The TL;DR Thread (Don't Read Unless You Want to Be Overwhelmed by Words)

Posted by gingaio 
So I figured I'll post this here, since likely only Mr. Crush and I will be interested in the discussion. Everyone else, feel free to post whatever you want to in this thread, as long as you meet the minimum 5,000 you-writ-more-than... word limit.

Okay, I'm kidding about the word limit, but seriously...whatever you want.

I'll start with a TLDR response to Mr. Crush's post about literature.

Gcrush wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
I'm interested to hear what you've got in mind for objective criteria, but that's almost an impossible beast to kill. For example, the recycling of material isn't always a bad thing; style can trump novelty, and people usually respond most favorably to constrained variation anyway. Give them the same shit over and over, just inconsequentially different each time. The thematic analysis of fictional narratives basically makes the case that, deep down, there are no new stories anyway.

That’s Joseph Campbell territory. I waded through Hero with a Thousand Faces a while back, and the dude is just a dry, dry writer, and his goal of funneling all cultural myths into his theoretical architecture, while worth a look, is also incredibly reductive. I saw a lot of shoehorning.

That said, can you boil down stories to 7 plots, as has been the trendy thinking lately (http://www.amazon.com/The-Seven-Basic-Plots-Stories/dp/0826452094)? For me, the more practical question is, Can you tell an interesting, well-crafted story, whether you use one of those plots or not?

If you asked literary writers their criteria for evaluation (and the model text for a lot of us creative writing TAs back in the day was Gardner’s Art of Fiction), you’d have what may look like the following:
--affective value (emotional resonance)
--depth and quality of characterization (“interesting” or “believable”
characters are common jargon)
--quality of language (highly subjective, though all of these criteria are
subjective…what’s “good language”?—most easily defined as not “bad
language” (trite or plain incompetent command of language, tin ear for
dialogue, heavy use of clichés—see Twain’s “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary
Offenses” for a hilarious and complete takedown of a writer’s lack of
ability with language (what the kids might called Pwnage!))
--formal innovation (though that well ran dry a while back—did Joyce take
the novel as far as it could go? Or Beckett? Or Gertrude Stein?)

--substantive theme or message (I’d put this off to the side because
generally, for a writer, issues of craft take precedence…thematic value, I’ve found, and the idea of literature as bearer of cultural value and “important messages,” is more a preoccupation of critics/reviewers and scholars (who need to maintain a certain literary cachet to justify their jobs) than
writers. (A generalization, of course, as there are many, many writers
concerned with big and important themes, but if we’re talking about the
“craft” from the literary writer’s point of view, everything starts with
the language and characters).

Point is, even those criteria (and their relative value) are subject to interpretation and debate on a story-by-story or book-by-book basis. What Gardner values in literature is probably simultaneously different from and similar to what Toni Morrison or Vonnegut values, depending on their aesthetic and political stances.

Where the divisions Paul mentions come in handy, this generalization of genre fiction as lightweight pulp versus literature, is in the arena of commerce. One of the first things a literary agent will consider when you shop your novel around is what kind of story it is, how it will be marketed and targeted toward the proper demographic/psychographic.

And for a reader, there are issues of time and money to consider, as in, “I don’t want to waste either of those things on a book I’m not going to like.”

Which is why the creation of algorithms for producers and retailers is such a booming trade.

Genre classifications, like any other kind of classifications, simplify decisions and reduce risk. So if you’re a 30-something astrophysicist who hates reading books about domestic drama, you’ll know to avoid any book that has jacket copy describing that type of drama, or which features blurbs from writers who write that kind of drama.

Or if you don’t like shoddy writing and juvenile drama, then you know to stay away from young adult novels, though you may be surprised, as I was, by Hunger Games (and this is a complicated genre as well due to the rise of “book packagers,” which feature teams of consultants and writers coming up with book concepts, not unlike a big Hollywood film…the Gossip Girls series was a result of that, as was I am Number Four…in a sense, these books, because they’re meant to perpetuate indefinitely or as long as they can, function as much as product as art. For a very brief period, I was contracted to work with one of these book packagers, and pretty much quit; I realized I had no interest in and talent for these types of McBooks).

Which is a long way of saying that, yes, genre classifications do help us eliminate a lot of the dross from our lives, and while there’s a good probability of the stuff we normally don’t like turning out to be stuff that we don’t actually like, it’s important to keep in mind that not all literary fiction is “good” or worthwhile, and there’s a lot of supposed pulp that is.

Or maybe that’s how I justify my lowbrow tastes.

Personally, I relate to Chabon’s take on the consequences of placing too much value on genre boundaries (http://herocomplex.latimes.com/2008/08/21/michael-chabon/). I tend to value his opinion given that he's written one of my favorite novels, he's a fellow comic book geek, and he's got a Pulitzer (for that novel that I love). YMMV:

1) Wonderful, serious, sophisticated writers who would appeal to a broader audience get stuck in the genre ghettos where “mainstream” readers seldom venture.

2) Writers of “mainstream” fiction whose taste as readers runs to genre fiction (SF, horror) feel shy or hesitant about attempting to write what they love, for fear of being dismissed or, perhaps, perceived as dabbling.

3) The range and depth of literary criticism is narrowed and reduced; after nearly 50 years, people are still talking about Kingsley Amis’ “New Maps of Hell” as if there were something remarkable in a “serious” critic writing about [science fiction].

4) Less fun is had.



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 05/17/2012 03:46PM by gingaio.
gingaio Wrote:
>
> That said, can you boil down stories to 7 plots,
> as has been the trendy thinking lately
> (http://www.amazon.com/The-Seven-Basic-Plots-Stories/dp/0826452094)?

Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings, recently turned Twitter humorist, amusingly skewered that the other day:
[twitter.com]

On to the actual point-

> Which is a long way of saying that, yes, genre
> classifications do help us eliminate a lot of the
> dross from our lives, and while there’s a good
> probability of the stuff we normally don’t like
> turning out to be stuff that we don’t actually
> like, it’s important to keep in mind that not all
> literary fiction is “good” or worthwhile, and
> there’s a lot of supposed pulp that is.

I agree with this! But as someone who reads a lot of genre fiction, I think there's a point where you can draw a line (perhaps a vague one, not a firm one, but a division nonetheless), and say, work beyond this point isn't really trying to be anything besides entertainment.

One can find a "degenerate case" for genre fiction which does not make any attempt to fulfill *any* of the literary criteria you list above. There are military novels (and military science fiction novels, and spy novels, and so on) which are essentially doing nothing besides running through the tactics of a conflict in detail. There are mystery novels which offer nothing but a puzzle and clues. I argue that there are works of these genres which totally discard character, emotion and often style in favor of procedure.

It's tricky (maybe impossible) to agree upon any kind of baseline criteria for distinction in genres whose simplest appeal is based not on this type of structured outcome but on excitement or on a formulaic emotional arc. However, I do believe formula and imitativeness are a fair way to judge this. There are degrees of formulaic writing; there are themes and structures that are perennial, or that are being built over the course of the history of a genre, and then there are formulae that are designed to follow immediately recent trends. The more closely a work resembles the mass of other work being published in its genre at the same time, the less likely that the writer is expressing anything distinctive.

My point in all this is not to say that distinctions of literary value can be reduced to objective evaluations. But I think that the opinions held by literary-minded readers are, at their root, based partly on objective distinctions between works, distinctions which also are indicative of the author's intentions.

This is all very fuzzy with regard to prose fiction, particularly because so much excellent work that can easily be dismissed as mere genre fiction is being published. However, when it comes to other media - video games most of all, but also superhero comic book and certain genres of film - I think it's much easier to say that a certain work is doing nothing more than recycling a formula for entertainment, because such a great amount of work in those contexts is so monumentally shallow and derivative. It becomes more evident, from looking at the spectrum of work available, what composes a minimal baseline of procedural entertainment.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/17/2012 05:39PM by asterphage.
Eh, for the record, when I said there are no new stories I meant that stylistic variation will always outpace narrative innovation. I’m not really on Joe Campbell’s trek, but I admit it’s an interesting way to winnow the breadth of human stories into a comparative, if not flawed, study of variation. I say flawed because that with some texts if you don’t have the requisite context to understand them you are simply left dumbstruck and unable to analyze them because of their apparent pointlessness. Or, like Campbell, you end up shoehorning elephants under a welcome mat while hoping that no one notices the lumps.

More along the lines of my thinking was the analysis of motifs to see what patterns appear in various texts. And, frankly, it’s the opposite of reductionism. Take the Aarne-Thompson classification systems otherwise known as the Stith Thompson Motif-Index of Folk-Literature: A Classification of Narrative Elements in Folktales, Ballads, Myths, Fables, Medieval romances, Exempla, Fabliaux, Jest-Books, and Local Legends. Unlike Campbell’s most famous work, the Index is exhaustively dense and at times utterly impenetrable if viewed as a source of knowledge rather than a tool. Which, again, is the primary failing of Campbell – he made an interesting book that seemed to teach people stuff about myth, but he created no analytical tools along the way.

So… We could talk about texts in terms of their narrative qualities, their stylistic flair, their social functions, their economic role… All without ever penetrating the point of whether or not they are transcendent works, or even if such a concept has any merit. For my taste, it doesn’t. I think looking at the communal nature of texts as a process is far more enlightening because it can include qualities like, “writes in an interesting way”, “makes the old seem new again”, “presses the audience to ponder existential questions”, “makes us enjoy the act of reading”, and so on, without ever confining a text to such qualities.

Texts are communal, interactive things. An open-ended, process definition is the only way we can develop knowledge about them. Categorical definitions will only produce stagnant views of them.
Oh, and the data-mining that publishers are getting hip to? It’s another massive trend in post-scarcity economies. Hordes of industries are using it, and mostly to better ply their bullshit to the world. It’s utterly depressing. Can you imagine a future where not just news, but entertainment(!), is generated by the clockwork hearts of statisticians searching for the most lucrative algorithms to expertly play consumers like a Reddit or Digg troll?

Eh, it’s already upon us. Look to your screens and despair.
Gcrush Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Oh, and the data-mining that publishers are
> getting hip to? It’s another massive trend in
> post-scarcity economies. Hordes of industries are
> using it, and mostly to better ply their bullshit
> to the world. It’s utterly depressing. Can you
> imagine a future where not just news, but
> entertainment(!), is generated by the clockwork
> hearts of statisticians searching for the most
> lucrative algorithms to expertly play consumers
> like a Reddit or Digg troll?
>
> Eh, it’s already upon us. Look to your screens
> and despair.

Thankfully there's a gap between what the marketeers want and what is actually possible. Digitalizing books and other printed matter for datamining? Should be simple, eh, because human language is nicely hierarchical and there's no possibility whatsoever of incorrect interpretation, double meanings, improper use of definitions, vague grammar, and other linguistic issues (which the marketing drone conveniently skips because "Kompooters R MaGiC 'n Can Do anythung"). </sarcasm>

What if the person who wrote the text wrote it in a language that is not his primary language? What if the idiom is archaic? What if <insert technical term here> that supposedly has a clear definition actually has a definition that can mean different things to different people, because the definition is based upon words that themselves are not clearly defined?

Furthermore, when extracting data, how do you prevent fragmented sentences that are completely unreadable? Incompatible units? Colorblind people? Biased descriptions? Incorrect or wrongly cited sources? Information that supposedly is included in the text but actually is part of a definition in specialists' heads only? So many pitfalls!

The main problem is convincing the marketing drone that such things exist, because they often can't grasp the concept. And that, dear people, gives more headaches than the various issues encountered when preparing data for datamining (guess what my job entails?).

So expect bland entertainment full of plotholes, major incoherences, unintelligible dialogues, painful stereotypes, and unintended freudian slips if they use datamining for producing such things. Oh, and lots and lots of pr0n on daytime TV. Fun times ahead, if you ask me. Especially when the news are forced to broadcast footage of the massive riots that will break out when automatically produced datamining shows are broadcasted.

Some ideas:
- "Niggahead P.I. and the Tsundere Radioactive Squad" (Stormfront propaganda + retro-80s crime series + aggressive Moeblobs + Tepco)
- "Djelaba Fever: Hot Hospital Nights in Bethlehem, Palestina" (weather forecast for the middle east + muslim fundamentalists + antiterrorist actions + most popular adult videos amongst Christian males)
- "A Superrobot is the White House, R&B Daleks invade the London Manor" (supersentai + hip president + popular music + Doctor Who + crappy horror movie effects)
- "Brownies, Discord, and Prejudice" (Jane Austen + My Little Pony + a classical colonial setting)
- "Perfect Engagement Night Investigation Service" (Something Awful + Fun with acronyms + most popular topic on the internet + Mission Impossible + products placement by appropriate companies + TV audience interaction by goading)

--
SilhouetteFormula.Net
thomas Wrote:
>
> Some ideas:

Wow.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
thomas Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thankfully there's a gap between what the
> marketeers want and what is actually possible.
> Digitalizing books and other printed matter for
> datamining? Should be simple, eh, because human
> language is nicely hierarchical and there's no
> possibility whatsoever of incorrect
> interpretation, double meanings, improper use of
> definitions, vague grammar, and other linguistic
> issues (which the marketing drone conveniently
> skips because "Kompooters R MaGiC 'n Can Do
> anythung").

