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Thursday, 15 November 2007


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I don't see the resemblance, but I do understand the ennui that leads to abandoning the "smoky loft" as he called it.



"I’m hitting the road and hanging up the blog. ...send me a letter—I’m sick of email."
Seems to me a bit of a hands over ears, la-lala-lala attitude to the modern world.
'Can't get with this new-fandgled fountain pen & paper - give me a quill and parchment.'
I really like all the new communications - I get to converse with a whole load more interesting people, rather than spending my time frustrated by the lack of like-minds around me.

Mike, I never thought of a blog as a paying job. I mean just having a blog to express yourself is pretty great, and to get paid too!? Isn't that asking for too much? It's a sign of the times I guess.

"Mike, I never thought of a blog as a paying job. I mean just having a blog to express yourself is pretty great, and to get paid too!? Isn't that asking for too much?"

What, you like working for free? I put a lot of work into this site, despite what it may look like sometimes. I don't think of it as a "job," but do you think I'd be doing all this if no one cared to read it? Not a chance.

Mike J.

Sorry Mike, I didn't realize that bloggers looked at it as "work," even though I'm well aware that it takes a lot of effort.

Also, I don't see a relationship between people reading a blog, and the blogger getting paid.

With that being said, and I'm afraid it might be another one of my "yahoo" moments, I'd love to see you make some serious money at this, but at the same time, see it as a priviledge, and not as a right.

I too hope that the blog will come back in some way in the near future. It was like the oasis that you described. It all kind of blew up after Alec posted the piece about photography on flickr, and then maybe the blog got a bit too serious (too many comments to keep track of and such) for him to keep up with, after all, he is a very busy photographer. Come to think of it, I don't know how David Alen Harvey stays sane with his blog...

"Come to think of it, I don't know how David Alen Harvey stays sane with his blog..."

Well, I don't know David so I can't say anything about him, but one thing I've noticed over and over again is that *many* successful photographers are very high-energy people. Some of them verge on being manic. A *lot* of them are just go-go-go types, not happy unless they're behind and semi-frantic and faced with long stretches of work.

Mike J.

There are a couple of comments above regarding getting paid for blogging. Apparently, there are people who don't like the idea. If Mike wrote this stuff in a column in a magazine, would you expect to read that for free?

Should novelists turn over their books to you for free? Should photographers give you their pictures for free? Television has advertizing; do you think that there is such a thing as free television?

We live in a funny old world. People expect to pay nothing for the work of others, but expect to be paid for their own work.

The financial model of a lot of the internet is similar to television, i.e. advertizing, but there are numerous sites that require subscribing. We have all had experience with these forms for decades in other media. Why do some people act as if the internet is somehow different from other forms of media?

Hey Mike,

Thanks for bringing Alec's Blog to my attention. Even though he's not continuing it, what's there is worthy of perusal.

More pointers like that would be welcome.

Robert, it seems to me that blogs are more like an introduction to whatever the blogger finds important, at the moment. As an example, when Mike acquired his HP B9180 pigment ink printer, he gave us a cursory review referring us to a magazine, to purchase, for a complete review, written by Mike Johnston. In this instance, if the complete review appeared in Mike's blog, I might tend to agree with you. The blog was more or less advertising for the real review, and advertising is usually a business expense rather than a source of income.

Some things are monetary assets even if not in legal tender. How can you put a monetary value on having a blog that generates thousands of readers, increases the bloggers fame, and essentially offers free advertising for the bloggers books, magazine articles, and art work?

Pray tell, what do you do for a living?

Mike J.

Pray tell, what do you do for a living?

Mike J.<<<

I'm a professional Yahoo. Thanks Ctein. ;)

Player wrote "Some things are monetary assets even if not in legal tender. How can you put a monetary value on having a blog that generates thousands of readers, increases the bloggers fame, and essentially offers free advertising for the bloggers books, magazine articles, and art work?"

I guess I am saying that the blog should be added to this list of "products", not kept distinct from them. It is not substantially different from them, after all.

Blogging may have started as an informal way for friends to chat (and continues to be), but it has also become personal publishing in very many cases. I'd say TOP is one one of those. When a site has this many hits it rivals newspapers in readership, and it's not surprising that it can generate income in similar ways as other publishing media. Moreover, you can probably make the argument that sites like should (try to) make money, that's it's a mistake not to. "Free" is an illusion; someone is paying somewhere.

The music industry is tending toward independent production, cutting out the middlemen, and publishing is doing something similar. I see it more as addendum than replacement.

Dear Player,

Unless one is of independent means, one ALWAYS evaluates whether an endeavor takes away excessive amounts of time/energy from making a living.

I vowed I would never write a blog. It takes exactly the same kind of mental energy that any other 'writing for publication' does, and I do not make such a luxurious living that I can take that from what I need for writing articles and books.

The reason you get to read my columns here is that Mike offered to pay me for them. It's a pittance, but it hits my bare minimum living wage.

If I were not being paid, I would not be producing a trimonthly column.

No one can *expect* to be compensated for their endeavors... but you can't *expect* them to provide them to you for free either. Count your blessings when they come, but don't think you're in any way entitled.

