 11, 2013

I've been tossing up whether to cancel my Crikey sub, the response to this issue may well make the decision for me.

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Darryl Mason ducks in to say...

Posted November 11, 2013

If they ran an excerpt, with a prominent link back to writer's own blog or website, maybe contribute for free, but only if the writer retains copyright of anything published.

I'm still waiting to get paid for this piece on The Drum, more than three years later, that's why I didn't contribute again:

http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/33674.html

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Billy C ducks in to say...

Posted November 11, 2013

If the Arts Organisations and producers having their content covered refused to give out comp tickets to any for profit site that does not pay writers then this new venture woudl be over pretty quickly.

Matthew puts forth...

Posted November 12, 2013

Why would they do that, though? They benefit from the free publicity.

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Therbs mutters...

Posted November 11, 2013

Its funny how a mob like Crikey would be the first to be outraged if someone in Australia sold slaves on the open market yet they expect people to work for free.

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w from brisbane reckons...

Posted November 11, 2013

Contributors to the The Daily Racket will not be left empty-handed.
In appreciation, all published content providers will be sent a "Thanks Sucker!" card

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ShaneAlpha would have you know...

Posted November 11, 2013

Makes me glad to stick to that 3000 year old self publishing tradition.

Graffiti! Fuck Yeah!

Tony Abbot sugit caprarum pilis.

Trowzers would have you know...

Posted November 11, 2013

suck goat's hair????

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted November 12, 2013

Yes. "Suck the hair of a goat" is a 13th Century insult based on an activity made fashionable by the charasmatic Pope Celestine V, but became disreputable after his assassination ordered by his successor, Pope Boniface VIII, so as to discredit Celestine's followers.

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Blake mutters...

Posted November 11, 2013

The problem these days is that the supply of writers, amateur, or baby frelancers or whatever far outweighs the number of paid positions. So you get all these 'qualified' journaists who go into other careers (my girlfriend chose nursing as her second degree). And then find themselves with time, that old writing hobby, and a pedestal (which is subtley different to exposure).

So Mamamia doesn't struggle to find free content - and what do the mums care about the sentiments above? Or the baby frelancers working at macca's? the only way to get a real paid writing job is to get good and be noticed. so practice.

The choice you are giving them is don't do that thing you love, don't try to get ahead, keep working at that shit job until one of the big boys retires.

But what about doing the right thing? Capatilism doesn't care.

I read an article (on Mamamia I think) about how our society is devalueing the importance of childern by failing to pay childcare workers at a rate befitting their stature. Their solution? Bigger government subsidies - not bigger minimum wages paid by the users - 'I don't want to have to pay more for the service myself - all you slackers without kids should pay for my child to be looked after whilst i sip lattes.'

Seriously? I must have missed the economics class where they talked about fairness being a driver for wage levels. Why should morals and ethics be any different?

[That was a very bitter and somewhat devils advocatey troll post brought to you by the frusttation of not gettting anywhere fighting a similar moralistic battle in another industry entirely]

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted November 12, 2013

The supply of writers is part of the problem but only a small part. I remember when I was starting out complaining to the editor of a student newspaper, that the artists and photograhers got paid a shitload more than me. He shrugged. "You can't pretend to be an artist," he said. "It's immediately obvious looking at the work, whether you're any good. And only a few people are."

His point was that lots of people could pretend, even to themselves, that they could write. And hell, once or twice, writing about something they know and care about, they can even pull it off. Once or twice. But no more. And even those oncers were rare.

There have always been many, many more would-be writers around than there have been places for them to be published. The internet changed that only in so far as it removed the first barrier to publication, finding an outlet willing to invest. There are no barriers to publication any more. Hundreds of millions of previously unpublishable writers now publish themselves. But that doesn't mean the supply of writers has increased, only the supply of words.

The main problem? Google ate our business model ten years ago. Magazines and newspapers never sold words as their main income stream. They sold ads which paid for the words.

damian asserts...

Posted November 12, 2013

The internet was always going to be the biggest boom in vanity publishing ever. But when (when being the early 90s I guess) the only real stumbling block was that not all consumers would want to do their reading on the scree. But technology has come to the party on that issue.

It almost doesn't make sense to talk about it in those terms anymore... anyone being able to place their writing in the public gaze anytime. However the trappings of submitting a piece to an edited publication, or having a book issued as an edition (even just for Kindle), those surely still have the same sort of emotional significance to those struggling with their graphomania as has always been the case. Those have become very much streamlined... and I suppose there's validation in knowing that people who could get paid to write don't, so if you don't it doesn't mean you're not a really proper writer after all, too. That's just a way of saying the dynamic has changed, and the power.