Yeah... Look, you've got great points about the difficulty in using correlations to analyze texts for meaning. And the software for getting around those issues keeps getting better and better. But, that's irrelevant. The notion of “meaning” has no direct impact on commercialization. What matters is pattern recognition and manipulation. Is there any pattern to the things that are selling? Yes? Then let’s use that pattern. The only data businesses care about is what they can use to influence consumers. That’s all.

And it’s hardly new. Hollywood has been using it for probably longer than we’ve been alive. Same with other industries. But until recently they’ve lacked the technical sophistication to articulate things in advanced quantitative language. It used to be the common sense of experience. Now it’s wrapped in the techno-wizardry of linear regressions and ANOVA. Still the same shit.

My point was to prophesize the death knell of our current illusions of consumable entertainment. There was a reason so many sitcoms and cartoons in the 1980s followed the same pattern over and over. People were ripping each other off as fast as they could. And post-scarcity economies make it easier for them to do that faster. That’s pretty fucking annoying.

Then there’s the downright depressing aspect that behind it all are some unflattering truths about humanity latent in that torrent of garbage. We are not at all quite so unique and special in so many of the most prized aspects of our humanity. Our virtuous sentiments, crippling vices, and unlimited creativity are so much more constrained and dull than we can even comprehend.

Everyone will know this when Thomas’ P.E.N.I.S. show becomes the heir to Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, which an ex-girlfriend used to call Urban Legends and Molested Dead Babies: Ultimate Clue Hunters, "With special guest, New York City!".

We have seen the enema, and it is us.
asterphage Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> thomas Wrote:
> >
> > Some ideas:
>
> Wow.

Unfortunately, if they implement it the way it is implemented in certain circles, this is what we will end up with. Tangential correlations will be used as meaning causation and interrelation, i.e. 'good'. Now knowing the human race, about 90% of humans will not actually mind this, and the remaining 10% will suffer. Loudmouth special interest groups will hatch onto the more extreme aspects - in their eyes of course - and loudly complain. Inadvertedly, they will mostly popularize the more extreme shows, and their original message will drown out. Who cares that character X in show Y is a woman-hating racist fucker if the stunts he pulls are beyond spectacular and perfectly reproducable in the average teenager's bedroom? Who cares that the trailer trash butler of a stereotypical US president transgresses all traditional Christian values when he uses a transforming supercar superrobot to kick arse in some backwater European place ruled by mobile trashcans shouting "EXTERMINATE"? Who cares if a cop is a sociopathic unlikable bastard if he doubles as a crazed psychopath who kills the perpretators of crimes in his fap hole? That's totally awesome!

Oh wait, I think I just described "Dexter" in the last one...

So actually I rather agree with Mr. Crush. We're there already, and for the more intellectual person the only decent TV programs that remain are the rare non-fiction series that have not been totally trashed by marketing drones. That, and geek-oriented TV.

As for Dexter, I completely fail to understand its popularity. The main character is a cold unlikable bastard with no redeeming features and stereotypical and extremely exagerated mannerisms. I guess he fulfills the public's idea of revenge some people believe villains should meet - an eye for an eye, that kind of thing. The show's style is pretty close to how other similar series are filmed, so no biggie there (it rather reminds me of the X-Files). I tried to watch it, but found most of the points made were brought in such a cookie-cutter blunt unsubtle fashion that the show was pretty much unwatchable.
This actually is a complaint that I have about a lot of crime-shows lately: they're too black-and-white, and the characters sound more like stereotypes that profess an extreme version of some point of view than real people. That's...boring. If I want that, I can go read the comments sections on Youtube. I understand it apparently appels the masses, but it fails to make truly interesting characters.

I also think the current trend of having the protagonist be someone with some kind of handicap/rare disease/special gift is worrying, especially combined with the unsubtleness of many shows. It basically tends to say "X is flawed because of <handicap>, yet can do special things too", which sometimes is true, often not in real life. However, because traits are massively exagerated in the shows, those that have milder forms of it in real life might suffer due to the creation of a stereotypical view of such issues.

--
SilhouetteFormula.Net
Gcrush Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Eh, for the record, when I said there are no new
> stories I meant that stylistic variation will
> always outpace narrative innovation. I’m not
> really on Joe Campbell’s trek, but I admit it’s an
> interesting way to winnow the breadth of human
> stories into a comparative, if not flawed, study
> of variation. I say flawed because that with some
> texts if you don’t have the requisite context to
> understand them you are simply left dumbstruck and
> unable to analyze them because of their apparent
> pointlessness. Or, like Campbell, you end up
> shoehorning elephants under a welcome mat while
> hoping that no one notices the lumps.
>
>I think looking at the communal nature of texts as a process is far more
>enlightening because it can include qualities like, “writes in an interesting
>way”, “makes the old seem new again”, “presses the audience to ponder
>existential questions”, “makes us enjoy the act of reading”, and so on, without
>ever confining a text to such qualities.

Indeed. Didn't mean to imply you were making Campbell's argument for him. I think if we consider "context" as akin to communal, we'd be on a similar bent. One of the most difficult things to get kids to think about these days is that any given text I have them look at is but one small component of a much larger discussion. I remember teaching Sapphire's Push one quarter, partly out of curiousity as to why people dig this kind of self-exploitative "ghetto lit" so much, and the kids loved that book. We'd talk about the interaction of the text with its intended audience, who the intended audience was comprised of (was it the culture-making apparatus, say, of NY Publishing?), and the fact that a lot of African-American scholars and writers really disliked the stereotype-perpetuating function of this text and texts like this.

Anyway, going beyond the text is helpful.

Thomas Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>As for Dexter, I completely fail to understand its popularity. The main
>character is a cold unlikable bastard with no redeeming features and
>stereotypical and extremely exagerated mannerisms. I guess he fulfills the
>public's idea of revenge some people believe villains should meet - an eye for
>an eye, that kind of thing. The show's style is pretty close to how other
>similar series are filmed, so no biggie there (it rather reminds me of the
>X-Files). I tried to watch it, but found most of the points made were brought
>in such a cookie-cutter blunt unsubtle fashion that the show was pretty much
>unwatchable.

Clearly, the sitcom tactic of giving the protagonist(s) a new baby did not work on you.

I think you've got a point with how much Dexter has been teh Suck since the first couple of seasons. For a while now, it's been on automatic with an arch-villain-of-the-season formula and very sloppy writing (and that's not to mention the very lazy strategy of characterizing Dexter by giving him a baby, even if that plot point was set up early on).

I have to say, though, that the first season was really good. For me, the pathos was precisely that Dexter was this empty creature who was miming human behavior and trying to locate a soul, and the way that the dynamic played out, with his girlfriend and sister (and of course, the daddy in his head) as tethers to a kind of prescribed morality, was really clever. In a way, he was a variation of Pinnochio/Tin Man/Kid from A.I., but a serial killer who only kills bad guys. See? Utterly heroic. But really, what made the character sympathetic was the degree to which he was so utterly lost when it came to how to feel about the most basic human exchanges.

Anyway, it was a clever concept, but they've driven it into the ground. The problem with that as a 30/40-something-year-old man, this character is either going to find his soul or not, and with all that's been established about the character, it's fairly clear that he's going to be perpetually faking it as a person. In addition, in the last couple of seasons, we've learned that he's content to be on the path that he's on, that he's a Super-Killer, and that there's really not much new for us to see about him. Which, as far as serial drama and character development, is Leaping over the Carcharodon.



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 05/20/2012 06:43PM by gingaio.
Gcrush Wrote:
>
> Yeah... Look, you've got great points about the
> difficulty in using correlations to analyze texts
> for meaning. And the software for getting around
> those issues keeps getting better and better.
> But, that's irrelevant. The notion of “meaning”
> has no direct impact on commercialization. What
> matters is pattern recognition and manipulation.
> Is there any pattern to the things that are
> selling? Yes? Then let’s use that pattern. The
> only data businesses care about is what they can
> use to influence consumers. That’s all.
>
> And it’s hardly new. Hollywood has been using it
> for probably longer than we’ve been alive. Same
> with other industries. But until recently they’ve
> lacked the technical sophistication to articulate
> things in advanced quantitative language. It used
> to be the common sense of experience. Now it’s
> wrapped in the techno-wizardry of linear
> regressions and ANOVA. Still the same shit.

Recently it's become obvious that content producers can't predict this reliably, especially in Hollywood. Every year a new batch of cookie-cutter blockbusters burn out spectacularly, while some dark horse success emerges. I think the inability of the sequel and remake engine to turn a profit, while talented creators like Cameron and Nolan and Whedon can still score direct hits, shows that trying to make something that's actually good often trumps their commercial forecasting.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
asterphage Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Recently it's become obvious that content
> producers can't predict this reliably, especially
> in Hollywood. Every year a new batch of
> cookie-cutter blockbusters burn out spectacularly,
> while some dark horse success emerges. I think the
> inability of the sequel and remake engine to turn
> a profit, while talented creators like Cameron and
> Nolan and Whedon can still score direct hits,
> shows that trying to make something that's
> actually good often trumps their commercial
> forecasting.

I heard before that the entertainment industry is plagued by a bipolar relationship between risk-aversion and betting-the-farm. And that financial blockbusters are performance outliers with smaller productions having more predictable returns. I have no idea if this is true or not. Still, every year we get the deluge of crap movies with the handful of diamonds bobbing among the turds.
Gcrush Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> asterphage Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> > Recently it's become obvious that content
> > producers can't predict this reliably,
> especially
> > in Hollywood. Every year a new batch of
> > cookie-cutter blockbusters burn out
> spectacularly,
> > while some dark horse success emerges. I think
> the
> > inability of the sequel and remake engine to
> turn
> > a profit, while talented creators like Cameron
> and
> > Nolan and Whedon can still score direct hits,
> > shows that trying to make something that's
> > actually good often trumps their commercial
> > forecasting.
>
> I heard before that the entertainment industry is
> plagued by a bipolar relationship between
> risk-aversion and betting-the-farm. And that
> financial blockbusters are performance outliers
> with smaller productions having more predictable
> returns. I have no idea if this is true or not.
> Still, every year we get the deluge of crap movies
> with the handful of diamonds bobbing among the
> turds.
>
I guess I'm less skeptical and more in line with the point that Paul mentioned, in that while Hollywood certainly has a terrible batting average with regarding to turd popping, it's not the sole killer of good art either, especially if you think of the few big Hollywood studios as modern-day patrons, and keep in mind that Renaissance Venice, with its papal patronage system, still managed to churn out masterpieces.

With apologies to Mr. Crush, Paul, and the Reverend, I'm clipping the discussion from the Shapeways thread and pasting it here because I don't want to further piss Boo off by continuing to hijack his personal thread.

Gcrush wrote:
>I'm undecided on this point. I’m not even sure if we should be compensated for
>IP or not. If we look at human history, the concept is relatively young. The
>spread of human beings across the planet and our ever growing technical
>sophistry is based on ripping off ideas. The major tool shifts in the
>archaeological record even bear this out. We see something cool and then copy
>this shit out of it. We weren’t getting paid for it before and the notion that
>we should is very strongly entrenched in some specific histories.

Not sure how far back you're going into history here, but if my concern is modern-day artists or creative types, would this be a relevant parallel (given that the professionalization of the artist class and ideas-related jobs is also relatively young)?

>We are also very desperately attached to that notion since it turns the >chugging engines of the economic juggernauts upon which we all seem to ride.
>But the only way we can cling to the notion of idea-control in a post-scarcity
>world is voluntarily opting for the totalitarian licensing of everything as
>consumable goods and charging people not for ownership, but continual use. In
>other words, a subscription service for everything – the websites you use, the
>shoes you wear, the pistons in your car… Everything, all the time, regardless
>of whether it is “used up” when put to work for you or not.

Right, but I think this is an extreme worst-case scenario, and the issue we're dealing with now is difficult to talk about in such a manner. For one thing, and this is my fault for using the term, the phrase "intellectual property" is fairly vague (w/r/t toys, covering things from a 100% bootleg of a finished product to a product that's based loosely on a design owned by a company), and it's the vagueness primarily that has led to the various back-and-forths between corporate patent holders and people utilizing patented ideas.

