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February 22, 2006 8:59 AM   Subscribe

Kottke ends the micropatron experiment. After a year (and $39,900), Jason decides that loafing around collecting paypal payments is just too much work.
posted by crunchland (156 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
BUT TEH H4X
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 9:00 AM on February 22, 2006



posted by Stynxno at 9:02 AM on February 22, 2006


thank god you've alerted us!
posted by shmegegge at 9:03 AM on February 22, 2006


Who is this kottke fellow?
posted by sciurus at 9:05 AM on February 22, 2006


$39k in voluntary contributions to a personal blog?
I'd like to subscribe to that newslatter.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 9:05 AM on February 22, 2006


I count it as $30 well spent. Thanks, Jason.
posted by stevis at 9:07 AM on February 22, 2006


This kottke, it vibrates?
posted by OmieWise at 9:08 AM on February 22, 2006


The implication in the post is that had he worked harder, he may have been able to make it work as a start-up. However I wonder if that was ever possible given the limitations of the individual.
posted by chaz at 9:14 AM on February 22, 2006


Content is hard. :(
posted by boo_radley at 9:14 AM on February 22, 2006


Bye kottke! Thanks for all the fish!
posted by zpousman at 9:15 AM on February 22, 2006


Kottke got no better in the year he was allowed time to work on it while other people paid him. In fact it continued on it's downward trajectory. I thought about contributing - if he'd asked say, 18 months earlier I probably would have, but I felt the site had been on the wane for a while when he came up with this. Maybe he realised this too. Still.. good luck to him.
posted by fire&wings at 9:18 AM on February 22, 2006


I'm glad somebody tried it.
posted by whatnot at 9:18 AM on February 22, 2006


In his post, Kottke says that maintaining the income would have been too much effort, yet he also says that 99% of that $39,000 came within the first 2 weeks or so.

By my math, that gave him another 50 weeks to concentrate on "coming up with a plan".
posted by Robot Johnny at 9:18 AM on February 22, 2006


Kudos to the Kottke for not adding advertisements. I hope he continues with that aesthetic philosophy.
posted by Marquis at 9:18 AM on February 22, 2006


I sometimes wonder how many times people need to click before they feel like a sucker.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 9:19 AM on February 22, 2006


I donated and I regret it. Maybe the error was on my part in assuming that Jason was going to do something different when his site became his job. Nope. The fucker took our money and headed to Europe, Asia, and other places, and did absolutely nothing different on his site. (I haven't had a vacation since 1997, and though I know that's not his fault, I know that many people were shocked at the amount of off time he took. I was one of them.)

As someone who supported him when the payment scheme was mentioned on Metafilter--when others were slagging him--I've changed my mind, and told him so in an email a few weeks back when one of his entries angered me enough to write.

He's doing nothing innovative and what he does others do much better. I truly think he intentionally duped his patrons. He's now made it that much harder for anyone else to try the donation route. I know for certain I'd have to think long and hard about donating to someone else. That's the worst thing about Kottke and kottke.org. For that, he gets a big Fuck You from me.
posted by dobbs at 9:20 AM on February 22, 2006


so he took in close to $40k in online donations and jetted off around the world?

this guy is my hero.
posted by dvdgee at 9:23 AM on February 22, 2006


Actually, I regret that I made this post more confrontational than it needed to be, for the sake of front page sensationalism... but since it was worth noting a year ago when he started it, I figured it was worth noting now, even though it breaks one of my own cardinal rules.

Since a new wave of bloggers pulling down the really big bucks (at Rocketboom.com, they are taking in $40k a week from advertisers for their 5-minute daily video blog). Jason should receive congratulations for pulling it off for a year, and now he can move onto more lucrativeand rewarding business models.
posted by crunchland at 9:24 AM on February 22, 2006


He didn't pull anything off.

Except taking money from people for very little in return.
posted by fire&wings at 9:28 AM on February 22, 2006


MetaFilter's 364-comment Kottke goes full time post.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:29 AM on February 22, 2006


Apparently, he only "pulled it off" for about two weeks, if Robot Johnny is correct.
posted by jenovus at 9:31 AM on February 22, 2006


way to read the links in the post, kirkaracha.
posted by jonson at 9:32 AM on February 22, 2006


Bro got $10,000 more a year than I'm making, and jetted off on vacations?

Must start own Big-Name Blog, stat.
posted by kalimac at 9:32 AM on February 22, 2006


Wow. Dude asks for donations from readers and promises to improve his site and AMAZE the audience; instead hops off to Asia and other faroff places on (largely) their dime.

That's profoundly great. This kottke, he's a genius.
posted by xmutex at 9:32 AM on February 22, 2006


Kottke doesn't have advertising? I don't know; it seems like some of his pages provide lots of pagerank to texas holdem, online casinos, and phentermine.
posted by brownpau at 9:37 AM on February 22, 2006


brownpau - That's pretty clearly Trackback spam.
posted by Marquis at 9:40 AM on February 22, 2006


Marquis: O RLY?
posted by xmutex at 9:43 AM on February 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


Bloggers, web cartoonists and other independent content providers (who have sizable followings) have been begging for money to provide content "full-time", with site improvements and added features, for years.

The number of times that I've seen these people actually follow through once they've gotten enough donations to make it a full-time job?

I can count them on the fingers of no hands.

Kottke taking the money and providing nothing in return is not unexpected or, IMHO, controversial. Anyone who has ever donated money to an indie webcontent provider hoping for something in return is pretty naive.
posted by solid-one-love at 9:44 AM on February 22, 2006


Maybe I'm naive, but after reading his site consistently for the past couple of years I've never gotten the impression that he would dupe his readers purposely. It was an experiment which failed, perhaps as much due to him as due to the climate. Maybe more to him. Either way, I didn't contribute, and after a year, feel that I made the right decision about that. The content on his blog was worth the same to me throughout the past year as it had been before.

I think the turning point came when he said he was going to evaluate his "remaindered links" more carefuly before posting them, in order to increase the quality, and nothing resulted except a lag between when I'd read something Metafilter and when I'd see it on his site, with no extra analysis on his part.
posted by cacophony at 9:45 AM on February 22, 2006


"Accepting micropayments" is the new "begging".
posted by xmutex at 9:46 AM on February 22, 2006


Ditto. Nothing different appeared on his site. The popularity of Kottke was linked to the early days of blogger, attached to a specific cultural trend. Now much of what hid did has been replaced by services like del.icio.us. I kept going back to the site, hoping for cool stuff to come out of it, and it never happened. Maybe artists do their best work when they're hungry.