Ultimately the written universe will be a mile-deep lake of unseakable crap. That's one of the main effects of the new era. What we discover is that the real value traditional publishing added was curation. Editor/curators will certainly dredge the lake of crap for the rare gems, but that will become uneconomic as the crap to gem ratio increases (maybe it already is). It's far easier, once a gem is located, to hit up its author for more stuff. That's where the stand explained in this article is important.

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Blake reckons...

Posted November 11, 2013

oh wait... i have a meaningful contribution too:

http://strobist.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/your-real-estate-agent-would-like-some.html

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tqft has opinions thus...

Posted November 11, 2013

At a slightly higher level

Content economics, part 4: scale

http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2013/11/11/content-economics-part-4-scale/

Parts 1, 2 & 3 are linked at the bottom of the (long piece).

Starts with a specific case - the merger of 2 companies I have never heard of but are apparently things.

Anyway essentially it is the the get big or die argument.

"

Glam started out as an ad network, basically. It would find publishers, mainly in the women’s-lifestyle space, and would do deals with them whereby it would sell ads on their sites. By aggregating a large number of sites, and starting a few of its own, Glam managed to achieve the kind of scale which advertisers demanded.

Along the way, Glam acquired an enormous stable of bloggers and writers — who were not only micro-publishers in their own right, but who were also creating some great content which deserved to be placed in front of a much larger audience. So Glam created a system whereby writers, photographers and other content providers could see their work appear on sites throughout the Glam network — and get paid every time that happened."

Article also stresses the importance of good technology. If you are going to service millions smoothly, it has to be good.

Some of which I agree with. I think part of the reason the media wars are so brutal is to try and kill off the competition so that when advertising rates recover or at least stop trending down and audiences grow, the survivors are going to be cash cows.

There will always be niches, but surfacing them is going to be tough.

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Rob would have you know...

Posted November 12, 2013

About 20 years ago a wise cameraman I used to work with pointed out to me that if I keep working for free all I would be known as is the guy who works for free. He was totally right, I would work for free, others would know and I would get all the 'good experience' jobs , while the more demanding guys would get sustainable long term work. It was in the end, totally stupid and I had to give up working for free or otherwise.

As far as writing goes, there are a bunch of part time/casual acadamics who will happily write for free anywhere so they can pad out their CVs. I have seen some real rubbish published on their own blogs claimed as being 'published'. These crap academics in the university sector would be the real compitition for professional writers in Crikey's business model. Crikey would know this, all those post grads making content to pad out their CVs in the hope of getting a real salary job sometime in the future.

I got stuff to say but no idea if someone would ever pay me for it.

Murphy is gonna tell you...

Posted November 12, 2013

Speaking as a part time academic, I prefer to pad my CV with legitimate publications and consultanting credits that included a small payment for services rendered.

In other words, I ain't writin' fer free.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

Rob mutters...

Posted November 12, 2013

I have a few bones to pick with Fine Arts academics and the Art industry is piss poor with their contracts, bailments, work for hire and copyright issues.

Its totally right to get paid for your work, but sometimes I just give it away so I can make space. Ironically people who might get free stuff from me sometimes ask for paintings to be in different colours to match their decor.

Damned if you do damned if you don't.

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Dick puts forth...

Posted November 12, 2013

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/business/media-and-marketing/pay-writers-or-well-pull-ads-national-library-tells-arts-website-20131112-2xdix.html

Seems to be getting a response, but no revenue means no ability to pay?

Lulu is gonna tell you...

Posted November 12, 2013

Well, if no paying means no revenue, maybe they'll rethink their position on the no paying?

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Spleen Vent is gonna tell you...

Posted November 12, 2013

I think this should be referred to as "parasite media" from now on .....

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Terrible people making awesome art

Posted November 8, 2013 into Writing by John Birmingham

While I edit this week's Spartcast, contemplate the latest Incomparable poddy where Jason Snell and friends discussed books and authors wot done them wrong. For me, an awkward and yet utterly compelling trek through a bunch of series and writers turned bad, in one way or another.

I'm not sure whether the discussion was inspired by the upcoming release of Ender's Game on the big screen, but naturally Orson Scott Card's books got a run. Partly because of his raging homophobia, but also because the series itself veers madly between bringing the awesome and the awful, sometimes in the space of one chapter or page.

It featured an exchange between Jason Snell and Lisa Schmeiser which caught my ear, ranging as it did over the question of whether creative professionals should even be on social media.

(Answer: irrelevant. Publishers expect and encourage us all to do more of our own publicity these days. Unless you're JK Rowling, you dont get a choice.)