I'm more concerned with copyrights as they apply to "authors." From this point on, I'm using Stallman's author-publisher-public triangle (http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/misinterpreting-copyright.html) to avoid confusion. With regard to copyrights, Stallman himself concedes that they exist partly to prevent exploitation of the author, and suggests that copyright durations (say 10 years for a book or 20 years for a movie) are meant to allow the "author" time to produce more work.

I mentioned compensation before I started reading up on Stallman, but I think I agree with a lot of his points regarding author protection and compensation (in the form of copyrights). First of all, he understands the simple fact that artists (e.g., writers and filmmakers) require a lot of time (years, in fact) to produce work that can (sometimes or rarely) sustain them financially and allow them to continue producing art. Given that we're going to be living in a money-based society for the foreseeable future, the idea of compensation serves the public good (Stallman's ultimate objective, and what he sees as the Constitution's mandate) indirectly by making sure that a society's artists are enabled and encouraged to work.

Where copyright protection is more debatable is when the product in question serves a greater good by not being copyrighted (e.g., a new cancer drug), and placing restrictions on copyright extensions for such products is totally understandable to me.

With regard to Sanjeev's Kickstarter-esque toy idea, I think what it illustrates is this need to balance some type of reimbursement for the author for the time, energy...bascally opportunity costs...incurred, against the public’s right or freedom to use.

But the thing is, Sanjeev's livelihood is not based on toy designing (same goes for a lot of the people who've worked on GNU), not in the way that it is for a professional composer or novelist or filmmaker. So would we allow the same freedom of usage by the public when the risks/stakes are so inherently different across the arts themselves?

That's a more complicated question, especially when the best I've seen from Stallman in response to this quandary is a sort of ballparking: "Well, maybe 20 years would be good for a filmmaker..."



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/21/2012 10:22PM by gingaio.
Sanjeev (Admin)
gingaio Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> So would we allow the same freedom of
> usage by the public when the risks/stakes are so
> inherently different across the arts themselves?


I think the point is that we'll eventually have no choice.

You're asking a good question...to which I don't purport to have all the answers. But the bottom line is that it's becoming easier and easier to "steal" IP...to the point where it essentially won't be "stealing" anymore. It'll just be a fact of life...taken for granted. Oh, there'll be much resistance at first...and draconian measures to stem the tide (like that fucking college kid getting sued for $375k or whatever for downloading some fucking mp3's). But come on...

Adapt or die.
Gcrush Wrote:
>
> I heard before that the entertainment industry is
> plagued by a bipolar relationship between
> risk-aversion and betting-the-farm. And that
> financial blockbusters are performance outliers
> with smaller productions having more predictable
> returns. I have no idea if this is true or not.

If we believe the numbers reported for films' budgets, this seems to be provably true.

> Still, every year we get the deluge of crap movies
> with the handful of diamonds bobbing among the
> turds.

Well, yes, but in terms of box office success only, it seems like studios have been failing as often as they've been succeeding with a strategy based on dispassionate analysis of what people will pay money for, and that directors with a more defined, coherent vision of what makes a good movie are more adept at producing tentpole blockbusters.


Sanjeev Wrote:
>
> Oh, there'll be much resistance at first...and
> draconian measures to stem the tide (like that
> fucking college kid getting sued for $375k or
> whatever for downloading some fucking mp3's).

more money than anyone anywhere has

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
Sanjeev (Admin)
Haha...funny timing: I was just reading this last week:
[www.cracked.com]
Sanjeev Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> gingaio Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> I think the point is that we'll eventually have no
> choice.
>
I think that's part of the point, but to concede or push for one side's utter defeat without considering any other possible alternative is a limited way of looking at things, and it's why we have this ongoing war between big corporate and individuals.

> You're asking a good question...to which I don't
> purport to have all the answers. But the bottom
> line is that it's becoming easier and easier to
> "steal" IP...to the point where it essentially
> won't be "stealing" anymore. It'll just be a fact
> of life...taken for granted. Oh, there'll be much
> resistance at first...and draconian measures to
> stem the tide (like that fucking college kid
> getting sued for $375k or whatever for downloading
> some fucking mp3's). But come on...
>
> Adapt or die.

I'll defer to Professor Lessig (from [www.washingtonpost.com]), whose full interview I've excerpted below:

"I believe that copyrights, properly defined and reasonably balanced, ought to be defended by copyright owners, and organizations (whether the RIAA or others) devoted to defending such rights."

"Indeed, I think all solutions that rely upon technology to control access suffer important and unavoidable costs. More importantly, an arms race around technologies for locking up and liberating content is a waste. We should push for a regime that helps assure artists get paid without simultaneously breaking the most valuable features of the internet."

"I understand and support laws which control the ability of A to sell a verbatim copy of B's copyrighted work without B's permission. But whatever wrong that is, it is totally different from the "wrong" of building a work based on B's work. Our law does not adequately distinguish between the two, and it should. A shorter term might be one solution. I suggest others in my book. But it is plainly an area where serious reform could do serious good."

"I think ARTISTS and CREATORS are great. I think our framers intended them to be benefited by copyright law. But I believe our Congress (and FCC) has produced a world where PUBLISHERS (in the broadest sense of that term) are the real beneficiaries of our copyright system. And as they become fat, slogging giants, the stuff they produce (or allow to be produced) will be increasingly awful."

"I don't believe we have a FREE CULTURE if creativity is criminal. I don't believe we respect the tradition of FREE SPEECH if the act of remixing culture is an act that requires permission from publishers first. I don't believe we will have a vibrant FREE MARKET if it is so heavily regulated by lawyers. So even if in the dystopian future I describe, a 13 year old is physically able to create an "precocious beautiful novel," we don't live in a free culture unless she can create that work without hiring a lawyer first."

I think the next-to-last quote dovetails into some stuff Mr. Crush has been saying about crappy art, and also correlates with Stallman's critical views of publishers in the author-publisher-public triangle.

In a general sense, he is talking about adapting, but without forfeiting completely the idea of authorship and the author's rights.



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 05/22/2012 05:59PM by gingaio.
Sanjeev (Admin)
I think what Professor Pasty McMilktoast is failing to grasp fully is how irrevocably the fundamental basis of our systems of ownership, power, etc., are changing. Heh...I don't mean to be disrespectful to the prof with the nickname, but c'mon. Most of that interview excerpt is grounded in such old thinking, it hardly applies to what we're talking about.

This isn't about "how do we compensate artists for creating beautiful things". This is about "what does 'compensation' mean?" Artists don't get paid shit--for the most part--for bringing beauty into the world. Mothers don't get paid shit for bringing life into the world. I'm not saying we're gonna have an economy that looks like Star Trek overnight (the economy, mind you, NOT the culture...or lack thereof!)...but shit's headed roughly in the direction.

I hate to talk like this because, as you said, it sounds like I'm pretty much flatly conceding one side without exploring alternatives. You're right; I do. But I think this is a good thing, as well as an inevitable thing.

I am open to discussing further though...
gingaio Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Not sure how far back you're going into history
> here, but if my concern is modern-day artists or
> creative types, would this be a relevant parallel
> (given that the professionalization of the artist
> class and ideas-related jobs is also relatively
> young)?

I think it’s relevant because it frames the most proximate part of human history as a bubble and not the inevitable diversification of economic specialization. I don’t see how we can separate the growth of international capitalism from the concept of intellectual property, especially as the trade in “goods” has shifted to become the trade in “goods rooted in intangible stuff”. As long as the situation is framed from the perspective of contemporary capitalism, we’re going to be stuck with some extremely limiting assumptions – such as the notion that it is just and right for people to subsist solely on the basis of their ideas. This is essentially what I’m arguing against.


> I mentioned compensation before I started reading
> up on Stallman, but I think I agree with a lot of
> his points regarding author protection and
> compensation (in the form of copyrights). First of
> all, he understands the simple fact that artists
> (e.g., writers and filmmakers) require a lot of
> time (years, in fact) to produce work that can
> (sometimes or rarely) sustain them financially and
> allow them to continue producing art. Given that
> we're going to be living in a money-based society
> for the foreseeable future, the idea of
> compensation serves the public good (Stallman's
> ultimate objective, and what he sees as the
> Constitution's mandate) indirectly by making sure
> that a society's artists are enabled and
> encouraged to work.

Note: I’m going to start using “artist” as synonymous with “author”, “composer”, “engineering”, and “creator”.

These are precisely the type of assumptions that bother me because they’re going largely un-critiqued in discussions about IP. First, there is the assumption that more output equates to more money; sustained artistic output is best. Second, the assumption that people cannot, or will not, produce art without financial incentives; no money equals no art. I found both of these to be extremely contextually specific assumptions rooted in contemporary capitalistic frames. people are saying that “preserving artist as an economic class” will benefit both artists and society. And, personally, I don’t see that there’s any objective basis for that; quite the opposite. Prolonging the revenue of a single work, or supporting the continued development of revenue making works, does not inherently improve the lives of artists or their output. Nor does paying artists for their work. It just puts them under pressure to produce things merely for the sake of making money, not good work, or risk facing poverty because that’s how they are rewarded.

Here’s my biggest bias. I fancy myself as something of an artist. I love to create stuff. It’s really fucking fulfilling. At one point I worked regularly as an artist and it really pulled a lot of the fulfillment out of the act of creation. I had pressure to make a certain level of money, meaning I had to accept/reject jobs based on what they would pay, and I had pressure to mediate the process based on other people’s agendas simply because they held all the money. It meant that only certain audiences would see my work. It prioritized money over other potential benefits to either me or society. It was more shitty than challenging. After leaving that behind me, I found that the freedom from economic constraints has enabled me to do some of my best work because the only limitation I have is “time” rather than “time and money”. I can now produce one really good piece in a comfortable way in the same amount of time it would have taken me to produce a dozen shitty commercial pieces during which time I would fret endlessly over stupid details and shifting client demands. I’m not really willing to reverse that.


> Where copyright protection is more debatable is
> when the product in question serves a greater good
> by not being copyrighted (e.g., a new cancer
> drug), and placing restrictions on copyright
> extensions for such products is totally
> understandable to me.

I’m not willing to touch a “greater good” argument with a ten foot long wall of text. Even for a potential AIDS cure.


> But the thing is, Sanjeev's livelihood is not
> based on toy designing (same goes for a lot of the
> people who've worked on GNU), not in the way that
> it is for a professional composer or novelist or
> filmmaker. So would we allow the same freedom of
> usage by the public when the risks/stakes are so
> inherently different across the arts themselves?

The point about the Rev’rend’s livelihood is exactly what I’m getting at. There will probably always be a market for “artisanal” or handcrafted works in art; that shit practically defines economic status. But it is a process independent of the implications of post-scarcity mass-production. Some guys can always make a living by hand-painting Gundam models for other people, building furniture for them, or playing a live concert. That likely won’t change. The status of “original” work is in no way affected by ripping it off. The value of The Scream isn’t made any less by all the lithographed copies hanging in college dorms. I don’t think the difference is any greater for books, movies, clothes, or other such “objects”.

When the Rev’rend says: This is about “what does ‘compensation’ mean?” He’s absolutely right. I’m going to attempt to summarize my points to that end…

1) The concept of protecting the rights of people who make intellectual property (IP) to earn a living is misguided.
a. At best, it is a bubble phenomenon that was never sustainable.
b. At worst, it is aberrant because it retards the transformative benefits of human exchanges.

2) There is no evidence that the economic pressure created by IP improves things for individuals or society.
a. Economic pressure results in greater IP output without regard for quality.
b. Economic pressure reduces the discretionary power of individuals over their work.
c. Increased output results in society spending more time on sorting and managing rather than benefiting from IP.

3) There is evidence that removing economic pressure created by IP is not harmful.
a. People can continue to continue to generate income from works that would have been previously covered under IP.
b. People will continue to produce IP-like works even without economic incentives.

4) There is evidence the removing economic pressure can improve IP-like works.
a. People can focus on quality without regard to occupational necessity.
b. Society can shift time and energy spent on sorting and managing to actually benefiting from such works.

5) Decoupling creative, innovative, or IP-like work from economic pressures should be embraced.
a. At worst, it does no harm.
b. At best, it represents tremendous potential for good.
Gcrush Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> gingaio Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Not sure how far back you're going into history
> > here, but if my concern is modern-day artists
> or
> > creative types, would this be a relevant
> parallel
> > (given that the professionalization of the
> artist
> > class and ideas-related jobs is also relatively
> > young)?
>
> I think it’s relevant because it frames the most
> proximate part of human history as a bubble and
> not the inevitable diversification of economic
> specialization. I don’t see how we can separate
> the growth of international capitalism from the
> concept of intellectual property, especially as
> the trade in “goods” has shifted to become the
> trade in “goods rooted in intangible stuff”. As
> long as the situation is framed from the
> perspective of contemporary capitalism, we’re
> going to be stuck with some extremely limiting
> assumptions – such as the notion that it is just
> and right for people to subsist solely on the
> basis of their ideas. This is essentially what
> I’m arguing against.
>
I don't disagree. I think something about your original post triggered the phrase "stone tools" in my head, which made me go straight to "Paleolithic," in which case, I thought that was a tad too far back for our discussion. My misreading, likely. Unless you meant for “the growth of international capitalism” to include “Paleolithic.”