Only one of his posts really pissed me off--the one about "why don't more people travel? Because they don't try hard enough." It had a very "let them eat cake" feel to it, and I occassionally tire of the entitlement vibe that a lot of single, 30-something bloggers exude.

So, just for fun, who is your alterna-kottke? i.e. a newer blogger, that is doing the things you wish the Kottke had done?
posted by mecran01 at 9:48 AM on February 22, 2006


I think he probably pissed off a lot of people with his content and travelling. He probably couldn't do it again. I mean, you've got to think that a good portion of the people who donated last year aren't planning on re-donating. What for?
posted by graventy at 9:49 AM on February 22, 2006


On reflection, I'm reminded of Paperboy, where mostly everyone subscribes the first time around, and then after you throw the news through everyone's windows, everyone stops subscribing. You're inevitably toast. I think something like this probably happened here. The paperboy isn't someone you trust after more than one screwup, and you're only going to draw in new subscribers on the second round if you were perfect the first time. And what's a linklogger but someone delivering other people's news...?
posted by cacophony at 9:54 AM on February 22, 2006


The Jesse Helms: "I sometimes wonder how many times people need to click before they feel like a sucker."

It took me eighteen clicks until you made me feel like a sucker.
posted by Plutor at 9:58 AM on February 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


I like Jason's blog. He's a fun pinata (mainly, I think, because he seems to take criticism in stride), and I've taken shots in the past, but I don't think he did anything wrong here. No matter what he did with the micropayments, he was sure to be vilified by every jealous blogger on the web.

I'm also not clear on how his travel was a bad thing, micropayment-wise. Wasn't the money supposed to enable him to do interesting things with the blog? Like, say, going to to a foreign country and blogging about it? Would you rather he blogged about staying in his apartment?
posted by Mid at 9:58 AM on February 22, 2006


I join the chorus of people saying that he really didn't live up to his end of the bargain after collecting the money. He took a ton of time off and, even accounting for all his vacations and personal life stuff, he appeared to put almost no time into the site. I can't believe that the sparse assortment of links and analysis he had could have taken more than an hour or two a day.

I think the turning point came when he said he was going to evaluate his "remaindered links" more carefuly before posting them, in order to increase the quality, and nothing resulted except a lag between when I'd read something Metafilter and when I'd see it on his site, with no extra analysis on his part.

Very true. Needing more time to "evaluate them for quality" is a huge load of crap. It doesn't take that long to see which links are interesting, and I never thought that, even with all this extra time, he was any more insightful with his link selection than an average blogger. I can count on one hand the number of links I saw on his site that I hadn't already seen elsewhere, usually days earlier. I bet a lot of his audience feels that way.
posted by TunnelArmr at 10:03 AM on February 22, 2006


As time goes on I'm becoming less and less clear on exaclty what "blogging" is. I used to think it was a very specific form of link gathering and filtering with comments (basically a one-person metafilter), and then I thought it was a type of general online journal-keeping, but now I think when people say "blogging" they really just mean "writing content for my website."

I was hoping to see something groundbreaking coming out of Jason's newfound freedom. Maybe a new type of online writing that would serve as a template for others, or maybe just more general commentary on the world and the web in particular, but that didn't really happen. He's a very good, very smart writer who has interesting takes on things, but that seemed to fade as the year went on.
posted by bshort at 10:05 AM on February 22, 2006


So, just for fun, who is your alterna-kottke? i.e. a newer blogger, that is doing the things you wish the Kottke had done?
posted by mecran01 at 12:48 PM EST on February 22 [!]


Well, you said it yourself: del/pop, del/pop/$topic_of_interest, digg, reddit, here, etc. The group aggregation power of these sorts of sites offer far more interesting things than any one blogger is capable of, imho. I don't understand donating to one guy, when there is just so much damn content out there.
posted by jikel_morten at 10:05 AM on February 22, 2006


Oh, some OTHER Kottke.
posted by HTuttle at 10:05 AM on February 22, 2006


Surely the whole affair is more of a comment on blogs. I interviewed metafilter's matt a year ago for a piece in the financial times. He said: "Together, the ad revenue from all of my blogs represents a pretty decent salary but I've been very lucky. I'd like to stress that there are a few dozen people at the most who can be like this - everyone else will make $5."

It's true he was talking about ad revenue, but the point still stands Everyone dreams of their blog making their fortune (while, of course killing off old media). But actually virtually no one makes money out of blogs. What's more, many of those that do have done so because their blogs have been bought by old media.
posted by rhymer at 10:06 AM on February 22, 2006


I remember reading when he wanted to go full time. What a joke, I thought. Here's a young dude asking for free money to keep doing exactly what he had been doing for several years - maintain a personal weblog. I gaped in awe as he had the audacity to travel around the world on this money, "live blogging" as he did so. I especially remember reading his report that the lightswitch for his Hong Kong hotel bedroom was in the bathroom. Now that's worth some serious cash.

I can't believe people gave money to him. What did they expect? Kottke.org times ten? How many links to Malcolm Gladwell articles can one guy provide in a week?

I read his blog from time to time, and never had any negative impression of him until he asked for money to take a year off.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 10:07 AM on February 22, 2006


The thing about Kottke is that a lot of the links he posts on his blog are links that are two or three days old, links that I had alread found on either Digg or here on Metafilter. I only read Kottke for the links that somehow I missed. Occationally though, he will post a good interview link or a good link to the New Yorker or something like that so for that reason I will continue to check out Kottke.

But donating?

For random links?

No.
posted by Po0py at 10:13 AM on February 22, 2006


I count it as $30 well spent. Thanks, Jason.

you gave that dude $30? holy shit! can I have $30?
posted by mcsweetie at 10:18 AM on February 22, 2006


Wow. Dude asks for donations from readers and promises to improve his site and AMAZE the audience; instead hops off to Asia and other faroff places on (largely) their dime.

That's profoundly great. This kottke, he's a genius.


Innit? It's like he's the Dave Chappelle of blogging.
posted by First Post at 10:24 AM on February 22, 2006


And yet a a remaindered link from Kottke to one of my sites last week caused a bigger spike in traffic than a link from MetaFilter ever did. Say what you will about the business model, the execution, or Jason personally, but his influence is unquestionable.
posted by mcwetboy at 10:25 AM on February 22, 2006


I sent him money because I wanted to pay him for what I'd already read, not for what I might read in the future.
posted by merelyglib at 10:26 AM on February 22, 2006


I read his blog from time to time, and never had any negative impression of him until he asked for money to take a year off.