But still, I appreciated the conversation which turned towards this topic when Schmeiser confessed that the more she learned about Neil Gaiman, the more warped became the lens through which she viewed his work.

Snell: "Oh for the days when you would get a book and you would see a name on the cover and know nothing about who this person was, and you would just read the book and it was completely free of context."

Schmeiser: "This is why so many TV show runners leave Twitter. I think its best for all involved when creative people don't enage with their audience on that level. I worry that it creates the kind of feedback loop where the audience becomes contemptuous of this person. Like Omigod this person whose book I idolised has feet of clay... Burn him! And I feel it also introduces a level of anxiety or even second guessing into a creative professionals process. It changes their voice and it changes the quality of their output. I dont want that. I dont feel like there should be any need to find out what Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer are up to on any given Sunday morning."

It's an interesting question which, as I said above is sort of irrelevant simply because most authors don't get a choice. We're expected to write, then pimp. But other creatives like actors or musicians or TV show producers aren't. Not in the same way.

Or at least I dont think they are. Perhaps Joss Whedon's appearance on Twitter to promo Much Ado says otherwise.

Anyway, curious as to what you consumers of all this creation think.

16 Responses to ‘Terrible people making awesome art’

Blarkon reckons...

Posted November 8, 2013

Some still don't. No one knows what Greg Egan looks like. So you don't *have to* engage. Neal Stephenson doesn't - he says that it's simply not worth it from his perspective. Pratchett always did. In his case it's because JRR Tolkein responded to a fan letter of his so he felt that if Tolkein could do it, he would as well. But Pratchett was always a bit of a chameleon in terms of his political views. His characters seem center left, but over the years he's said a few things that suggested he may be a bit more Tory in his quieter moments.

It's a double edged sword. I can think of one example where the author's forum behavior and combativeness have turned me (and judging by the results of a google search) completely off their work. I'll think Card is a shithead for his opinions, but I'll still read his work. This other author I won't touch with a barge pole (this may also be because I've never interacted with Card - when you interact directly with someone, your reaction to them can be more visceral).

I think that in the long run you've got to be intellectually mature enough to figure out when to separate the author from their work. Some authors are polemical - others have views I find stupid or abhorent, but who write books I really like. Some who do infuse their characters with their own views choose not to own it (especially when those views are unpopular).

I think the reaction to Card is in itself worthy of study - I suspect part of it is because a lot of people in the LBGTQ community really loved Ender's Game and finding out that the guy who wrote it is an intollerant fuckbanana is worse than finding out that some guy who has pictures on his website of him in a stetson and holding a variety of automatic weapons collection who writes right wing Team America Fuck Yeah brown people explodapaloza novels is an intollerant fuckbanana.

In the long run though, I guess you've got to manicure your social media presence as much as you do your prose. Piss someone off and they review bomb you on Amazon.

w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted November 8, 2013

There was a good piece in Grantland the other day about one reader's wrestling with the Orson Card issue. It is a fine piece of writing.

"I am neither gay, nor a girl, nor short. I am, however, a Muslim who grew up in Kansas in the 1980s, and I struggle to think of a more perfect recipe for creating a sense of isolation in an American teenager. I literally did not know another practicing Muslim family in Wichita at the time. .........Ender's Game was literally the first time I had encountered a positive portrayal of a Muslim character in American fiction. It floored me. I finally saw a positive image of myself in print"

http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9909314/ender-game-controversial-author-very-personal-history

Blake asserts...

Posted November 8, 2013

I think some writers are better at the social media thing than others

Joss' dabbling is interesting - Much ado was a homegrown project so it makes sense to do self promotion (although his troupe have sufficient following to get the promotion train rollin')

Once he switched to his own account he started to waver between witty anecdotes, professional distance and what I suspect was a little undercurrent of 'please step back you fanatic frothing is getting on my shoes'

After getting into this blog and JB's incessent cross platform work ethic (the Mike Patton of writing?) I was a little dissapointed that other writers I admired didn't have the same knack for audience parlay.

Definately some writers should stay off the Twitter or keep it strictly business - not every writer's voice works out of their medium.

damian is gonna tell you...

Posted November 9, 2013

Egan does maintain his own web site though, complete with java applets he's written to illustrate concepts from his novels. You might expect he'd have handed that over to a publisher years ago. Though I guess I have no idea how well Egan has done from his writing.

damian asserts...

Posted November 9, 2013

By the way w, that's an awesome article and thank you posting the link (I finally got around to reading it, it has been open in a browser tab since yesterday).

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damian is gonna tell you...