> These are precisely the type of assumptions that
> bother me because they’re going largely
> un-critiqued in discussions about IP. First,
> there is the assumption that more output equates
> to more money; sustained artistic output is best.
> Second, the assumption that people cannot, or will
> not, produce art without financial incentives; no
> money equals no art. I found both of these to be
> extremely contextually specific assumptions rooted
> in contemporary capitalistic frames. people are
> saying that “preserving artist as an economic
> class” will benefit both artists and society.
> And, personally, I don’t see that there’s any
> objective basis for that; quite the opposite.
> Prolonging the revenue of a single work, or
> supporting the continued development of revenue
> making works, does not inherently improve the
> lives of artists or their output. Nor does paying
> artists for their work. It just puts them under
> pressure to produce things merely for the sake of
> making money, not good work, or risk facing
> poverty because that’s how they are rewarded.
>
> Here’s my biggest bias. I fancy myself as
> something of an artist. I love to create stuff.
> It’s really fucking fulfilling. At one point I
> worked regularly as an artist and it really pulled
> a lot of the fulfillment out of the act of
> creation. I had pressure to make a certain level
> of money, meaning I had to accept/reject jobs
> based on what they would pay, and I had pressure
> to mediate the process based on other people’s
> agendas simply because they held all the money.
> It meant that only certain audiences would see my
> work. It prioritized money over other potential
> benefits to either me or society. It was more
> shitty than challenging. After leaving that
> behind me, I found that the freedom from economic
> constraints has enabled me to do some of my best
> work because the only limitation I have is “time”
> rather than “time and money”. I can now produce
> one really good piece in a comfortable way in the
> same amount of time it would have taken me to
> produce a dozen shitty commercial pieces during
> which time I would fret endlessly over stupid
> details and shifting client demands. I’m not
> really willing to reverse that.
>
Once we get into motivations for art (financial or otherwise) and how they impact the quality of the art (“artistic value”), we’re dealing with a lot of necessary qualifiers and ambiguities and generalizations.

I’ll say, though, that if we speak very generally, money-as-motive-for-art can be problematic (though that doesn't explain outliers like Dickens or a host of other writers, poets, and musicians motivated by even lesser desires and who’ve succeeded in spite of their motives).

Sanjeev touched on a very good point when he mentioned that artists don't get paid shit, and most artists work with that expectation, I think. Despite occasionally getting paid, it’s hard for most artists to be motivated primarily by money because there’s not enough of it to allow them to live off of it indefinitely. The professionalization of a full-time artist class is a recent (and relatively odd) phenomenon that, for a lot of classes of art (poetry and prose, for two) is already disappearing (the "bubble" you mention below).

There’s an assumption here that because money is exchanged for art, then automatically compromises are made artistically, and ultimately, this exchange is a bad thing.

Regading that, I really can’t refute your personal point about how economic pressure resulted in less satisfying artistic output.

I’ll just share my experience in explaining why I don't understand how eliminating a writer's ability to, basically, sell a book is necessarily the best thing.

I guess I have a narrower view because when I think of compensation--payment for a book, say. I don’t automatically think, “Well, this nice bit of advance is going to compel the writer to write a book about teenage vampires in love.” For a lot of writers, an advance from a publisher or a grant of some type from another organization (e.g., a $25,000 NEA one) is a reprieve, a way to buy the time needed to produce solitary, time-intensive work (it’s not just that novels can take years to write—it’s a full-time, everyday sort of writing that can involve travel/research costs as well). So, when, after receiving my advance from my publisher, and also money from French foreign rights for the book (which in no way was lot of money), my first thought was, Well, this bit of cash allows me to take it a little easier this year as far as teaching. I’ll have more time to work on the book I’m writing, the book that is decidedly not my Opportunity to Whore Myself Out Artistically. But because the money wasn’t enough to last me several years (and it never is), I’d always expected to get back to a normal teaching schedule soon. Still it helped me make better progress that year on the new book, it was psychologically and emotionally helpful (which indirectly helps the creative juices), and I was generally better off for having the money than not.

For a lot of prose writers (who aren’t contracted to write genre books or serials), and maybe it’s just us, money gained from work buys freedom in time to make more art (a break from a 5-class-a-semester teaching schedule or another full-time job, for example). And in this way, the money serves a function not unlike that of an academic sabbatical. At least I never felt that the money was a mandate to do shoddy work. For literary writers, the aim is simply to do "good" work, however vaguely that's defined, because while there's expectation of some compensation upon publication, publication, not money, is often the priority. Though the money helps.

The flipside of the argument is that people rarely mention the art that never gets produced because of economic pressures (the artist couldn't afford to do it). Which is why literature has historically been the vocation of the economically privileged.

But my example is purely anecdotal in a really limited way, and, given the complexity of artistic classes, their native economies, and artists in general, is hard to base generalizations off of the example. That's not my intent.
>
> > Where copyright protection is more debatable is
> > when the product in question serves a greater
> good
> > by not being copyrighted (e.g., a new cancer
> > drug), and placing restrictions on copyright
> > extensions for such products is totally
> > understandable to me.
>
> I’m not willing to touch a “greater good” argument
> with a ten foot long wall of text. Even for a
> potential AIDS cure.
>
You got me there. I was trying (poorly) to paraphrase Stallman’s argument as a way of contextualizing his position. But it’s a very problematic point.
>
> The point about the Rev’rend’s livelihood is
> exactly what I’m getting at. There will probably
> always be a market for “artisanal” or handcrafted
> works in art; that shit practically defines
> economic status. But it is a process independent
> of the implications of post-scarcity
> mass-production. Some guys can always make a
> living by hand-painting Gundam models for other
> people, building furniture for them, or playing a
> live concert. That likely won’t change. The
> status of “original” work is in no way affected by
> ripping it off. The value of The Scream isn’t
> made any less by all the lithographed copies
> hanging in college dorms. I don’t think the
> difference is any greater for books, movies,
> clothes, or other such “objects”.
>
Right. For one thing, Munch is long dead. And for another, the value of the painting is based on its status as a singular artifact, not just for its representative or symbolic functions. I’m not sure I understand the comparison to books or movies as having similar value as artifacts, if that’s the comparison. On the other hand, if you're saying that a book’s IP shouldn’t be enforced so long after the original publication, then, yeah, I understand the point.

Ultimately, and this is really the primary point I’ve been responding to, so maybe I should clarify: Are you basically saying that an artist/creator should never be paid for anything he/she produced, ever? As in no compensation for the labor? Because that's the one and only point I don't get. It's not even so much the various issues with IP, which again, I feel is a phrase vaguely defined, but simply the idea of selling your art at the initial point of publication.

Because that would be like Sanjeev designing a toy and offering it for free to the world, having poured in all the developmental and material costs himself. In which case, I would say that I would be totally willing to receive that piece of post-scarcity souvenir. (Feel free to weigh in on this, ‘Jeev.)

> When the Rev’rend says: This is about “what does
> ‘compensation’ mean?” He’s absolutely right. I’m
> going to attempt to summarize my points to that
> end…
>
> 1) The concept of protecting the rights of people
> who make intellectual property (IP) to earn a
> living is misguided.
> a. At best, it is a bubble phenomenon that was
> never sustainable.
> b. At worst, it is aberrant because it retards
> the transformative benefits of human exchanges.
>
> 2) There is no evidence that the economic pressure
> created by IP improves things for individuals or
> society.
> a. Economic pressure results in greater IP
> output without regard for quality.
> b. Economic pressure reduces the discretionary
> power of individuals over their work.
> c. Increased output results in society spending
> more time on sorting and managing rather than
> benefiting from IP.
>
> 3) There is evidence that removing economic
> pressure created by IP is not harmful.
> a. People can continue to continue to generate
> income from works that would have been previously
> covered under IP.
> b. People will continue to produce IP-like
> works even without economic incentives.
>
> 4) There is evidence the removing economic
> pressure can improve IP-like works.
> a. People can focus on quality without regard
> to occupational necessity.
> b. Society can shift time and energy spent on
> sorting and managing to actually benefiting from
> such works.
>
> 5) Decoupling creative, innovative, or IP-like
> work from economic pressures should be embraced.
> a. At worst, it does no harm.
> b. At best, it represents tremendous potential
> for good.

I don’t know what sources you’re referring to, but if by economic pressure and harm, you’re talking about the problem of corporate IP holders who are exploiting in a long-term manner both the public and the original creators (e.g., a group entity that would restrict usage of the Munch painting), then yeah, I’m fine with most of the points.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 05/23/2012 01:35AM by gingaio.
gingaio Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I don't disagree. I think something about your
> original post triggered the phrase "stone tools"
> in my head, which made me go straight to
> "Paleolithic," in which case, I thought that was a
> tad too far back for our discussion. My
> misreading, likely. Unless you meant for “the
> growth of international capitalism” to include
> “Paleolithic.”

Naw. The reference to stone tools was to point out the rapidity of technological diffusion and how the free flow of ideas is a critical adaptive feature of human beings. Being able to copy and exploit ideas in the collective is, like, who we are.

It’s not unusual to hear people use evolutionary analogies when referring to capitalism as a type of resource exploitation. I’m not entirely convinced of that. Moreover, I’m sure that when we consider ideas to be resources we’re actually working against type.


> I’ll say, though, that if we speak very generally,
> money-as-motive-for-art can be problematic (though
> that doesn't explain outliers like Dickens or a
> host of other writers, poets, and musicians
> motivated by even lesser desires and who’ve
> succeeded in spite of their motives).

I don’t mean money as motive. I just mean money as important. I didn’t take a hack at working as an artist for the sake of cashing in. Rather, I just wanted to get paid for doing something I enjoyed. It was a fabulous mistake in that such contemporary expectations about society are absolutely ludicrous. Considering that, as you said, we still live in a world of money, encouraging people to, “Do what you love and let the money follow,” is tantamount to encouraging them to gamble with their lives. I think it is more prudent to encourage people to achieve the security to do what they love without needing to heed the influence of money.


> There’s an assumption here that because money is
> exchanged for art, then automatically compromises
> are made artistically, and ultimately, this
> exchange is a bad thing.

No, no. I don’t mean to imply that. I mean that when ideas are free to be explored independent of money they are much more powerful. For example, at the moment I have total control over my creative output in the sense that I take on only projects that are interesting, on which I expect I can actually contribute something, and I never expect to get paid. Anything. All I have to think about is if I have the time and when I do, my work is great.


> I’ll just share my experience in explaining why I
> don't understand how eliminating a writer's
> ability to, basically, sell a book is necessarily
> the best thing.

I’m thinking that we should toss out the idea of selling books because, in such an instance, we’re paying people for a product as opposed to a process. That is, the act of writing is commoditized to a degree where the economic necessity and value of the product totally subsumes the labor used to create it. Stay with me…


> [On the Subject of Advances] Still it helped me make better
> progress that year on the new book, it was
> psychologically and emotionally helpful (which
> indirectly helps the creative juices), and I was
> generally better off for having the money than
> not.

Believe it or not, we’re in total agreement. You have a level of economic security independent of being an author that allows you to pursue that end. The secondary compensation you receive is less than sufficient for transitioning occupational tracks. And if it were sufficient, it would likely create a series of pressures that would fundamentally change the experience of why you write in the first place. Likewise, and I’m just guessing from experience here, that the royalties from publishing amount to jack shit; that is, the “real” money is in the advance.

Which basically means that a publisher is paying you once with the promise that more money might come later, but probably in all reality will not. Once you’ve written a book, neither you nor the publisher expect to make a whole lot more money from it – though the door is left open for that possibility. Now, would you be willing to give that possibility up if it meant being able to live without the publisher? Would you be willing to write a book knowing that if you were paid it would be once-and-only-once? Would you be willing to kickstart a novel?

“Okay, everyone! I wrote this book. I want $25,000 for it. If you all chip in and reach that goal, I turn the book over to you under the GNU. After I’m paid, the book belongs to the world and you’re all free to do with it as you see fit as long as you don’t remove my name from it.”

Like, this would be the same as selling an IP into the public domain while cutting out the most exploitative and expensive part of the process (lawyers, publishers, politicians, etc.). It preserves the name value of the creator, allows for the greatest common possible benefits, and eliminates the wasteful sub-routines of scarcity economics. I really think it could work.


> But my example is purely anecdotal in a really
> limited way, and, given the complexity of artistic
> classes, their native economies, and artists in
> general, is hard to base generalizations off of
> the example. That's not my intent.