I don't understand why people get upset at this for any other reason than jealousy.

So what? The guy asked for money and legions of silly people gave it to him willingly. There's nothing wrong with asking for money to do something, though there may be plenty wrong or at least mockable with people paying him to write about his lightswitch in a hotel.

Kotke asked for money to do what he has always done, which is marginally interesting, and he kept on doing it.

Kudos to Kottke, man of particular marketing genius. I mean... micropatrons. That's brilliant. If only the panhandlers I see all the time in Seattle would ask that someone become a micropatron.
posted by xmutex at 10:27 AM on February 22, 2006


(Wow, I posted like nine times in the original thread and they were all negative. I must have been angry that day.)
posted by smackfu at 10:28 AM on February 22, 2006


Links ripped off from Waxy and lazy writing with movie summaries is hardly worth the investment here.

Give me $39,000 and I'll write Kottke under the table. I'll give you detail, grit, personal experience, copious reports, podcast interviews. I'll expose stories and hear multiple sides of the story.

Oh wait a minute. I'm already doing this now. Jesus, I am one damn fool.
posted by ed at 10:30 AM on February 22, 2006


I donated. I was disappointed that the free-time-to-blog that the donations bought Jason didn't result in more of a leap in what he was able to do with his site. I don't feel betrayed; I don't feel upset at him. He's a profoundly decent guy who put honest and honorable effort into his blog; it just didn't work out.

Bloggers, like whales, take their sustenance from what they swim through. Free time can undercut the freshness of a blog just as much as the lack of free time can. Either way, the fruitful combination of fresh thoughts and reflections on those thoughts doesn't exist. (It's no surprise that so many genuinely successful bloggers are journalists and academics -- both groups whose 'day jobs' expose them to new facts and ideas constantly.) Jason's quirkiness couldn't flourish as well without the influx of inspiration. His analyses of weblogs were useful, but in the end they weren't thinks that only he could have done.

I took some time "off" once, largely on my own dime, in the hopes I'd become a more productive writer and have more time to concentrate. The opposite happened; indeed, it nearly killed my blog for good. I donated in the hopes that Jason would do better. He did, to some extent -- kottke.org in the micropatron year was better than what it had been. I liked some of what he posted, found some uninteresting, some wrongheaded. But his heart wasn't really in it, in a way that it appears he realized during the year and is quite apparent in his end-of-micropatronage announcement.

I, for one, wish him well in whatever comes next, and hope it involves something new and interesting to do with blogging.
posted by grimmelm at 10:32 AM on February 22, 2006


There's been an unidentifiable void in my life lately, an absence of an old, unnamed joy, leaving behind just the smallest hint of itself as the ghost of something great lost. And this thread has reminded me what that unnamed joy was:

Public mockery of Jason Kottke.

Thank you all.
posted by jennyb at 10:34 AM on February 22, 2006


"The guy asked for money and legions of silly people gave it to him..."

When I employ someone, I pay them after the job is done, not before. I doubt I'm the only one who did this. Fair payment for services rendered.

He does suck now though.
posted by merelyglib at 10:40 AM on February 22, 2006


And when it comes to the sense that Jason Kottke isn't good enough, interesting enough, productive enough, original enough, or what-have-you enough when compared with others to deserve $39,000 in donations to blog for a year . . .

He's the one who tried it. We won't ever know how he'd stack up with others in a head-to-head fundraising competition, because almost no one else tried what he tried. Anyone could have drawn a moustache on the Mona Lisa; Marcel Duchamp did. JK was entrepreneurial enough to try a micropatronage year. Good for him.

And if it really had worked out fabulously and been the obvious proof that the model worked and could be repeated, well, then, his micropatronage wouldn't be crowding out anyone else's, and many of those more putatively deserving folks would be doing exactly the same thing too. In that it worked for him for the year, but not sustainably so, he wasn't really taking anything from any of them.
posted by grimmelm at 10:41 AM on February 22, 2006


The saddest part of all this is that now otherwise seemingly intelligent and humane individuals are using words like "micropatrons" without throwing up all over themselves.
posted by xmutex at 10:46 AM on February 22, 2006


People get worked up too easily. He didn't force anyone to donate. He didn't even state firmly anything would change, just that his end goal was a better site. Today the site is more or less unchanged from last year. Meh. There are worse things in life.
posted by chunking express at 10:47 AM on February 22, 2006


Kotke asked for money to do what he has always done

I don't agree. I haven't gone back and read his original plea, but I do not recall it containing anything about the same old same old, which is why above I said that I thought he was going to use the full-time-ness to do something great. I liked what he did with the part-time-ness and assumed that with more time it would be better. It wasn't. I don't know if it was actually worse, but it certainly felt worse because now I had paid for it.

And for those saying "what did you expect: he travelled the world and wrote about it, which can be interesting" are you aware that he took some trips (I can think of at least one) during which he didn't do a single entry? They were vacations. They weren't working "offsite". I think this changed near the end because other bloggers had blogged about what a load of shit it was what he was doing--so when he went to Asia, he blogged from there.

I think he probably pissed off a lot of people with his content and travelling. He probably couldn't do it again. I mean, you've got to think that a good portion of the people who donated last year aren't planning on re-donating. What for?

Yes, I agree with this. He's making it sound like it's his decision when in truth I suspect he has no choice.

I mean... micropatrons. That's brilliant. If only the panhandlers I see all the time in Seattle would ask that someone become a micropatron.

This is why I'm so disappointed in the guy. He's taken what could have been an interesting model and turned it to shit. He did this by putting in sub-zero effort.

There are people who work hard online for their projects and Jason has now made it harder for those people to make any cash from it. He should be ashamed of himself for this alone. He knew that going the micropayment route was a big deal at the time--to do it full time and for it to be done by such a high profile blogger--and if he wasn't planning on doing it right (and I don't think he was) than it's irresponsible that he would go thru with it at all.

Public mockery of Jason Kottke.

I'm sorry, jennyb, but the guy deserves the criticism. As I said, I defended the hell out of him in that original thread. He's earned my scorn. I'm not gonna deny him it.
posted by dobbs at 10:49 AM on February 22, 2006


I can't help but wonder if he set $40,000 as his target for continuing the 'business plan', and fell $100 short.

And then I giggle.
posted by wendell at 10:53 AM on February 22, 2006


But actually virtually no one makes money out of blogs.

This is totally, totally untrue these days. BlogAds and AdSense have made any moderately successful blog a cash-cow, if they choose to turn on the advertising.
posted by Marquis at 10:56 AM on February 22, 2006


"you gave that dude $30? holy shit! can I have $30?"

