I think the problem for Joerg is that Conscientious isn’t the NY Times. I’m struggling to think of anything that Conscientious can offer that I couldn’t find elsewhere for free, and of an equal (if not higher) standard…..
Here is a rather typical response to the post about free I published a couple of days ago. Note that - just like most “debates” that involve technology - it doesn’t actually explain anything, and it doesn’t offer any solutions. It just repeats business mantras, that, once you question them, don’t make any sense (because for the most part, they employ circular logic - if logic at all).
It comes down to this: “There are people succeeding though without bemoaning the culture of free. They are the innovators, the early adopters, the thought leaders, the individuals who see this current situation as an opportunity not a challenge.” This is, of course, standard corporate speak (“opportunity not challenge”).
To pretend that opportunities cannot be challenges at the same time is naive; and filling your article with business buzzwords does not guarantee that your article actually makes any sense.
It’s really just the business equivalent of art speak: If you just add enough buzzwords (and snarky quotes from supposed experts) you can get away with saying nothing, offering no solution whatsoever (but a lot of bogus, unspecific assertions such as “There are plenty of content producers being paid and making a living because they regularly create compelling content, know how to retain a loyal following that trusts them and most importantly have a business plan.”), while pretending to be on the side of the vanguard.
Just one example, to compare blogs that operate in a small market segment with sites such as Boing Boing just shows that you haven’t even understood the problem.
It really is essential that we start to realize that if we want to keep a vibrant internet - an internet that has many, independent voices - then we need to get used to the fact that we have to support the people who produce the contents we enjoy. See, of course, it’s possible that there will be some very smart way to pay for contents that does not involve us paying directly. But somebody will still have to pay.
Of course, I’m not a disinterested party here - as you probably figured by now. This blog has been free - and it will remain free. But I want to expand the blog and turn it into what I do full-time, so I can produce more in-depth contents etc. For me being able to do that I need to find a way to make money from it.
If you want to become a full time publisher then you need to learn about the publishing business. It’s never been easy, and never will be easy to make money. There are numerous blogs out there that have created vibrant,sustainable businesses by publishing ‘free’ content, and a few have turned into mini-media empires: Boing Boing, Gawker, Talking Points Memo, Dooce, Mashable etc.
If you are publicly proclaiming that you need to “find a way to make money from it,” (monetize) then it doesn’t sound like you have much of a business plan.
Because you produce content and freely choose to publish it on the internet doesn’t mean you are entitled to earn money from it. And attempting to guilt content consumers into forking over money will never work. Publishing, art, entertainment have always been highly competitive industries where the vast majority of people end up failing, and in my experience consumers rarely have much sympathy for those that do fail.
The onus is not on the consumer. It’s on the content producers. Content consumers are not going to rise up and suddenly change their behavior because bloggers with aspirations of becoming publishers don’t have a business plan.
There are plenty of content producers being paid and making a living because they regularly create compelling content, know how to retain a loyal following that trusts them and most importantly have a business plan.
I can’t imagine any economic situation where consumers will begin to pay substantially more for products than they have for the last 15 years simply because the producers of those products are operating failing businesses. Yes, there’s a good argument for finding a model to fund local newspapers and investigative journalists without throwing them at the mercy of the market, but fine art publications? Entertainment? I just don’t see it happening because the competition is too fierce, and loyalty is fickle. If you believe the content you produce is so valuable that your audience can’t get by without it, then become the Wall St. Journal, see if it works.
This debate really has nothing to do with ‘free’ in my opinion, it has to do with business models. Newspapers, magazines and TV were more or less operating in an advertising bubble that popped once the internet came along. Add to that the fact that capable, talented, creative content producers have access to tools that were financially prohibitive before and it’s likely we’re seeing a correction in the value of labor.
All of this rests on the assumption that pricing of labor then was somehow more reflective of value then than it is now. And who’s to say that salaries and what people are willing to pay for production values aren’t simply being corrected to a level that is actually sustainable and reflective of how these businesses should have been run in the first place?
There are a lot of people sitting around doing nothing in between closings? Maybe you’re overstaffed. Writers can’t make six figure salaries anymore? Maybe writing captions for celebrity photos doesn’t warrant six figures. Ad rates are tumbling? Maybe creating content on the back of expensive photo shoots by brand name photogs and high-dollar word rates for recognizable bylines doesn’t work because the quality of the content and the value that advertising against it provides is just not high enough given the cost of production.