I’m on the other end. I’m totally generalizing because I don’t see post-scarcity as being confined to any particular economy. I see it as fundamentally transformative. How could it hit one segment of an economy without producing changes in others?


> Right. For one thing, Munch is long dead. And for
> another, the value of the painting is based on its
> status as a singular artifact, not just for its
> representative or symbolic functions. I’m not sure
> I understand the comparison to books or movies as
> having similar value as artifacts, if that’s the
> comparison. On the other hand, if you're saying
> that a book’s IP shouldn’t be enforced so long
> after the original publication, then, yeah, I
> understand the point.

Here’s how I see it. The idea itself is a singular, immaterial artifact. The act of writing, painting, directing, designing, etc., is the labor necessary to realize it as a material-ready artifact. The post-scarcity production mechanism is the means by which a material-ready artifact can be reproduced by anyone. I think that compensation should cease once an idea is material-ready. If any compensation comes, it’s during the time between the inception of an idea and its preparation for infinite replication. Along those lines, I don’t even see a need for IP to be enforced at all. Going back to my idea about selling IPs into the public domain and decoupling the economics from the production side, the concept of enforcement would be irrelevant.


> Ultimately, and this is really the primary point
> I’ve been responding to, so maybe I should
> clarify: Are you basically saying that an
> artist/creator should never be paid for anything
> he/she produced, ever? As in no compensation for
> the labor? Because that's the one and only point I
> don't get. It's not even so much the various
> issues with IP, which again, I feel is a phrase
> vaguely defined, but simply the idea of selling
> your art at the initial point of publication.

I see no problem with compensation as a side-effect of producing something, but as a goal/expectation/influence/exploiter it’s retardant. The centralization of compensation structures makes it thus. More crazy-talk on this point at the end…


> Because that would be like Sanjeev designing a toy
> and offering it for free to the world, having
> poured in all the developmental and material costs
> himself. In which case, I would say that I would
> be totally willing to receive that piece of
> post-scarcity souvenir. (Feel free to weigh in on
> this, ‘Jeev.)

As I see it, and I think the Rev’rend is on the same page, once he’s decided what type or amount of compensation he’s ready for on a work, if that compensation is met his creation transfers over to the public. The compensation may well be close to zero, too. So, if he spends time and money developing a Gin-Gin Gokin he may seek some flat, one-time compensation for what he’s made; after that, people can take it, copy it, resell it, improve upon it, whatever. He might even upload all the CAD files where anyone can download and modify them. Later he might come back and offer up a second run of a product at a lower rate. The idea is that he doesn’t go into it thinking, “How much money can I make in future earnings?” but, “How much money is enough to get this done?” And that’s very different than how production current occurs under the guise of scarcity.


> I don’t know what sources you’re referring to, but
> if by economic pressure and harm, you’re talking
> about the problem of corporate IP holders who are
> exploiting in a long-term manner both the public
> and the original creators (e.g., a group entity
> that would restrict usage of the Munch painting),
> then yeah, I’m fine with most of the points.

When I say “pressure” I mean the influence of economic incentives on an idea. I firmly believe that the best work can be performed when people undertake it with absolutely no expectation of being compensated; rather, the best work comes from the desire to reward others with something you thought up or made. The pleasure of doing a thing comes from it being well received.

The opposition usually says, “People won’t work if they aren’t paid! No one will write books, make movies, or design engines if they can’t expect to earn a living!” In other words, they’re saying that removing economic incentives would be harmful to the process of creative innovation. I’m saying the dearth of evidence to support their objection means that it wouldn’t be harmful at all. People make amazing shit even when money isn’t on the line. Just because we’re conditioned to think in terms of money doesn’t mean that it actually drives everything good. Overemphasizing money produces more garbage than it does benefit.

I think that encouraging people to follow their dreams regardless of the cost is bullshit. But that doesn’t mean I think we should be in the business of crushing dreams. We should push people to develop a practical and beneficial economic footprint as a precursor to stripping the carrot/stick of compensation from their dreams and freeing up the greatest potential of their work. "Make enough money that you can engage in your passion without ever expecting to get paid." Sanjeev isn't betting the farm on Gin-Gin and because of that he's free to make it the best possible work it can be; and he's also free to let its benefits spread indefinitely thereafter.

It's a kind of idea that pleasureable not-for-profit work can be considered leisure, as opposed to leisure being something that consumes money. This is equal parts Modernism and Renaissance philosophy, and embracing post-scarcity is the way to achieve it.
Gcrush Wrote:
>
> As long as the situation is framed from the
> perspective of contemporary capitalism, we’re
> going to be stuck with some extremely limiting
> assumptions – such as the notion that it is just
> and right for people to subsist solely on the
> basis of their ideas. This is essentially what
> I’m arguing against.

I'm not sure what you're referring to when you say "subsist solely on the basis of their ideas". Very few works of art or technological patents (or whatevers) consist solely of an idea. The idea that "intellectual property" is something which exists independently of the time and effort which were required to create it is problematic. Regardless of how distant from the present that time and effort are, the creator can and should expect to be compensated for it if that time and effort have value to others.

I see that you later address the decoupling of the idea from the effort required to realize it, but I still think it's a fallacy to characterize profiting from intellectual property as profiting from an idea by itself. Are you saying there's a point (or a method of commercialization) at which the labor required to realize an idea as a reproducible object has already been fully compensated, so to speak, and any profit earned from reproduction no longer has anything to do with the labor of creating it?

> Prolonging the revenue of a single work, or
> supporting the continued development of revenue
> making works, does not inherently improve the
> lives of artists or their output. Nor does paying
> artists for their work.

It doesn't? Even if that artist doesn't have the time or energy to simultaneously create art and support themself through a non-artistic occupation? I would think that in that situation, paying an artist for their work improves their life.

gingaio Wrote:
>
> The flipside of the argument is that people rarely
> mention the art that never gets produced because
> of economic pressures (the artist couldn't afford
> to do it).

That, exactly.

Suggesting that people complete their art free from commercial pressures is a fine ideal, but no one except the independently wealthy lives free of pressure. Your Kickstarter example is sufficient for an author who has already completed a novel, but still holds little hope for the artist who, because of the system they live in, their opportunities for employment, and other constant practical pressures, is constrained from expending the necessary time, thought or energy on their work. As Gingaio has noted, the value of a publisher's advance is often to lessen those everyday pressures on an author so that they can (hopefully) complete a work on a reasonable schedule. Your assertion that all persons should create art outside of and separate from their livelihood seems to disregard the possibility that some people must devote more of themselves to their art in order to realize it.

Gcrush Wrote:
> Here’s how I see it. The idea itself is a
> singular, immaterial artifact. The act of
> writing, painting, directing, designing, etc., is
> the labor necessary to realize it as a
> material-ready artifact. The post-scarcity
> production mechanism is the means by which a
> material-ready artifact can be reproduced by
> anyone. I think that compensation should cease
> once an idea is material-ready. If any
> compensation comes, it’s during the time between
> the inception of an idea and its preparation for
> infinite replication.

This seems to contradict your previous suggestion about Kickstarter, where the idea is sold as a finished reproducible item. Isn't compensation for the preparation of an idea for replication exactly the function (if not the intent) of a publication advance? (in cases where the advance is not required to be repaid)

> It's a kind of idea that pleasureable
> not-for-profit work can be considered leisure, as
> opposed to leisure being something that consumes
> money.

The idea that art is inherently pleasurable, or that it can be characterized more as leisure than as labor, is also problematic to me.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
G--Idealistically speaking, I think we're in agreement on removing economic pressure from artistic creation.

But where we differ, I think, is on the ability of money itself to help in removing that pressure.

>"You have a level of economic security independent of being an author that
>allows you to pursue that end. The secondary compensation you receive is less
>than sufficient for transitioning occupational tracks. And if it were
>sufficient, it would likely create a series of pressures that would
>fundamentally change the experience of why you write in the first place.
"

It's an interesting point, and I'll get to that at the end of this.

First you asked whether I would ever want to Kickstart a novel, and in fact, it didn't occur to me that that's almost exactly how the current system of publishing advances work. You're really right on that point. A publisher almost never expects to make back an advance on a literary novel. There's an expectation of loss, in fact (so no royalties collected ever), and there's also an expectation that the red would be balanced by revenue from the Harry Potters and celebrity-driven books.

But here's the thing. A Kickstarter system wouldn't work for books unless, as Paul mentioned, the books are written by authors who've already published and made a name, no matter how small, for themselves. The difference between a book and, say, a designer-driven plastic toy, is that it's very easy for the potential customer of the latter to take a look at some pics and say, "Okay, I want to fund this." On the other hand, the possible enjoyment of a book is often based on credible opinion and review. That's where the entire publishing apparatus actually works. The current publishing system is a series of sieves (I'm sure you know this, so bear with me)--the agent is the first filter, separating competent writing from the dross. Then the publisher sifts through the agent-represented material, and the reviewers/critics further sift through the published books (at this point, getting your book reviewed by the NY Times or other big publication is key to making sure your book gets noticed).

The result is a selection of what, for the consumer, constitutes "vetted" material worthy for consumption. As problematic as the publishing establishment is (with its biases and vectors of control and so forth), it does provide this one function, which, without it, would in my opinion disallow a lot of young, talented writers from ever getting their work out into the public sphere.

Who would Kickstart a novel that nobody's ever read from a writer nobody's ever heard of? How could one discern that potential novel, which could be a piece of crappy fanfiction or the next Gatsby, from the thousands and thousands of others that have also been offered for funding?

I wonder (and I genuinely don't know the answer) whether filmmakers like Ramin Bahrani and Cary Joji Fukunaga would have ever gotten their films financed through a Kickstarter method.

You say, "Make enough money that you can engage in your passion without ever expecting to get paid," and that's sensible advice, but as Paul said, "Some people must devote more of themselves to their art in order to realize it."

Films, even low-budget, independent ones, can't be made unless major risks (whether on the part of a financing party or the filmmaker herself) are taken, simply because the way they're made demands total commitment the part of the filmmaker. If someone is designing a small plastic toy, she can afford to work on it in bits and pieces, fine-tuning the design and measurements and so forth. But for someone like Ramin Bahrani, who has yet to sell out, as far as feature work, I imagine that the revenue he collects from his films is put toward keeping him in a position to create more films, to compensate him for the relatively greater risks he's taken with his life and the relatively more intense labor he's has to endure. In what way(s) would the desire to be compensated intrude on his creative process? It's really hard to say and to argue one way or the other. It's just a personal, subjective point.

Anyway, you say: "I firmly believe that the best work can be performed when people undertake it with absolutely no expectation of being compensated; rather, the best work comes from the desire to reward others with something you thought up or made. The pleasure of doing a thing comes from it being well received."

And while I think that's a good way to create good work, I don't think it's the only way, especially when artistic demands vary so greatly. It's the point you made how how economic incentive would change the way I write. I just think there's a way to simultaneously be practical about the economic potential of an artistic work (this potential being a key to whether a filmmaker can keep making films and maybe even more ambitious ones that would require even more money) and retain artistic integrity at the same time.



Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 05/23/2012 06:21PM by gingaio.
gingaio Wrote:
>
> But here's the thing. A Kickstarter system
> wouldn't work for books unless, as Paul mentioned,
> the books are written by authors who've already
> published and made a name, no matter how small,
> for themselves. The difference between a book and,
> say, a designer-driven plastic toy, is that it's
> very easy for the potential customer of the latter
> to take a look at some pics and say, "Okay, I want
> to fund this." On the other hand, the possible
> enjoyment of a book is often based on credible
> opinion and review.

> Who would Kickstart a novel that nobody's ever
> read from a writer nobody's ever heard of? How
> could one discern that potential novel, which
> could be a piece of crappy fanfiction or the next
> Gatsby, from the thousands and thousands of others
> that have also been offered for funding?

To play GCrush's advocate here, I think the internet has great advantages for the writer who is beginning their career today. There's an intriguing parallel to the older system under which a writer could, by publishing short stories in magazines, build enough of a name to sell a novel. Today, any individual website can serve as a literary magazine or as an anthology of stories, and anyone who wants to write prose can just put their work out there, promote it, and look for a response. That's to say nothing of the potential for people who blog or tweet or write in other unconventional formats, who may then harness the goodwill earned through those media to support their creation of a more traditional work.

A novel yet unwritten from a writer who has only worked in other formats is still a harder sell than a completed novel of which several chapters could be offered as a sample. But it's still better than nothing - still better than the chances of funding something that can't easily be produced without support like a film.

This seems to be working fairly well for cartoonists. Comics have an audience hungry for styles of work that don't often get a fair shake from publishers, and it's a medium well suited to demonstrating a creator's ability through a short story.