You give that fucking nimrod $30 and I'll shoot him on general principle.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:56 AM on February 22, 2006


The only think kottke ever did that I liked was Silkscreen, and that's gotten pretty old by now.

And I wouldn't have paid cash money for it in the first place.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:56 AM on February 22, 2006


I blame NPR for training an entire generation of educated, middle-class, quasi-liberal Americans to feel that they should tithe for daily content of news and commentary.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 10:58 AM on February 22, 2006


Didn't read the site before and I won't now. Sounds pretty dull.
posted by delmoi at 11:02 AM on February 22, 2006


That said, I don't think there's anything wrong with just asking for money.
posted by delmoi at 11:02 AM on February 22, 2006


I wonder if he's going to pay taxes on that 40-large?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:02 AM on February 22, 2006


BlogAds and AdSense have made any moderately successful blog a cash-cow

Care to elaborate? Are there really single-person blogs which are moderately successful which would provide more income then a 9-5 for the person writing it?
posted by chaz at 11:08 AM on February 22, 2006


I wonder if he's going to pay taxes on that 40-large?

Shhhhh. I think you just blew that for him too.
posted by graventy at 11:11 AM on February 22, 2006


Sorry Marquis. Should have read virtually no one makes any real money. The kind of money you need to give up a real job.

Which isn't surprising. I mean the widespread adoption of cheap copying in the 1960s meant that potentially anyone could run a magazine. Blogging's easier still. But the fact is the vast majority of people aren't Andrew Sullivan et al. Nor, even if they were, would there be a market for them.
posted by rhymer at 11:13 AM on February 22, 2006


What dobbs said. I was looking forward to more interviews, weirder links, anything new and different. I'm disappointed in the results, and, while I'm not sorry I ponied up the first time around, I wouldn't re-up if asked.

I don't think this is going to make things harder for anyone else to try and run a website on subscriptions or micropatrons or whatever you want to call it. I think it will mean that anyone who does this will have to be disciplined and crank out content all the damn time and cannot coast on whatever reputation or audience they have. Jason coasted, and his business tanked as a result.
posted by RakDaddy at 11:13 AM on February 22, 2006


dobbs: How's that Internet hiatus going?
posted by terrapin at 11:14 AM on February 22, 2006



(Wow, I posted like nine times in the original thread and they were all negative. I must have been angry that day.)


smackfu: you got nuthin on me in that thread.

I'm glad Kottke's little experiment bombed, and I would just like to say "I told you so."
posted by keswick at 11:17 AM on February 22, 2006


I wonder if he's going to pay taxes on that 40-large?

Confucious say: Brag about salary on internets; pay government.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 11:20 AM on February 22, 2006


terrapin: good, though it might not appear that way in this thread. I've popped in a few times to ask for advice and I scoot about MeFi and Ask and Mecha for 20 minutes or so a day (while eating lunch)--which is how I saw this thread. Though I've mostly been quiet on the site since that MeTa post, I did feel it was necessary to pipe up here since I'd 180'd since being so vocal (and adamant) in that original thread.

But, in case you were asking sincerely instead of poking fun: writing's going well, thanks.
posted by dobbs at 11:24 AM on February 22, 2006


PurplePorpoise: I wonder if he's going to pay taxes on that 40-large?

There's at least a superficially plausible argument that micropatron tips are gifts, which aren't taxable as income. On closer inspection, though, it appears that "any payment for service, even though entirely voluntary, is compensation within the meaning of the statute." Rev. Rul. 64-40, 1964-1 C.B. 68. (And, honestly, I should have remembered that without having had to look.)

So yes, they are taxable, and thank you for inspiring an entertaining fifteen minutes spent looking through IRS rulings.
posted by grimmelm at 11:31 AM on February 22, 2006


I find Kottke's services to be useful, having only really used the site this year.

BTW, donation scam stories aren't complete without a mention of K5 and R. Foster's $50K sham.

That being said, basic game theory would show that without limiting access to the general public and providing an *actual* service (access) for content, then charging for said access is never going to achieve its actual market value.

Getting $40K/year doing what you love...right off the bat...isn't really a failure IMHO.

Regardless, he can go to Blogads, suck it up, and probably double that income without any real effort.
posted by wah at 11:31 AM on February 22, 2006


This Kotke, it has a terminal illness?
posted by iamck at 11:31 AM on February 22, 2006


This Kottke, it prevaricates?
posted by ed at 11:36 AM on February 22, 2006


Are there really single-person blogs which are moderately successful which would provide more income then a 9-5 for the person writing it?

I didn't say that most blogs necessarily earn more than a 9-5 job, but most blogs certainly don't require 8 hours of work a day. Working an hour or two a day to bring in enough cash to pay the rent sounds like a good deal to me.

It's hard to come up with lots of hard examples since Google's TOC prevents people from talking about profits, but turning to the (much less moneyed) Blogads network...

According to their rates, a blog like (the unknown) MotorCityRocks.com, for instance, - with about 4,500 pageviews a week, - brings in $250 week.
posted by Marquis at 11:37 AM on February 22, 2006


BTW, donation scam stories aren't complete without a mention of K5 and R. Foster's $50K sham.

There's no way you can call kottke's experiment a 'scam'. A 'sham' maybe, a 'shame' probably. But not a scam.

What was the $50k K5 and R. Foster sham? I have not heard of it.
posted by chaz at 11:39 AM on February 22, 2006


But, in case you were asking sincerely instead of poking fun: writing's going well, thanks.

To be honest it was a little of both.

I saw your AskMe post and then I saw your posts here and I was wondering if the writing was going well considering you had moving on your mind (I am moving house again and I find it very distracting).

But then I also couldn't help but poke fun considering you were giving kottke a hard time about not doing what you thought he said he was doing. ;) I should have clarified, but I am only joshing with you. Good luck with the writing and the move. Seriously.
posted by terrapin at 11:39 AM on February 22, 2006


Dude, he got almost $40k for his blog/vacations? Life hack!