Maybe the previous iteration of traditional media was just a creative Weimar Republic. Maybe this is normal. - Elizabeth Spiers
There’s no question that content producers are struggling to find ways to sustain their practices but expecting consumers to begin to fork over their hard earned cash out of sympathy is not the right path. Content producers need to find new business models to put food on the table, and in reality, many will still fail because it is and always has been a highly competitive industry. There are people succeeding though without bemoaning the culture of free. They are the innovators, the early adopters, the thought leaders, the individuals who see this current situation as an opportunity not a challenge.
I could be wrong though, maybe the “somebody will still have to pay” rain dance will work and consumers whose attention is increasingly fragmented, who are mired in debt, who work longer hours, are being paid less, being foreclosed on, losing jobs, and lacking health insurance, maybe, maybe they will find it in their hearts to donate money to some lonely bloggers.
"If you can’t make money from attention, you should do something else for a living. Charging money for attention gets you neither money nor attention." - Seth Godin
What you can sell, what you better be able to sell, is intimacy. It’s interactions in public. Souvenirs. Limited things of value. Experiences. Memories. People will pay for those things, IF: your art is actually great and if you make it possible for them to buy them.
If it’s great, let it go. You’ll do fine. If it’s not great, figure out what great is and do that.
“I think the crucial difference is that curating should really imply more than a process of selection. Ideally it should not only be based on in-depth research into a particular area, but it should also attempt to contribute new ideas that shed light on some unseen aspect or that allow us to see things in a new context. When I think of the best curated photography shows over the past decade, they were all based on several years of painstaking research and all attempted to say something new about their subject. Curators also have a crucial role to play in terms of collaboration with artists. Just as there is some concern about self-publishing because it generally implies that there is no outside editorial input, exhibitions curated by the artists themselves tend to be messy affairs.”—Word of the Year 2009 | eyecurious
Do you think photographers love photographers too much? What I mean is...sometimes feels like photographers will love all the greats, and not have defined tastes like others might have about music or film. We blindly enjoy quality of the work rather than make distinctions of the style and content of work which we enjoy most.
This is a murky area for me because at this point I don’t think I’ve studied the history of the medium enough to really know all the sub-genres, movements, etc. But the more I get into it, and look at work, and talk to other photographers I do start to see the different shades in sensibility.
I am sometimes struck by how some photographers will completely deride a genre or style of work they clearly have no interest in. I don’t find much country music to be to my liking, but I rarely would go somewhere online and deride it. Maybe music fans do that, I don’t know.
As I have a tendency of doing, I always need to bring internet culture into this type of question because I think it’s becoming much easier for groups of photographers to band together and collectively define a sensibility. What I find interesting are the areas that overlap between groups, or blogs. I feel there is much unchartered territory out there but exploring it might be a lonely endeavor, either for a small band of nomads or a brave individual. Photography might be an inscrutable endeavor.
“The casual visitor to your photostream will land on your front page, and there we have rock stars, pretty girls in lingerie, raunchy images of beautiful people with sexy, wet skin - living the dream life that everyone aspires to. And then, at the top of your flickr stream - a photograph from the haiti earthquake - a blood red sky, a jaunty angle, and highlighted with flash, the battered corpses of two of the deceased. Do you know how I read this? Even though I know you, this particular photograph says to me - “Look at me! I am here, I am a photojournalist. I am tough and on the front line”. - Ben Roberts”—Haiti on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
“Mrs. Popova uses a meticulously curated feed of Web sites and Twitter followers to find each day’s pot of gold. She said, “I scour it all, hence the serendipity. It’s essentially ‘metacuration’ — curating the backbone, but letting its tentacles move freely. That’s the best formula for content discovery, I find.””—‘Controlled Serendipity’ Liberates the Web - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com
“What we’re dealing with now is not the problem of information overload, because we’re always dealing (and always have been dealing) with information overload…Thinking about information overload isn’t accurately describing the problem; thinking about filter failure is.”—
It depends on your objectives, the reviewer and how much they are charging. I know people that find them incredibly valuable and many others that see them as pointless. There’s no question that there’s an entire portfolio review infrastructure that generates money for people. The question becomes, would you better off spending your money on something else, or will the review help you achieve your objectives?