Of course, as noted, this does not carry over well to other media (film, probably music in most cases, video games of any depth) and other types of venture (toys, inventions, research). Such things have been successfully Kickstarted already (tech example 1, NSFW tech example 2), but the current state of crowd-funding is so new, and in such a state of transition and expansion, that we have yet to see whether many such projects will fail to deliver, and what the commonly accepted criteria for a project's plausibility will be in the future. It's yet to be seen how much people will want to see from a prospective creator before they trust them to the tune of their desired amount of funding, and whether the atmosphere for such ventures is characterized by skepticism or by support and acceptance.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
asterphage Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> To play GCrush's advocate here, I think the
> internet has great advantages for the writer who
> is beginning their career today. There's an
> intriguing parallel to the older system under
> which a writer could, by publishing short stories
> in magazines, build enough of a name to sell a
> novel. Today, any individual website can serve as
> a literary magazine or as an anthology of stories,
> and anyone who wants to write prose can just put
> their work out there, promote it, and look for a
> response. That's to say nothing of the potential
> for people who blog or tweet or write in other
> unconventional formats, who may then harness the
> goodwill earned through those media to support
> their creation of a more traditional work.
>
That's an interesting point. I was just talking with a colleague recently who noted that writers of our generation are going to live through the transition of what we know as traditional novels to something resembling traditional novels.

The economics for short story writers/novelists have worked like this in print media--for a writer who's gained some repute through short-story publications, a publisher will typically offer a two-book deal, the first for a collection of stories, most of which will have already been published, and a second book determined to be a novel. The rationale is that short story collections are notoriously poor revenue generators, much worse than the typical novel that doesn't even make its money back.

The readership in traditional print media for literary short fiction is tiny. You've got a handful of famous mags (New Yorker, Harper's, McSweeney's and a bunch of mags with readerships in the hundreds, if that). Readership for literary novels is somewhat less tiny.

I don't know how much less tiny the online readership of literary short stories and novels are, but I imagine it's not that much larger, relatively, compared to the number of literary writers trying to sell work.

The consequence is that in a more democratized system, those most gifted in self-promotion and Internet-promotion will have the best chance at Kickstarting things, so to speak. With diminished impact from the traditional literary gatekeepers, and with this 'net-publicity-driven system, it's going to effect some changes in the types and styles of writing that have more to do with online writing than printed long form writing. Whether that's a good thing or bad I'm not sure about. But it'll result in texts different from we've been accustomed to, and more reflective of our online culture.

Actually, this has shades of G's point about texts being communal in nature.

So I should qualify to say that non-traditional novels can and will arise from this system. I guess I'm as curious as anyone else to see what those novels look and sound like.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/23/2012 09:05PM by gingaio.
I don't think the size of the readership is the key thing here. When you look at magazine publication of short stories as a path to publication (whether literary fiction in said prestigious magazines, or, decades ago, the richer market for sci-fi or horror or mystery stories in magazines), the key audience isn't the total readership - it's the editors who will eventually agree to publish those two books. Getting anything into a magazine gets you through the first "sieve".

When publishing online, I doubt the readership really resembles the offline readership. Work solely published online by new creators will probably not be found through reviews, through portal-type websites, or anything like that, but socially, through your readers pushing it on their friends or social-networkees. The size of the audience isn't as importance as their dedication to your work and their willingness to spend money on it.

A rule of thumb bandied about by webcomickers is that the best you can hope for is that 10% of anyreadership, after reading your work for free, will be willing to spend money on what paid products you have to offer. A more realistic typical figure is between one and five percent. Beyond just marketing, I see a major challenge in persuading your audience that your work is worth money. One of the advantages of having an agent and a publisher is that someone else is taking this task upon themself, based on whatever qualities are self-evident in the work. For a creator who's creating in their spare time, this is yet another demand on of time and effort, one which is very different than the burdens of promoting a work that someone else is publishing or distributing.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
unless you're this guy



-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/23/2012 10:10PM by asterphage.
Attachments:
open | download - tumblr_lok6cyU5UP1qgn992o1_1280.jpg (273.5 KB)
asterphage Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I don't think the size of the readership is the
> key thing here.
>
I didn't intend to mean for it to be the key thing. But I have a feeling if I tried to explain where I was going with audience size, it would only complicate the discussion...
>
> When publishing online, I doubt the readership
> really resembles the offline readership. Work
> solely published online by new creators will
> probably not be found through reviews, through
> portal-type websites, or anything like that, but
> socially, through your readers pushing it on their
> friends or social-networkees.
>
Right. This is why I wrote: "The consequence is that in a more democratized system, those most gifted in self-promotion and Internet-promotion will have the best chance at Kickstarting things, so to speak. With diminished impact from the traditional literary gatekeepers, and with this 'net-publicity-driven system, it's going to effect some changes in the types and styles of writing that have more to do with online writing than [traditional/literary] printed long form writing." Not only is the readership different, but I think the types of "novels" that emerge from this new media will be different in some fundamental ways.

Paul, and I think generally you're a bright dude, but I think it also helps make these kinds of discussions easier if we go into them not with the assumption that the other person is inherently and diametrically opposed to us.

Anyway, thanks for Mr. Crush and Sanjeev and the rest of the board for putting up with all of this. I think in a lot of ways, Crush and 'Jeev are more optimistic than me, which is why I had a hard time seeing where they were coming from, even though a lot of it makes sense to me and I do agree with the ideals behind their ideas.

edit: I promise that for the next two years, my posts here will be either only toy- or Brony-related.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/24/2012 05:27PM by gingaio.
Hm.

I can't shake the feeling that overall, what I'm reading from some is the whining of the privileged, calling for some variant of marxism/socialism to 'level' things so that an ARTIST will have his true worth acknowledged as on a par with the teacher and the plumber and the CEO. Without concerns of money, with all needs cared for by the State, he/she would be FREE to finally EXPRESS their ART so the stupid masses would learn to love it.

Problem is, Art is contra-survival. It doesn't produce anything of value, in survival terms. OK, maybe clothing.

Only in an evolved civilized society can such 'non-productive' people exist. There has to be enough surplus to make up for that person not working the field or hunting or weaving roofs.

Harsh stuff. See, I APPROVE of art, of creativity. I know well that there's all manner of 'gatekeepers' both overt and covert and subtle beyond measure that has ground people down, turned art into product. Avatar was a good looking movie but it wasn't $500 Million good looking. And the fact that it made like $2 BILLION blows my mind. The lesson Hollywood learned? Spend more money and make damn sure you have a 3D version. And John Carter, a really good film, the best Barsoom we could have gotten, is judged a failure because it wasn't Avatar.

as to the problem of writing, we've had 'print on demand' for a few years now, and it's done jack squat in terms of 'liberating' the writer. Mostly because a print on demand book tends to cost more than a mass produced paperback. The 'gatekeeper' process does help new writers. I'll share one thing that popped up on my radar.

I'm sure the smart people here, at least some have read the Niven/Pournelle 'the Mote in God's Eye' and it's followup, 'The Gripping Hand'. There was much talk of a third novel to be done but it's been vaporware for years.

Except it isn't, I guess. Pournelle's daughter has written the third book.

[www.amazon.com]

I'm interested, but reviews have not been kind. It's self-published so no editor. What I've read about it, it needed an editor. It needed a Campbell or Baen to knock the rough edges off.

And while not print on demand, it does look to be sold via a 'vanity' publisher which in my eyes makes it a very classy fanzine.

So, it exists, but few know of it. For the life of me I don't understand why she didn't take it to Baen or Tor.

I dunno, I just think that while there's the appearance of new options on the horizon, to my eye it's just more and more limitations, squeezing ever more tight, losing so many important things that we are all lesser for.

Publish books on Kindle? Pay nearly the same as a physical book? nonsense. And what if you can't afford the fees for connection? That's not options in my book. My physical, leather bound, embossed cover book. :)

Ah, blah blah blah. I'm sure I'm a know-nothing.
gingaio Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Right. This is why I wrote: "The consequence is
> that in a more democratized system, those most
> gifted in self-promotion and Internet-promotion
> will have the best chance at Kickstarting things,
> so to speak. With diminished impact from the
> traditional literary gatekeepers, and with this
> 'net-publicity-driven system, it's going to effect
> some changes in the types and styles of writing
> that have more to do with online writing than
> printed long form writing." Not only is the
> readership different, but I think the types of
> "novels" that emerge from this new media will be
> different in some fundamental ways.

There are a few interesting points in there.

First... The functions of traditional literary gatekeepers (I like that term!) has been economic and I don't think they're necessarily going to go out the window. In fact, we might see a reversal of the flow of capital. Or at least a change in the current. I could easily see these gatekeepers working for audiences rather than writers. Like, charging writers a nominal fee to participate in an aggregating processes designed to promote their work and earn some kind of return on it. Imagine a Random House website where writers pay $1 to upload 2,000 words into an aggregator where readers can then vote up/down their work. Like DIGG, but for literature. And it could be tiered into levels of service. This not only handles the promotion of a work but keeps the gatekeepers business in play.

Second... Considering the issue of (self)promotion, hasn't that always been the case with "fine" arts? While artists haven't always directly courted the public, they must still court the gatekeepers. And, if the power of the latter is diminishing, is going straight for the audience meaningfully different?

Lastly... I agree that whatever works we see appearing in the next decade or so will be fundamentally distinct from what we understand as texts today. Our precious books are going to look like hieroglyphics to ensuing generations - things that can be read, if not really experienced.

> I think in a lot of ways, Crush and 'Jeev are more
> optimistic than me, which is why I had a hard time
> seeing where they were coming from, even though a
> lot of it makes sense to me and I do agree with
> the ideals behind their ideas.

I apologize if I came off as optimistic. I meant to sound more prophetically ludicrous.

I’m too cynical to think that the things we hold as important or interesting to ourselves at this very moment will persist long enough to truly benefit from the potential inherent in a fully realized post-scarcity economy. Think about it. If businesses, consumers, and technology finally realized a ménage à trois so harmonious that we could literally order prints of whatever stuff we wanted when we wanted, no one would fucking want the stuff we want now. And if they did, their interest would be considered so eccentric as to be subhuman. Imagine how surreal hoarders seem to us now, and then imagine how they would seem to people who grow up literally never experiencing the urge to save anything because they can always print/retrieve something when they desire. Because that’s happening right fucking now. The whole point of a post-scarcity economy is that we lose our traditional relationship with material shit.

This beautiful future is the death of everything we are.
SteveH Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I can't shake the feeling that overall, what I'm
> reading from some is the whining of the
> privileged, calling for some variant of
> marxism/socialism to 'level' things so that an
> ARTIST will have his true worth acknowledged as on
> a par with the teacher and the plumber and the
> CEO. Without concerns of money, with all needs
> cared for by the State, he/she would be FREE to
> finally EXPRESS their ART so the stupid masses
> would learn to love it.

I like it when people contribute to the discussion, though it seems like you missed the part where I wrote:

Note: I’m going to start using “artist” as synonymous with “author”, “composer”, “engineering”, and “creator”.

Which is perfectly fine. It was about half way up the page and, you know, it’s a lot to read through. I don’t blame you for missing it. But your interpretation of the conversation says more about you than it does about what we’re saying. At the moment, it’s telling me that you didn’t just miss that one sentence I wrote – you missed the gist of everything that’s being discussed. And, you know, even that’s fine when it’s funny. Like if Hillsy dropped a hilarious quip into this thread about queefing on piece of diecast to check it for zinc content. But it wasn’t even a little funny. And it was a lot disconnected.

If you want to take another stab at contributing, go back and re-read what’s been discussed. If you still arrive at the conclusion that there’s some Stalinist conspiracy behind 3rd Part Transformers, I promise to stop arguing with you and start personally checking the zinc content of any diecast toys you have laying around.
SteveH Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Hm.
>
> I can't shake the feeling that overall, what I'm
> reading from some is the whining of the
> privileged, calling for some variant of
> marxism/socialism to 'level' things so that an
> ARTIST will have his true worth acknowledged as on
> a par with the teacher and the plumber and the
> CEO. Without concerns of money, with all needs
> cared for by the State, he/she would be FREE to
> finally EXPRESS their ART so the stupid masses
> would learn to love it.
>
> Problem is, Art is contra-survival. It doesn't
> produce anything of value, in survival terms. OK,
> maybe clothing.
>
> Only in an evolved civilized society can such
> 'non-productive' people exist. There has to be
> enough surplus to make up for that person not
> working the field or hunting or weaving roofs.
>
I don't think I agree with this. Maybe in our current society "art doesn't produce anything of value", but throughout history art was often used in conjunction with productive objectives. For example, look at the statues and other depictions of humans on Classical Greek and Roman, Medieval, and Renaissance buildings. Paintings were used as early as the prehistory (cave paintings), often with the dual purpose of embellishing both history and the places they were displayed in (be they buildings or books), and educating/entertaining people. This still is valid today.