Posted November 8, 2013

Sometimes I think we must still be in the 1930s, with Wimsatt and Beardsley and TS fucking Eliot, when people start going on about separating a text from the views of its author and how you can still love some arse like Card without liking his views and stuff. I appreciate it's a case where hsi views just weren't that well known, but yanno the prose itself doesn't have that much to recommend it if you read at least s little bit widely in its era too... so that may just be a matter of what you found first, for a lot of people. And a lot of people are less willing than they should be to credit the things they found first for many of their views... I find the whole thing a bit sad, and would probably prefer to avoid another generation being troubled by such dilemmas.

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w from brisbane asserts...

Posted November 8, 2013

Sorry, this is a bit long and may seem, in parts, off topic.

I love the internet. But I think computers have a lot of sinister results for the poor old employee. I have written about this in the past on the Burger. It feeds on the worst instincts of people who happen to supervise others.
As many social psychology experiments have shown, for about 66% of people; at first, they play the superviser role, then the role starts playing them.

Networked computers give an awful monitoring 'control' to those 'in power'. I have friends who have their work; keystrokes, phone calls, timing etc all recorded. Then, every 4 weeks, they meet their superviser and there is a statistical report of their work broken down into six hundred 15 minute blocks. They have to account for their 'bad' 15 minutes blocks.

Only what can be measured is important. Quantity, not quality. Those who do a lot of bad work quickly are held up as exemplars, despite their bad results for customers and causing rework.

Switching, I generally avoid learning about the personal life of artists. Caraveggio probably murdered two people, but his paintings are extraordinary.

Reportedly, Charles Dickens wasn't very nice to his first wife at the time of their split. And I have heard people say, as a result, they won't read Dickens because he must be sexist. But then, they accidentally read him and are shocked to find all these richly and empathatically drawn women who are key protagonists in his novels.

But bloody computers, the boss wants to own you 24/7. About journalism, Lisa Wilkinson said in her recent Andrew Olle Lecture:

"Certainly, the industry is now taking social media seriously, and media bosses tell me that a journalist's social media following is now a real factor when it comes to hiring and promotion. It's measurable, it's of tangible benefit and value to an employer and it's being viewed by media bosses as your own personal circulation number .

In fact, I know of at least one news boss who will, in the next few months, have a real-time ticker giving him daily updates on the social media following of each of his journalists . . . from re-tweets, to Facebook shares, to Instagram likes, to the white knuckle ride of that widget that tells you how many people are reading your article RIGHT NOW. He believes this will be the ultimate test: how many readers is each journalist driving to the paper's website . . . and the toll-gates at that all-important paywall."

damian mumbles...

Posted November 8, 2013

Basically there is a difference between saying how things might be if we were all nice to each other, and not being very nice to the people closest to you. We have all been there: do as I say, not as I do. Some folks might have been fortunate enough to be in a position to remain exemplary, most of us spend enough time rolling in the mud, even just of indecision, to know that's a privileged stance and not a real one, even if you believe you are taking it you are probably fooling yourself. I don't think anyone would say this invalidates saying how much better things might be if we were a bit nicer to each other.

Then there's the but about being of one's time. I don't think that's much of an excuse for Dickens, because I am pretty sure when he acted like a bounder he was pretty damn well aware he was doing that. What he didn't say is that a whole category of people shouldn't exist, by existing they are bad and for existing we should punish them. Even in his time. And I don't see how anyone can take seriously someone who does say that, on any subject.

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Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 9, 2013

In my experience with the American Science Fiction Community, it works like this.

If you are left of center, you can be a complete and total dickhead without fear of any real consequence. You can falsely accuse people of anything ending with an ist, ism or phobia. You can make veiled comments about their politics and personal life. In fact, you can pretty much say that they are the personification of all evil and at the very least must be prevented from publishing again.

In fact, if you are left of center and prone to being an intolerant asshole in American SF, you'll be encouraged to behave this way.

If you are right of center and merely disagree, then they'll do to you what they did to Card. In fact, these days I pretty much stay away from most SF forums in the US because Fail Fandom is constantly having one brain cramp after another.

On the other hand, Neal Asher, a conservative SF writer based in the UK, said it best.

To paraphrase, "If I read only the works of people I agreed with, I'd have missed out on a great deal of great work."

As for me, I tend to be a notoriously impatient reader. If the writer starts to preach and pander then I usually put the book down.

I've also come to the conclusion that some writers, particularly some US SF/Fantasy writers, are among the most intolerant people I've ever encountered.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

damian mumbles...

Posted November 9, 2013

When people think and act as a group it often is not pretty, even when the outcome isn't a bad thing. It always seems to include effects like facilitated aggression, where a high-status group member starts it off and group members vie for status based on how well they emulate of surpass the original criticism. And that isn't half as sinister as the episodes where the status appears to be measured in terms of adherence to the group creed.