(I'm goin' to New Orleans next week for a student journalism trip. I promise to blog about it if y'all pay me. Any takers?)
posted by klangklangston at 11:41 AM on February 22, 2006


Marquis— Motorcityrocks certainly isn't unknown around here. It's fuckin' huge. But they're also a multi-author blog, and one that has fairly significant hosting costs.
posted by klangklangston at 11:43 AM on February 22, 2006


K5 and the rest of it refers to the Kuro5hin website and a donations controversy. More here.
posted by Mid at 11:43 AM on February 22, 2006


Here's what he actually said he would do:

The goal is to use the increased level of focus and time to create a (much) better site. More time means there will be more content of a greater variety. Some days, that may mean more posts and more links. I'll be able to go to more (hopefully interesting) events in NYC (& elsewhere) and write about them. I'll have time do the occasional bit of real journalism, collaborate on neat projects like Dropcash, and do larger projects that require longer time scales to finish...dare I hint at a return to more 0sil8-like projects? (I dare.) And there are opportunities that I'm sure will present themselves as I settle into the luxuriant folds of full-timeness.

Did he do any of that? Probably not. But then I didn't give him any cash, so I don't care that much. The whole campaign always struck me as an "advertising sucks" political statement more than anything else.
posted by fochsenhirt at 11:44 AM on February 22, 2006


What was the $50k K5 and R. Foster sham? I have not heard of it.

Link one and two

Calling Kottke's plan a 'scam' was a bit harsh. I'm all for it, frankly. Hell, I even kinda tried the same thing...and probably will again. Personally I don't get the harshers going off, and attribute most of that to sour grapes, but the fact remains that doing something through direct donations is much more difficult that going the indirect route through massed eyeball exposure.

Not only difficult to start, but far more difficult to sustain (as noted by the "Kottke failed me" posts here).
posted by wah at 11:44 AM on February 22, 2006


I wonder if he considered the possiblity of the disgruntled masses when he started it? And if a guy in your town opens a store that sells stuff you like to buy -- say it's ice cream cones, and you managed to go in there once or twice and buy a cone or two -- if that guy decided that it wasn't working, and he quit doing it, and closed the store, do you suppose you'd be pissed at him for not being successful?

Frankly, I'm sort of surprised that he only made $40k. Our fearless leader has probably made more from Metafilter in the year where he vociferously defended his friend, and I don't see anyone bellyaching about not getting their money's worth.
posted by crunchland at 11:52 AM on February 22, 2006


Fundraising drives are about limiting the advertising on the site, which is laudable. But I've found that ad revenue -- particularly the kind that's contingent on traffic, like AdSense -- is most effective at keeping you in front of your computer and worrying about your output. Basic economics, I guess: ad revenue means that your income is more directly tied to your output.
posted by mcwetboy at 12:02 PM on February 22, 2006


That's because this site is ad-supported. We aren't paying in some sort of yearly donation scheme to keep this site running. I know there's been at least one MeTa about Matt not doing enough now that it's a full-time job, but that doesn't hold water with me. We aren't paying him to make this his full-time job.
posted by graventy at 12:03 PM on February 22, 2006


crunchland, if the guy had put a jar on his cash register that said, oh, I don't know: "Tips for Renovation Project" and regular patrons filled the jar expecting a better atmosphere, improved ice cream, and a larger selection of treats and then, instead, we show up and find the place closed while he heads off to Asia and then when he returns the only difference in the place is that he's now taken the jar down, yeah, I'd be pretty pissed.
posted by dobbs at 12:08 PM on February 22, 2006


"Kottke failed me"

Somebody put that on a t-shirt, pronto.

I didn't donate, but I do like reading Kottke. The only thing that rubbed me funny about this micropatron idea was the word "micropatron". I mean, the suggested "micropayment" was $30-- a subscription to Salon or Nerve or any number of other pay sites, magazines, etc. costs about that much, or often less than that. Something about using "micropatron" over "subscriber" seemed a bit misleading. But, he had the idea and the readership to pull it off, so more power to him.
posted by statolith at 12:14 PM on February 22, 2006


Somebody put that on a t-shirt, pronto.

In the future, all T-shirt referents will only be recognized by fewer than 5 people.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:20 PM on February 22, 2006


What a lazy bastard he is--and how insulting to all of you who gave. He didn't do a single one of the things he said he would (see fochsenhirt's quote above), and he coasted for a year on that money.

It's sad, and it really has ruined it for good people who might want to try this (there are many, esp on the political side, who could make a go of this)
posted by amberglow at 12:20 PM on February 22, 2006


I never thought kottke's site was worth paying for, but the whole business model is just dumb anyways. I don't think Kottke ruined much of anything for anybody. The original concept of a patron is (1) very different from what Kottke and other beggar-ware followers did (2) doesn't scale even when implemented correctly. The magazine model might work better for bloggers except for the fact that magazines tend to scale up and not down. Instead of rejecting advertising full out Kottke should've worked to form a new, more conscious relationship between his content and advertisers. But, heh, then he perhaps would've had to actually do some work and deliver a product.
posted by nixerman at 12:28 PM on February 22, 2006


I'm still waiting for jkottke to respond in-thread.
posted by banished at 12:28 PM on February 22, 2006


A lot of sour grapes over what Kottke tried, here. I think the problem is there wasn't a really clear plan in place from the beginning about why people would donate - if blogging is invariably a social capital experiment, donors give money because being a donor builds social capital with this guy. The problem is, it is easy to get a friend to give you $25 one year, but why should they give you the same money the next year? What is the increase in social capital between the first and subsequent donations?

What is interesting to me is that people did donate - what was the impetus for them to give money to a stranger? Did they think he was going to reinvent the medium? Did they want to see a link from Kottke's site to their own? Was it a way to interact with one of the big names in blogging?

He didn't do anything wrong, as I see it - if you need to place blame, place it on the people who gave him the funding to do this. And you know, I feel badly to see all this vitriol about it, and it sounds a lot like jealousy.
posted by kristin at 12:31 PM on February 22, 2006


banished: the a-list doesn't associate with plebes like us.
posted by keswick at 12:35 PM on February 22, 2006


kristin, I'm curious what you are suggesting we're jealous of. Please elaborate.
posted by dobbs at 12:54 PM on February 22, 2006


kristin: I donated because I thought Jason was going to try and do something cool. That's all. My sour grapes is the same you'd get from someone who pays to see a movie/band/shadow puppet show on the premise that it's going to be interesting and novel, and it turns out to be ass.
posted by RakDaddy at 12:59 PM on February 22, 2006


Paging Anildash, Ericost, Megnut, Sylloge, Mathowie... ok, not really.

That thread last year got me quoted (unattributed, of course) in freaking Newsweek. (and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt!)