Most humans can appreciate objects on multiple levels: functionality, aestheticm, thether it entertains them or not, etc. Art is generally quite intertwined with the rest of society, and those that say it isn't often are using an extremely narrow definition of "art" that more often than not showcases a certain amount of hypocrisy. I.e. many right-wing organisations that criticize art as being a waste of money, 'socialist pet project', or examples of stuff produced by people who could better be shot, tend to put a lot of attention into the organisation of their movement, including certain sigils, colors, rituals, etc. This can (and should) also be seen as a form of art.

In our modern society we have people who proclaim producing "art for the sake of art". However, one has to wonder whether this is truly disconnected from the rest of the world as both proponents and opponents claim. "Useless" people have always been there. Many artists in past societies often are described as being quirky one way or another, not fitting into society perfectly. The same applies to a lot of scientists, but also inventors.
I believe the danger is that "society" as generally described is a construct that generalizes certain aspects of its definition...when the truth is that such an average aspect of society doesn't truly exist, but is better considered as a fluid multidimensional continuum showing various extremes of people who somehow stand out and/or are vocal about it, with a big mass of less extreme people in between. These are considered "useful", but a more detailed level of observation would probably reveal various levels of "usefulness" within this group.

Let's approach this from another point of view:

Is the fanaticism with which many sports fans approach their favourite team "useful" to society? The behaviour associated with it can be considered counterproductive to society's aims. Drinking and consuming unhealthy food leads to health issues. Riots may occur, during which property and people might be damaged. Cheating and black market sales might damage the economy. Sports events pollute the environment, both due to emissions (from cars, buildings, etc.) and noise (cheering etc.).
Looking at it from that perspective makes it seem like sports fans and the events they attend are not productive to society and therefore useless. Should they therefore not be supported?
No, because they also serve a positive purpose in society which generally outweighs the negative effects.

The same applies to art. "Useless" people don't really exist, except perhaps psychopaths and serial killers. But then you'd have to ask: Aren't mentally retarded people "useless"? How do you define a "useless" person? Doesn't it give rise to all kinds of ethical dilemmas?

> Harsh stuff. See, I APPROVE of art, of creativity.
> I know well that there's all manner of
> 'gatekeepers' both overt and covert and subtle
> beyond measure that has ground people down, turned
> art into product. Avatar was a good looking movie
> but it wasn't $500 Million good looking. And the
> fact that it made like $2 BILLION blows my mind.
> The lesson Hollywood learned? Spend more money and
> make damn sure you have a 3D version. And John
> Carter, a really good film, the best Barsoom we
> could have gotten, is judged a failure because it
> wasn't Avatar.
>
> as to the problem of writing, we've had 'print on
> demand' for a few years now, and it's done jack
> squat in terms of 'liberating' the writer. Mostly
> because a print on demand book tends to cost more
> than a mass produced paperback. The 'gatekeeper'
> process does help new writers. I'll share one
> thing that popped up on my radar.
>
> I'm sure the smart people here, at least some have
> read the Niven/Pournelle 'the Mote in God's Eye'
> and it's followup, 'The Gripping Hand'. There was
> much talk of a third novel to be done but it's
> been vaporware for years.
>
> Except it isn't, I guess. Pournelle's daughter has
> written the third book.
>
> [www.amazon.com]
> /0615434142/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338002
> 695&sr=1-1
>
> I'm interested, but reviews have not been kind.
> It's self-published so no editor. What I've read
> about it, it needed an editor. It needed a
> Campbell or Baen to knock the rough edges off.
>
> And while not print on demand, it does look to be
> sold via a 'vanity' publisher which in my eyes
> makes it a very classy fanzine.
>
> So, it exists, but few know of it. For the life of
> me I don't understand why she didn't take it to
> Baen or Tor.
>
> I dunno, I just think that while there's the
> appearance of new options on the horizon, to my
> eye it's just more and more limitations, squeezing
> ever more tight, losing so many important things
> that we are all lesser for.
>
> Publish books on Kindle? Pay nearly the same as a
> physical book? nonsense. And what if you can't
> afford the fees for connection? That's not options
> in my book. My physical, leather bound, embossed
> cover book. :)
>
> Ah, blah blah blah. I'm sure I'm a know-nothing.

The current society has opened up ways to publish art/books/etc. for people who are not gifted enough to actually be successful in a certain aspect. Often these people have a job and are useful to society in another way. This might seem negative in the first instance, because it apparently removes a filtering system that previously would have prevented these people from accessing the market. However, it also serves to reveal truly talented people who previously perhaps could not have been discovered.

It probably will self-stabilize somewhere in the near future.

--
SilhouetteFormula.Net
Sometimes I paint with a very broad brush. :)

When I raised the term 'useful' and 'useless' I was speaking in the most broad sociological sense, mayhap even in Marxist thinking. Useful = producing value for the State (village, tribe, family), Useless= merely consuming resources by existing, zero work-energy contributing to the well-being(safety, health, food, shelter) of All.

Note, please, even if I rant about someone as being a useless sack of skin that's just emotion of the moment being outwardly expressed and not a call for death camps.

I was speaking in a quasi-academic way, which clearly has no basis in reality. The core thought is you have to have surplus production, generally food, in order to support those that do, for lack of a better term, 'brain work'. This fits in with the curve of the concept of 'leisure time', when a person isn't working dawn to dusk day in and day out to maintain a survival lifestyle.

Which goes to what I said before. I did read everything and slow going it was. So much academic bullcrap, the kind or writing meant for filling out an essay with a fixed word count without saying much at all. Boiling it all down, one of the points was indeed 'it's not fair an artist has to make money and thus not be able to create 24/7, an artist shouldn't be corrupted by needing to be commercial' and I think my response is correct. Who 'covers' for the non-useful production of the artist if not the state? I don't recall anyone mentioning the old well-used system of the Patron, but that then makes it transactional and isn't that, then, corrupting the artist?

I think the 'desired world model' (because 'post-scarcity' just for some reason REALLY rubs me the wrong way. Do we say 'pre-plenty'? no.) that is hoped for is similar to the Confederation as depicted in the works of L. Neil Smith, and while I love his writing you just can't get a world like that without an already existing body of people seeped in the culture, so it's embedded not imposed. Perfect Societies require Perfect People, and it's as much a fallacy for Libertarians as it is for Marxists.

As to examine what I mean by 'useless' people, in today's world, I really have no answer. I'm afraid I get all 'slippery slope'. I think I'd like it if there could be a way to detect, and cure, problems with a baby in the womb. But then does that turn into increased infanticide as parents abort a child because it won't have the right eye or hair color, or maybe not be a tall as desired? and yes, that may be completely illogical. Surely if one can detect and fix, say, Downs Syndrome in the womb then changing eye color should be easy, I posit that a law would be passed that genenginerring can only be done to fix defects, not for vanity purposes, this to side-step the fears of eugenics.

But we don't really KNOW all about the human genome. It's possible that the genes that contribute to Downs Syndrome are in some manner survival related, in terms of the overall future of mankind. It's possible.

So what this have to do with micro-production? Not much, other than there is always going to be a barrier between concept and production. Yes, 3-D printers are getting cheaper but the resolution is still rough, and the materials are pretty damn expensive. What's needed is a partmaker that can produce 100% finished output, no smoothing or finishing needed. But even then it'll still be mostly a toy, as most folk really don't want to make their own toys. So a creator will need a large investment in technology in order to produce their toys, because farming out production defeats the desired image of 'creator completely in control', right?

I would discuss how some do their own soft vinyl creations but I'm sure I'm far too ignorant to be meaningful with that, altho I will throw out a 'assemble/paint the parts in exchange for pizza' party is NOT the same as our old school fanzine collating parties back in days of yore. :)
Gcrush Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> First... The functions of traditional literary
> gatekeepers (I like that term!) has been economic
> and I don't think they're necessarily going to go
> out the window. In fact, we might see a reversal
> of the flow of capital. Or at least a change in
> the current. I could easily see these gatekeepers
> working for audiences rather than writers. Like,
> charging writers a nominal fee to participate in
> an aggregating processes designed to promote their
> work and earn some kind of return on it. Imagine
> a Random House website where writers pay $1 to
> upload 2,000 words into an aggregator where
> readers can then vote up/down their work. Like
> DIGG, but for literature. And it could be tiered
> into levels of service. This not only handles the
> promotion of a work but keeps the gatekeepers
> business in play.
>
I can see that happening. But for now, the thing is, the literary establishment is predicated on this illusory notion of "merit" which is problematic in all the ways we've talked about when talking about what qualifies as high art.

On a more fundamental level, it's the notion that the writing that gets promoted, whether by agents or editors or critics is promoted because it's "good." It's why vanity presses are looked down upon, the idea that you had to pay someone to get your work out there instead of just earning your way in.

> Second... Considering the issue of
> (self)promotion, hasn't that always been the case
> with "fine" arts? While artists haven't always
> directly courted the public, they must still court
> the gatekeepers. And, if the power of the latter
> is diminishing, is going straight for the audience
> meaningfully different?
>
What I had in mind was the idea that the competition to publish, much like to competition to do a lot of other things right now, would turn into reality TV, so that the people who are most proficient at showing their asses in the most unsubtle ways would win.

The difference for me is that with publishing now, there's still more emphasis placed on the work itself instead of on the writer, unless the book is nonfiction or autobiographical, or the writer is famous. I just wonder how things would be if the traditional ways of understanding literary merit erode or disappear altogether.

> Lastly... I agree that whatever works we see
> appearing in the next decade or so will be
> fundamentally distinct from what we understand as
> texts today. Our precious books are going to look
> like hieroglyphics to ensuing generations - things
> that can be read, if not really experienced.
>
There was an interview with Kazuo Ishiguro some years back in which he talked about how the modern novel is already different from those written a hundred years ago. He talked about not feeling the obligation to describe everything the way that his forebearers did, before there was a Google to show everything that the novelist had to work so hard to illustrate for the reader.

> This beautiful future is the death of everything
> we are.

And this is what bugs me about where we're going.

SteveH Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sometimes I paint with a very broad brush. :)
>
You don't say. :)

> So much academic
> bullcrap, the kind or writing meant for filling
> out an essay with a fixed word count without
> saying much at all.

A lot of this discussion involved me, Crush, and (occasionally) Jeev trading personal anecdotes about art, with some other thoughts sprinkled in. A lot of this isn't really academic, unless by academic, you mean, "Stuff I don't want to spend time thinking about."

> I don't recall anyone
> mentioning the old well-used system of the Patron,
> but that then makes it transactional and isn't
> that, then, corrupting the artist?
>
CTRL + F + "Patron."

Though I think that might have been lost in all that academic word-count-filler bullcrap you forced yourself to wade through.

You know SteveH, you actually don't bug me. You never have, and I get bugged by a lot of people I interact with on the Internet. I don't know why that is.

I would try to discuss with you some of what you said, but I don't think you're reall interested in doing that anymore. You're sick and tired of the "writ more than SteveH" meme and people here have given you enough of a hard time in general that you just want to occasionally come into a discussion, blow your wad, and go.

To that, I'll say, Carry on.

I value the old timers on this board. Maybe it's because I'm becoming/have become one.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 05/30/2012 10:24PM by gingaio.
Well, it's pick and choose. I write because I'm interested and I care. If I didn't give a shit I'd just do nothing. Rather than doing copypasta and trying to dissect a single sentence and (intentionally?) disregarding context both here and from all I've written in the past I'm trying to ground aspects of the discussion in easier to digest terms, which may lead to sidebars of other discussion.

For example, fanzines. Fanzines were so much more interactive than today's internet fanfic culture, because of the 'gatekeeper' aspect. There was (and I think still is) an entire culture built around fanzines. A surprising number of fanfic writers have gone on to professional writing careers, and editors going on to pro careers.

But it all began with someone typing a story, taking it to an offset printing company and selling it to other fans. There was an evolution of the culture as I watched as home computers took over from the typewriter, as squarebound binding tool over from staples, as color covers started to appear and interior art was shot on photostats and not hand-pricked onto mimeograph stencil. There also arose editors who vetted writers for publication, and mad bidding for art at convention auctions.

I would imagine this is in line with the whole handmade 'post scarcity' thing.

But of course I saw the problems as well. Fanzine culture became VERY insular. Massive amounts of bitchiness. Lots of entitlement mentality. All the things we see today on the internet. I fell out of it sometime in the late '80s and I do wonder what the state of fanzines are today.

I do recall feeling odd because when American fanzines were just starting to do square glued binding over in Japan the dojinshi culture had been doing full color glossy stock card covers and square binding for much cheaper per-unit costs. :)
gingaio Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> On a more fundamental level, it's the notion that
> the writing that gets promoted, whether by agents
> or editors or critics is promoted because it's
> "good." It's why vanity presses are looked down
> upon, the idea that you had to pay someone to get
> your work out there instead of just earning your
> way in.