But this in-versus-out-group behaviour is part of the human condition, it is effectively content neutral as far as politics goes. I suppose folks from the libertarian right might put up an argument that their individualist focus is counter to this, but it doesn't really hold up to scrutiny - few groups remind me of the Life of Brian's "Yes, we are all individuals!" as they do. Are the left really more gregarious?

I don't see it. That doesn't mean much I could just consistently miss some subtle thing there, but I see the group stuff all the time from all comers. For those of us who are lifelong outsiders, the challenge is to shift one's perspective from prey to pastoralist.

As for the stuff with Card: if it were merely disagreement that might be a different story; for the particular views he expresses, I am simply not very interested in the sort of thinking this suggests in general, and substantially less so in specifically the sort that might go into a bildungsroman. I don't say no-one else should read it, merely that I don't see a reason to. Sometimes you do anyway to see what the fuss is about, but then it's about time and priority.

Blarkon reckons...

Posted November 9, 2013

Asher is a good example. He's an extreme climate change denialist. But I still like his books. This means that I'll buy one, but not follow on twitter.

Re Card - I think that there are also a lot of people who haven't read his work who are falling over themselves to reinforce their progressive credentials through villification.

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tqft ducks in to say...

Posted November 9, 2013

Following William Gibson on twitter is an educational exercise. Besides the Rob Ford saga. Stuff from his novels. Stuff that might be in his work. Reality & fiction mixing at work.

Greg Egan is a strange case. Got onto his work because of the other stuff that he does besides write novels. He does quite a lote of mathematical & physics visualization programming which I see from other people I have followed for a long time (John Baez from before I left Canberra last millenium).

Other authors I don't know how they manage to get any actual writing done with the amount of time they seem to be posting. I do suppose it means they are near a computer and potentially working. The distraction can be useful.

This week I read/skimmed a couple of '000 pages looking for stuff. How much can you process? I got near that limit this week. Without some distraction I would have lost it. Also regulatory documents don't have plot, character or (hopefully) explosions.

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Anthony ducks in to say...

Posted November 9, 2013

I don't bother with Card - basically beause I'm not overly keen on his writing, theres just something that irritates me. Ironically I was intoduced to him by a lesbian colleague who thought he was wonderful.

I regard my own politics as somewhat left of centre but that doesn't stop me from reading and enjoying the likes of John Ringo and even Tom Kratman(!). In fact it's a sad fact that the more reactionary members of the Baen stable are often the more entertaining.

By the way JB - something for a future book club. "Shooting Victoria" by Paul Thomas Murphy. It's a fascinating look at the eight assassination attempts on the life of Queen Victoria. An interesting bit of trivia - her first assailant ended up working as a painter in Melbourne.

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W from Brisbane (reposted by JB) mutters...

Posted November 9, 2013

Generally, if you have a publicity department, you probably don't need a social media presence.

Regarding the 'write, then pimp' expectation.
Well, writing, it's different, innit? Books - do you know that one book can take hours and hours to read? And you can't just let your mind wander, like with music and film. No, with a book you have to pay attention, every bloody minute, hour after hour, word by bloody word. I don't know why we bother really. Authors should be paying the reader. At least they should be prepared to answer the occasional question from the poor misguided saps who don't just wait for the movie.

Speaking of movies, how easy is that! One and a half hours, and half the audience seem to spend their time talking about the new tiles they want in the kitchen and why Tracy's new boyfriend is a real dickhead.

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robW ducks in to say...

Posted November 10, 2013

Or, a writer can turn the tables and play the dealer's odds. Write a novel (or three) about a dystopian present, chock full of conspiracy theories (probably quite true), with plenty of Wiki-leaks and Snowdon thrown in for good measure. Stylistically mimic a few well-known authors here and there in your text, just enough to give all the editors and booksellers grist for the rumor mill. Create a name like "John Twelve Hawks," mysterious but meaningless and untraceable. Next, chum the media waters with "off the grid" comments. Stir well. Repeat. Instruct the agent to drop ship royalty checks first to general delivery at McMurdo Station or the Hudson Bay catalog store in Churchill, Manitoba or a cattle ranch in Argentina.

Worked well enough for John Twelve Hawks to cash in a bit and put aside a nest egg large enough that he could work on the writing he really liked to do and to do it under his own name.

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Lulu mumbles...

Posted November 11, 2013

I've been looking for somewhere to put this rather interesting article which I thought people here might enjoy, and this seems as good a place as any:

http://www.salon.com/2013/10/30/the_twisted_mind_of_enders_game/

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