Oh, and very funny, ed. (can we have a new cryptogram post one of these days?!)
posted by shoepal at 1:04 PM on February 22, 2006


If you love what you're doing, you'll do it whether people donate to you or not. I tend to be pretty suspicious of people who ask for my financial support to engage in their passion. Feeding people, buying hospital beds for kids with Luekemia, sure, no problem. But helping someone blog?
posted by slatternus at 1:08 PM on February 22, 2006


shoepal, that's ridiculous. They even appropriated the article title based on your quote. I love how the blog masses have no credibility or cleverness... until the media likes something and takes it without attribution.
posted by cacophony at 1:12 PM on February 22, 2006


Stranded far from home

Need micropayments to get home, please!

God Bless
posted by voltairemodern at 1:13 PM on February 22, 2006


I'm more pissed off that my macropatron plan/spoof never got off the ground, AND that someone else did it two days later and got buzz. BUZZ!
I spit on you, internets!

Never got into teh kottke... kinda dull, seemed to lack focus, and rarely had unique content. Our very own Growabrain, however, is still doin' what he does, and doin' it well.

Disclosure: My (three months dead)blog still get visitors from Growabrain for what was a very, very minor link, and the fact that he was a MeFite made joining up here all the more enticing.

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:43 PM on February 22, 2006


time for a SAVEKOTTKE.ORG!!!
posted by shmegegge at 1:48 PM on February 22, 2006


and another thing:

aren't micropayments when someone pays a tiny amount on a per unit basis?

the way the word micropayments is used in the book Reinventing Comics (shut up) for instance, and this is the first use of the term that I'm aware of, is that a web comic author could charge a quarter (or even less) for a strip, and maybe some minor subscriptin fee ($1/month) for archive access. Enough people wanting to read enough strips and it would theoretically add up. There's no reason to believe that it would work, but that's the model as I'm aware of it.

Kottke's version doesn't resemble this model at all. As someone else said, he asked for the cost of a magazine subscription. Do Time or Newsweek have micropatrons, then?

there's no reason to think that the micropatronage model would work, but kottke's "experiment" has nothing to do with that model. There's still room for someone foolish to try it out.
posted by shmegegge at 1:59 PM on February 22, 2006


I only bought a few shares.
posted by terrapin at 1:59 PM on February 22, 2006


schmegegge, I thought kottkes model was based on micropatrons moreso than micropayment, with patrons being an allusion to art patronage years ago -- a few people would make fairly substantial investments in the artists they enjoyed in return for their work. In that context, "micro" makes sense; less so for "micropayments" when your payment is around $30, so you may be right that that model still has a chance.

*waves at terrapin, wishes luck with his move!*
posted by onlyconnect at 2:47 PM on February 22, 2006


Well, I was surprised Jason didn't do more with the site. With the PageRank and readership he has, he could have done something really fantastically innovative, but it didn't really change much. True -- he didn't promise it would, just that there would be more of the same. I'm not too surprised there wasn't, though. It's hard to play the bleeding edge game.

But given the high quality of his audience (the few times he opened up comments, they were almost all excellent, and often recognizable names -- at least in web community terms), it seems like an opportunity that was wasted. If I were Jason, I'd be more personally disappointed by that than anything else.
posted by dhartung at 2:54 PM on February 22, 2006


*waves back to onlyconnect* Thanks!
posted by terrapin at 2:58 PM on February 22, 2006


For the sake of comparison, I am not a big league blogger by any definition -- nowhere near the ranks of Big K. I also put up a micropayments button over the course of 2005.

My experiences?

Donations were highest when the Donate! button was right beside links to download a PDF of collected writing. In other words, people were most generous when they felt they were getting something semi-tangible in return (even though they could download the PDF without making any contribution at all if they wanted to). A little less than 5% of people who downloaded a PDF chose to make a contribution, with the average contribution size being USD 10.00.

Donations not associated with a download peaked briefly whenever I mentioned I was having trouble paying bills, but the only real result of that is that I noticed the correspondence and therefore felt too guilty to mention money problems, because it felt like fishing.

Ultimately I made just over USD $5000 from direct donations over 12 months. In contrast, I was able to generate a similar amount of revenue in just a few months by offering printed books of my writing.

My conclusion: hanging out a begging button isn't usually worth the trouble. It makes you look a little desperate, and most people aren't comfortable parting with their cash without a tangible (or semi-tangible) product received in return. In my opinion, Big K. should've just collected his best posts into a Lulu edition and he could've made a lot of money without having any issues of conscience (i.e., "Am I spending this money appropriately considering the source?").

My donation button is coming off my blog the next time I update the template. The experiment was interesting, but not a sustainable way to fund a career.

Your mileage may vary.

Love,
CheeseburgerBrown
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 3:09 PM on February 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


dobbs, I think some people in this thread and the other one come across as sounding jealous of the idea that another blogger has the readership and influence to convince his readers to subsidize a year off to blog. Not everyone's comments sound that way, but some come off like they are a little overinvested in this project even if they didn't donate.

RakDaddy, I don't blame people who gave money for being a little bitter - its the people who didn't and are bitter that I don't quite understand. Also I bought and enjoyed your SoNewMedia book Grease Guns and Feathers - maybe YOU should be the next micropatron blog experimenter! You have done some great stuff online over the years.

In the end, I dunno - sometimes I miss the early web, before there was the idea of making money off of being a blogger. Where is the 2006 version of soulflare.com, you know?
posted by kristin at 3:30 PM on February 22, 2006


kristin: my writing group is planning on weird online stuff this year. There's got to be an intersection between the growing online audience and the shrinking fiction mag audience (or, at least, the shrinking number of print mags). We'll see.

Oh, man...SoulFlare. Now I feel old.
posted by RakDaddy at 3:37 PM on February 22, 2006


I'm surprised no one's started the FucKottke.com parody blog.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:54 PM on February 22, 2006


I like Jason's site, more for his links than his writing, which is able if workmanlike. His design sensibilities impress me, as well. It think it's a bit of a shame, though, as others do, that the grand experiment didn't bring anything really memorable, and it's ending with a fizzle, and that, as others have mentioned, there are many (many) who do more and arguably 'better' for the love of the game.

I repeat ad nauseum that money turns everything to shit, and though it didn't happen in this case, it certainly didn't gild anything either.

I really wonder how the pressure of expectations wore on him, and if that paralyzed him to some extent. Merely getting some very high praise of my own stuff from some people I respected greatly last year made me freeze, webloggically, like a deer in the headlights.

I figured it was worth noting now, even though it breaks one of my own cardinal rules.