Yeah. I foresee that changing in the mainstream. It's something of a strange idea anyway, no doubt promoted by commercial interests, because it makes self-published work appear "unedited" when that may not be the case at all. Think of the many "classic" writers that would get browbeaten with the label these days - Wilde, Cummings, Sinclair, Twain, etc.


> What I had in mind was the idea that the
> competition to publish, much like to competition
> to do a lot of other things right now, would turn
> into reality TV, so that the people who are most
> proficient at showing their asses in the most
> unsubtle ways would win.

Sir, I refer you back to Wilde, Cummings, Sinclair, Twain, etc. as people who, given the limitations of their available technology, were adept at the manipulation of the sensibilities of public assholery to a degree that it helped to cement their status as "classic".


> The difference for me is that with publishing now,
> there's still more emphasis placed on the work
> itself instead of on the writer, unless the book
> is nonfiction or autobiographical, or the writer
> is famous. I just wonder how things would be if
> the traditional ways of understanding literary
> merit erode or disappear altogether.

Hopefully it will mean no more Malcolm Gladwell books.

The topic of literary assholes and book-not-author made me think of him. I've had otherwise intelligent people recommend his books to me and every time I've read through one I thought, "Wow, this guy is really good at reducing things to absurdly useless levels," and, "Wow, this guy gets a lot of his shit wrong." I'd like to take an irrational moment to point out this video in which he both reduces and mis-represents the word that is at the very title of the book he was promoting. According to him in that video, an "outlier" is a term scientists use describe phenomena that lie outside everyday experience. In saying this he jumbles statistical and lay concepts together, lumps statisticians in with all other scientists as if they use a mutually intelligible language, exoticizes the concept of "standing apart from some other body" as scientific, adds a layer of “everyday experience” to make it sound folksy, and then mixes it up with the negatively connoted “abnormal”. The fact that he’s connecting it with a discussion of extremely successful people also makes it seem like outliers are really “good” things when a lot of statistics goes into eliminating them from an analysis because they’re unreliable. Instead of his muddled answer he could have said, "An outlier is just something that stands apart." For a dood that's supposed to be a craftsman with communication, he's awfully clumsy.

I guess the above paragraph can be read two ways. 1) Gcrush has some absurd dislike of Gladwell’s work. Or, 2) If that post-scarcity publishing means authors on par with Gladwell get (rightly) lumped in with the rest of the crowd, then Gcrush sees the benefits outweighing the losses.


> There was an interview with Kazuo Ishiguro some
> years back in which he talked about how the modern
> novel is already different from those written a
> hundred years ago. He talked about not feeling the
> obligation to describe everything the way that his
> forebearers did, before there was a Google to show
> everything that the novelist had to work so hard
> to illustrate for the reader.

See, I thought it was Hemingway that said you can leave shit out if you think your reader will still get it.

Also, I’m going to point to Facebook as an example of a post-scarcity text and say, “No, people still feel obliged to describe lots of things in excruciating detail. Though probably not at all where we would appreciate it.”


> > This beautiful future is the death of everything we are.
>
> And this is what bugs me about where we're going.

Not me. The curiosity makes me breathless. Like feeling your feet get wet in a gently rising tide as you look up to see the thundering force of a tsunami a decade away bearing down upon you.

”Even if you knew what to do you wouldn’t know what to do. You wouldn’t know if you wanted to do it or not.”


SteveH Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sometimes I paint with a very broad brush. :)

Ah, I see. And here I thought your brushstrokes were just spurious inferences and gross distortions.


> Boiling it all down, one of
> the points was indeed 'it's not fair an artist has
> to make money and thus not be able to create 24/7,
> an artist shouldn't be corrupted by needing to be
> commercial' and I think my response is correct.

Uh, no. There’s a gulf of difference between saying that money corrupts art and saying that art created without the expectation of pay is better than the shit people come up with just to make a buck. This is like the difference between Jim Davis and Nicholas Gurewitch. While there’s the easy analogy of comparing compensation to whoring, I’d rather focus on a gentler example because I think it works better. It’s the difference between going out to eat at IHOP and having pancakes at home with your family. The former is all about the money, while the latter actually forces people into responsive social interactions. The waitress at IHOP kisses your ass for a better tip, bitches when you don’t leave 20%, and can’t do anything about it other than spitting in your food after you asked her to take the first batch of pancakes back because they weren’t thick enough. By contrast, your family members are free to cater to or ignore your bullshit, you’re free to contribute if you want something done differently, and everyone is there because (contrary to what they might say) they want to be. There’s nothing wrong with IHOP, but pancakes at home are more authentic even if the quality of the food is the same.

Does that make me a Marxist? Is it more privileged Socialist whining about getting artists and plumbers on equal footing? Or am I a batshit nutso for thinking that it would be cool if plumbers were artists instead of consumers in their downtime?


> I think the 'desired world model' (because
> 'post-scarcity' just for some reason REALLY rubs
> me the wrong way. Do we say 'pre-plenty'? no.)

Again, did you miss the tones of unease about this topic? There isn’t a unanimous “desire” for this model. In fact, it threatens the livelihood of many people involved in this discussion. And, uh, “pre-plenty” is not the obversion of “post-scarcity” – it’s just some antonyms you strung together. We don’t say pre-plenty because there have been periods of time when scarcity was genuine and not manipulated, and there will continue to be goods which retain meaningful scarcity despite developments in technology. Post-scarcity means a shift in the means of production such that some economies of scale disappear altogether while in others the marketing and consumption of goods are fundamentally changed. In other words, the means of production will have moved past the point where scarcity is considered inherent and things will be made, sold, and consumed without regard to the concept of them being limited. And let me point out that I’m not just making this shit up as we are already well into the midst of this transition for a large number of production systems.
Gcrush Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> gingaio Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > It's why vanity presses are looked down
> > upon, the idea that you had to pay someone to
> >get your work out there instead of just earning
> >your way in.
>
> Yeah. I foresee that changing in the mainstream.
> It's something of a strange idea anyway, no doubt
> promoted by commercial interests, because it makes
> self-published work appear "unedited" when that
> may not be the case at all. Think of the many
> "classic" writers that would get browbeaten with
> the label these days - Wilde, Cummings, Sinclair,
> Twain, etc.
>
And you can throw in Joyce, Proust, Stein, and many others as well who are now considered great.
>
> Sir, I refer you back to Wilde, Cummings,
> Sinclair, Twain, etc. as people who, given the
> limitations of their available technology, were
> adept at the manipulation of the sensibilities of
> public assholery to a degree that it helped to
> cement their status as "classic".
>
I remember seeing Tobias Wolff at a reading for Old School (a novel set at a boarding school in which an aspiring writer was mentored by visiting faculty, including Robert Frost and Ayn Rand. Hemingway was supposed to be the third mentor, but couldn’t make it [likely drunk] and instead sent a letter to the narrator warning him to stay away from “the sauce”). In talking about his own obsession with Hemingway, Wolff came to the realization that cool writers only did cool shit when they weren’t writing, that most of the time, they were being very uncool in front of a typewriter.

The thing is, with all the writers you mentioned, there’s still a discipline and devotion to the craft of writing of the kind that you and I value. They could still do the work at a high level. The Twain essay that I mentioned a while back, the one he wrote on Fenimore Cooper, is in my opinion one of the great arguments for linguistic precision in fiction. For the new writers in this age, what will they value in "writing"?

Certainly, being an asshole and a talented writer (and I can draw from personal experiences here) are not mutually exclusive qualities. I guess in thinking ahead to, as you say, post-scarcity texts like Facebook, it’s easier to get away with just being a talentless, or lesser-talent, personality and still get a lot of attention...but will really talented writers emerge in this new forum? Sure, why not. Most likely. Will it involve the kind of writing that you and I are accustomed to and value? I'm open to the possibility. In fact, one could point at writers like Joyce and Stein and Cummings as writers whom people in their time were apprehensive about precisely because they were doing such strange things to texts.

But could our written texts also end up being as vacuous and insipid as Facebook and Twitter promise?

I was just bitching to the Reverend, in fact, about how it seems that every time I start searching for sports news, I keep getting directed to Bleacher Report, and if I had a hundred dollar bill for every time I ran across an article that was chock full of not only writing, but content/factual errors, I may one day save up enough to buy part of an Oktober Guard set on eBay. There's an erosion of the value of accountability that goes hand in hand with an erosion of the value of authorship. If any sports fan has a "right" to report on the news, and if that forum becomes the top link in the search results over and over, then we're going to need some better filters.

> Hopefully it will mean no more Malcolm Gladwell
> books.
>
> The topic of literary assholes and book-not-author
> made me think of him. I've had otherwise
> intelligent people recommend his books to me and
> every time I've read through one I thought, "Wow,
> this guy is really good at reducing things to
> absurdly useless levels," and, "Wow, this guy gets
> a lot of his shit wrong." I'd like to take an
> irrational moment to point out this video in which
> he both reduces and mis-represents the word that
> is at the very title of the book he was promoting.
> According to him in that video, an "outlier" is a
> term scientists use describe phenomena that lie
> outside everyday experience. In saying this he
> jumbles statistical and lay concepts together,
> lumps statisticians in with all other scientists
> as if they use a mutually intelligible language,
> exoticizes the concept of "standing apart from
> some other body" as scientific, adds a layer of
> “everyday experience” to make it sound folksy, and
> then mixes it up with the negatively connoted
> “abnormal”.

Nice. This reminded me a lot of Steven Pinker’s critical, but relatively gentle, review of Outliers.

[www.nytimes.com]

Here’s a nugget:
“[Gladwell] provides misleading definitions of ‘homology,’ ‘sagittal plane’ and ‘power law’ and quotes an expert speaking about an ‘igon value’ (that’s eigenvalue, a basic concept in linear algebra). In the spirit of Gladwell, who likes to give portentous names to his aperçus, I will call this the Igon Value Problem: when a writer’s education on a topic consists in interviewing an expert, he is apt to offer generalizations that are banal, obtuse or flat wrong.”

> See, I thought it was Hemingway that said you can
> leave shit out if you think your reader will still
> get it.
>
You’re right, actually. You may be thinking about Hemingway’s famous
iceberg metaphor: [tinyurl.com]

> Also, I’m going to point to Facebook as an example
> of a post-scarcity text and say, “No, people still
> feel obliged to describe lots of things in
> excruciating detail. Though probably not at all
> where we would appreciate it.”
>
Good point. I should have clarified, too, by saying that Ishiguro was getting at the travelogue function of certain English novels, that they were a kind of National Geographic-with-a-story, if you will, for privileged Westerners who wanted a vividly described view of an exotic, sometimes dark world, or a world colored by dark people. Graham Greene, Conrad, and so forth. So it wasn't description from an aesthetic point of view, but from a very practical, information-driven one. That the novel now doesn't have to describe things for the purpose of fulfilling that function seemed like a pretty interesting point to me. (I may be inferring, too. It’s been years since I read that interview.)
>
> > > This beautiful future is the death of
> everything we are.
> >
> > And this is what bugs me about where we're
> going.
>
> Not me. The curiosity makes me breathless. Like
> feeling your feet get wet in a gently rising tide
> as you look up to see the thundering force of a
> tsunami a decade away bearing down upon you.
>
> ”Even if you knew what to do you wouldn’t know
> what to do. You wouldn’t know if you wanted to do
> it or not.”
>
I think you were the one who recommended I watch the film, and I did, over winter break a couple of years back. Saddest Christmas ever…thanks. Did we ever talk about this? I thought the film’s inclusion of the wife was a smart move (given her practical non-presence in the book). I guess the old man just isn’t good at writing wimmen.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/31/2012 04:22AM by gingaio.
Didn't Mark Twain have a problem getting published so he formed his own publishing house?

speaking of spelling, has anyone noticed that there's a LOT of people out there who can't spell 'segue' and for some completely dumb-ass reason use 'segway'? What's up with that?
It's the same reason idiots can't spell Santa Claus. There is a product with the name deliberately misspelled. In this case, it is a stupid scooter.

-Ginrai
Golden Gate Riot on dead trees at: [www.destroyallcomics.com]
Hey, did you guys hear about this CEO taking a trip on his own product, which then segued into falling off a cliff? /lame joke

What Ginrai said. Or they use some weird phonetical version of a word, e.g. "I would of walked" instead of "I would've walked".

--
SilhouetteFormula.Net
Ginrai Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It's the same reason idiots can't spell Santa
> Claus. There is a product with the name
> deliberately misspelled. In this case, it is a
> stupid scooter.

Yeah, I know what a Segway is. Only thing that makes sense to me is people write in too much of a hurry and let auto spellcheck just do its thing, and since Segway *is* a real word now...

And now, these messages!

(haw, see what I did there?)
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