And, yes, monetary values can be placed on things like blogging. If, for example, you start a blog and you find that your book sales have doubled, or 25% offers of speaking gigs are coming your way, that's monetary value. Smart businessfolk can quantify that well enough.

I wrote POST EXPOSURE with no expectation it would directly pay for the time I put in on it, but I could be pretty sure its monetary value to me, including those secondary benefits, would justify it. As it happened, it *did* pay for itself directly. But that was a happy bonus-- I did it for sound business reasons that had little to do with merely getting checks from the publisher.

OTOH, I wrote DIGITAL RESTORATION mostly for the direct money (a second book does not get you the level of indirect rewards the first one does).

I like writing books and articles. I like getting critical acclaim for my photos. And ya know what? If my creditors would accept checks made out in units of "critical acclaim" I'd be totally happy to live a cashless life.

Can you arrange that for me? I'd be most appreciative!

pax / Ctein

I followed Alec's blog most every day, along with this one and a few others. He is a young, successful photographer with lots to say and a willingness to share. I think I'm a better photographer for following Alec around every day....not in a geeky way, but in a more thoughtful, "thinking about things" way. I suspect it got to the point that he asked himself "why am I putting up with all this s**t and doing all this work instead of spending time with my family, when I'm home?" And he travels a great deal. Hope he changes his mind.

Okay, here's the thing. (Maybe I should post this up top.) EVERYBODY who wants to read any part or particle of this website is ALWAYS welcome, and NOBODY has to pay a cent for the privilege EVER.

Sure, it is nice for me when readers:

1. Check out the advertiser's links
2. Take note of the advertisers
3. Buy something through a link
4. Make a donation

In that descending order of desirability. But no one is required to do any of those things even once and they are still welcome here as far as I'm concerned. Every single one of those things is voluntary and optional, period.

I think I will post this up top....

Mike J.

Thanks Mike, now you've made me feel even more guilty than NPR does each time they have a pledge drive...Are you Catholic?

Just kidding (not that there's anything wrong with being catholic)-- keep up the good work!

Fair enough Ctein, and thanks for setting me straight. After I posted my message here, I regretted it. As an amateur musician/ photographer, I sometimes lose sight of the fact that you and Mike create your "artworks" (whether writing or photography) for a living. It's your job, and you gentlemen need to be paid. Fair enough.

Unfortunately, I haven't figured-out how to live a cashless existence either, but a rental property and a modest stock portfolio keeps me afloat, and it does frees me up to make a menace of myself here, as well as pursue my hobbies.

Please accept my apologies. And thanks again.

Mike makes a good point about clicking on the advertisers links. If I like a blog or a website I will always click on the advertising links as I know this will be beneficial to the linking site. Doesn't cost me much effort & I might do no more than briefly glance at the linked site. It's one of the easiest things you can do to support a blog you like.

Sounds like

Dear Player,

No problem! I felt it was a fair question, so I gave it a fair answer, instead of snarking at you.

Truth is, the reason my friends here joke about me being commie pinko rat is because I really AM a commie pinko rat. If I had my druthers, I'd be living in a world where I could just do my art and my research and write my articles and books and simply give them to anyone who wanted them and folks would give me enough to get by on, just 'cuz they'd feel it was worth having me around.

To each according to his needs, from each according to his means. For real; it'd make me happy.

Well, shockers, I don't get to live in that world. I have to pay the friggin' bills. I may have to do things I don't always care for. Worse, I have to not do things I'd like to.

Got an email from a slight acquaintance in San Diego last week. His parents' house burnt down. Insurance gets you a new house, but it doesn't replace the family home. They managed to rescue some of his mom's clothes and a fair number of the most important family photos, water and smoke damaged but not fried to a crisp.

So he's writing me to find out if we can "work out some sort of a deal" to restore those photos. And I had to write him the equivalent of "no." Because even if I work for the minimum living hourly wage I need, it's gonna cost him at least $50-$100 per photo and that's gonna add up to many thousands more than they can afford. I can't give him the help I'd like to, because restoration takes time, and the one thing I can't squeeze out is more than 24 hours in a day. Either I can pay my bills or help him. It's a choice I hate, but there's not really a choice.

In the same vein, I know Mike would be thrilled if he could turn this into a full-time magazine, expanding the content and paying the contributors enough to let them write some really serious pieces on a regular basis. But he's gotta pay bills, too, so this is basically a spare time hobby that brings in some money to offset the time.

Imagine what this place would be like if he could devote full time and energy to it? Pretty damn wonderful.

But that ain't this world. We gotta pay bills.

pax / Ctein

possibly the reason for mr. soth's departure is management.

get a job dude! You are not selling prints by blogging and the boss man, Magnum does not want one of the elite socializing with the regular photo-folk. So get to work for the co-op!

I miss Alec Soth's blog mucho but can imagine that a blog is a helluva responsibility and a lot of work. Really, if a choice must be made, i'd rather he be out there creating a whole lot of new and wonderful work. Thanks Mike for all your efforts. I just learned more than i ever wanted to know about Bokeh, who knew? Now i do! thanks again and have a very Happy Thanksgiving this week :)

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