*wonders what that rule is*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:57 PM on February 22, 2006


Oh, and my prediction was wrong. I'm not tingling with schadenfreude at all. Still envious, though, mostly that he could travel on the donation money, and a little resentful, because by gum I'd have written some mad shit if I'd had that opportunity.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:00 PM on February 22, 2006


kristen, fair enough. Though if I may edit your comment a bit, I think it would be a bit more accurate: "I think some people in this thread and the other one come across as sounding jealous of the idea that this particular blogger has the readership and influence to convince his readers to subsidize a year off to blog." For some reason (earned or not) a lot of people simply don't like Jason. Though certainly some people are opposed (or jealous) of the idea that anyone makes money off a blog (did you know the engadget guy is now a millionaire?), I think more of them don't understand the appeal of Jason in particular. I'm not one of them, obviously, or I wouldn't have donated in the first place. I suppose in short what bothers me about him now is that I trusted him to do something interesting with my/our money. He didn't. Simple as that.

sometimes I miss the early web, before there was the idea of making money off of being a blogger.

I understand where you're coming from. I ran a regular style blog from '95 to '97 (I think it was) and it was fun to do and the readers were interesting to correspond with, but in the end, it simply took too much time to maintain and I found the emotional payoff to be lacking. I needed to find something different to do besides blog. It took me a while, but I found it, and damn it's time consuming and emotionally draining.

That's essentially what I think the $ thing comes down to. For one of my previous projects, and for my current one, entries take me anywhere between an hour and (as with last night's) 5 hours to craft. They may not seem like they take that long as you can read them in a couple minutes, but whatever, good or bad, that's how long they take. I'm in a minority of people who can spend that much time doing something for nothing (financially) on a semi-consistent basis.

I will also keep doing what I'm doing until I can't. Either I'll run out of things to write or I'll have to get a real job. At that point, I can kill the project or scale it back. In my experience, neither of them makes the readers happy--and, again in my experience, they'll offer to pay for you to continue. If it's just a time thing, that might help; if it's an inspiration thing, it won't do shit.

I don't think there is anything wrong with someone doing whatever they can to get into that position. That is, until, as I believe Jason has done, they take their readers' money and they "run".

Afterall, no one *has* to pay. I didn't have to pay Kottke. However, when I did, I figured things would get better, not worse.

To me it seemed like Jason was fed up with work or lacking inspiration and he came up with the idea to blog full time for donated cash, figuring the "free" time would allow him to come up with whatever it was he needed to come up with to make himself more productive. But he didn't think it thru. He didn't realize people were expecting something (anything!) different for their donation. And, as I said, if it's a lack of inspiration, the $ won't do shit.
posted by dobbs at 4:06 PM on February 22, 2006


So what exactly did Kottke contribute over the last year that he didn't do in the previous five or however long he's been doing his hobby?

I never bothered to go to his site before his little micropatron bs and viewed it almost every day after that. From a person that finds what he writes about to be interesting for the most part, I still think it's barely in my top 20 of websites I must go to.
posted by my sock puppet account at 4:07 PM on February 22, 2006


Here's why I think my $30 micropatronage was worthwhile:

I estimate that I spend about 10 minutes/day on kottke.org x 5 days/week (while at work) x 50 weeks/yr (I figure I was out of town two weeks last year) = 2500 minutes or 41.66 hours / $30 = $0.72 an hour.

That's not bad for high quality linkage. Even if it was 30 hours total for $1 an hour, that would be fine with me. It's far less than what I'd spend to see a movie in a theater or even renting one for home.

Digg.com and those other aggregators lack a human voice that I like about an edited site. Fewer links is sometimes more valuable than more. They're a different product.

Would I donate again? I don't know. There is lots of competition out there for my time, but donation is always a gamble of sacrifice measured against future expectation. Apparently he didn't meet some people's expectations, but he met mine.
posted by stevis at 4:21 PM on February 22, 2006


Just to throw a wrench into all of this negativity... I made my own microdonation to Kottke last year (micro for me means $5) and it was worth it. I read his site daily because I think his links are more carefully selected and of higher quality than any other blog I've found so far (even MeFi).

Was his blog any better over the last year? No.
Did he post more often? I don't think so.
(He wrote some loooong articles, but they were too long for me to bother reading all the way through.)
Was it worth $5 of my money to keep him going? Yes.

All in all, I still read Kottke every day and am content with my small contribution, as I suppose many others are.
posted by kdern at 4:24 PM on February 22, 2006


I definitely agree about the big aggregators, which are functionally cool, but soulless. If it ever comes down to it, and the internet gets mostly taken over by cold proceduralism, I may well be happy to pay to have someone interesting "hand craft" a website with a human touch - though the thought that it might come to that someday is immensely depressing.

But Kottke's experiment seemed like it was of the "I can't write my novel till my government grant comes through" league.
posted by slatternus at 4:29 PM on February 22, 2006


Oh, I might as well come out and say it: I fucking hate cold procedural aggregator sites like DIGG, and I hate people who get excited by the prospect of automating the human touch out of the internet. I hope there's a conference room in Hell without windows or doors where they get to spend eternity in meetings.
posted by slatternus at 4:37 PM on February 22, 2006


Dear Dobbs,

In case you don't check your email, I was being very serious. I've never been able to fathom the Kult of Kottke (or most of those good old A-List bloggers*) and find the lavish praise curious, and his giant ego infuriating. The only MeFi threads I like better than the ones that mock Kottke are the ones where he simpers in to defend himself. I think in his heart he knows that he's mostly full of shit.

Love,
Jenny B.

*Not Matt H, however, whom I've always found to be most gracious, in person and on the web. Seriously.
posted by jennyb at 4:42 PM on February 22, 2006


I hereby coin "Kottke" as a new word:

Kottke: (v.) To solicit attention and support for an undertaking of grandiose proportions and then failing to meet the promised expectations. syn. laziness, welching (slang).

"Bob said he was going to landscape his yard if we helped him rake the leaves, but all he did was mow the lawn--he kottked us."
posted by fandango_matt at 4:45 PM on February 22, 2006


because by gum I'd have written some mad shit if I'd had that opportunity.

Better than your usual mad shit? Where do I send the check?
posted by eyeballkid at 5:07 PM on February 22, 2006


(sorry, I should point out that I was quoting st. w. chicken.)
posted by eyeballkid at 5:08 PM on February 22, 2006


The only MeFi threads I like better than the ones that mock Kottke are the ones where he simpers in to defend himself. I think in his heart he knows that he's mostly full of shit.

Marry me.
posted by keswick at 5:13 PM on February 22, 2006


I have... a theory.

Blogging is about to die, as we know it. The typical blog (which Kottke's should not have been, but was.) is unfortunately a collection of found links to other sites that actually have CONTENT. the premier versions of this format that I can think of are waxy and kottke, both mefites. I think this format is about to die. I think people like engadget's rojas (that's his name, right? I always get it wrong) are the early adopters of what blogging will be by necessity. It's either your journal or a reliable source of information on a particular topic. denton's series of sites, slashdot, engadget... they're where blogs are at and where they'll remain for some time, but kottke sites and waxy sites aren't going to be doing much more than being personal journals for much longer. It'll be where you go for links if you're exceptionally fond of the individual for some reason (like if that individual is or was a rad mefite) but I suspect such loosely defined places as boingboing (yes! even the invincible boingboing!) will find themselves under the gun at some point, unless they truly provide links to things you simply will not find anywhere else.

But the problem there is that providing that kind of content takes time and a ton of work. It forces the following choice: Either specialize and bust your ASS OFF, or recycle links you've found elsewhere. And reclying found links simply isn't going to interest people all that much. It'll turn your popular blog into the kind of site people only go to if they specifically want to know what YOU think, because maybe they're your friend or something.

I think that's what kottke found out. You have to actually provide something more than just interesting links to really devote yourself to this. I personally think he should have turned kottke.org into a freelance redesign suggestion box. His ideas for interface design and site design were really interesting. I first found his site when he suggested ways to improve OSX's expose feature. (I think waxy linked to it, actually.) But then he would have had to go and find several things to talk about every day in that area, and he would have had to work his ass off thinking about interface design and site design. So much that it wouldn't have been fun anymore. I don't think that's what he wanted. I think he wanted to just keep passing on amusing links, and he found out the hard way that no one wants to pay for your delicious bookmarks.

I think andy baio knows this, btw. I think that's why upcoming.org happened, and why he's a happy rich man, now.
posted by shmegegge at 5:31 PM on February 22, 2006


Some of the posts in this thread share a subtext that: "We, the Internet community, were extracting X posts/day from Kottke, of average quality Y before he stuck out the tin cup. All of you who gave $30 gut suckered, because he produced X' posts/day of average quality Y' afterwards, where X and X' are nearly equal and Y and Y' are nearly equal." That may be, but bloggers aren't just stones to be squeezed for maximum productivity.

As against a baseline of nottke (nothing at all), I was happy to pay the $30 for a year of kottke. My contribution was one part thanks for what he'd done in the past, one part encouragement for him to do the same for another year, and one part encouragement for his plan to do more. On that view, perhaps, I didn't get so much out of the last $10, but the $20 before that was money well spent.

The experiment was a very nice attempt at finding a model in which the monetary support for what he was doing did not commoditize the blogging. There are social issues with straight-up paying for content and with receiving content accompanied by ads. The former can make every post implicitly a bit of a sale; the latter can create the sense that the creator is beholden to the advertisers. The experiment was an interesting attempt to frame the support in a way that made both what he did and we did feel like freely-given gifts. That it didn't work out is a bit of sad news for everyone hoping that noncommercialized parts of the new information society can be supported without propertization.
posted by grimmelm at 5:37 PM on February 22, 2006


posted by shmegegge I think he wanted to just keep passing on amusing links, and he found out the hard way that no one wants to pay for your delicious bookmarks.

He didn't find out the hard way. He found out the $39,000 of other people's money way.
posted by fandango_matt at 5:38 PM on February 22, 2006


I think you're right, at least partly, shmegegge, but to take one of your examples, I get massive value from Andy's filtering, because what he's interested in is very similar to what I'm interested in (and to a lesser, different extent, Jorn Barger's links, too). That's actually less the case with Mr Kottke, although I've appreciated his quicklinks as well, for a long time. I've been sad that Andy's not been giving us as many quick links lately, actually, since he went to Yahoo! (Which does support your comment that it takes a great deal of time to winnow out the good stuff if you're doing it all by yourself.)

I always find neat stuff here and at digg and all the other community linkfiltering sites, but sometimes you find an individual logging their voyages around the web who has similar tastes and interests, and they're pure gold. There's definitely going to be a continuing value in that, no matter how the aggregators grow in number and influence.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:41 PM on February 22, 2006


Where do I send the check?

c/o wonderchicken industries, Somewhere in Korea.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:42 PM on February 22, 2006


stavros, I couldn't agree more. I read waxy regularly, or did when it was updated frequently. (I hold you responsible, mini-baio!) Kottke wasn't my thing, but I respected his thing anyway. I just feel like those sites are going to be niche sites, like the internet equivalent of indie rock zines, soon. I'm speculating, obviously, but I think they'll be great sites whose pagerank disappears the further we get from tha initial wonder at a lone websurfer fetching us TBOTW.
posted by shmegegge at 5:45 PM on February 22, 2006


Here's my idea for a t-shirt:


posted by fandango_matt at 5:49 PM on February 22, 2006


fandango_matt, I just called to tell you that I LOL'd.
posted by jenovus at 6:04 PM on February 22, 2006


To shmegegge's point about micropayments, I present a notable post from the original thread, which has stuck with me as the ultimate stroke of A-List blogosphere snobbishness, and an all too premature sign of the shark jumping that ensued. I also hereby declare my occasional, one-sided snark war against megnut over.

Ah Metafilterians, with your reactionary rants and inability to read beyond the first line of a post! No wonder all of us narcissistic a-list weblogers stopped frequenting this site years ago...

Can you people even read? Jason doesn't even use the word micropayment in his post. He proposes the concept of "micropatronage."

P.S. I'm Kottke's ex-girlfriend, am also suspiciously posting to MeFi after a long absence, and friends with sylloge and mathowie. We all have been in cahoots for a very long time.

posted by megnut at 1:47 PM EST on February 22, 2005
posted by VulcanMike at 6:44 PM on February 22, 2006


(I suppose it's only right to follow up with the later response.. I was just trying to keep the "read beyong the first line" rep up...)

Oh brother. How could anything with the statement, "all of us narcissistic a-list weblogers stopped frequenting this site years ago..." be taken as anything but a joke?
[aside from the obvious and embarrassing misspelling of webloggers]
posted by megnut at 8:12 PM EST on February 22 [!]

posted by VulcanMike at 6:49 PM on February 22, 2006


Hey guys, Kottke here. I'd just like to mention I have a weird discharge.
posted by cellphone at 8:20 PM on February 22, 2006


shmegegge: Blogging is about to die, as we know it.

Blogging is not one thing. It is a collection of wildly different social practices loosely united by a common set of technologies and formatting conventions. Some varieties of blogging may die (though I am skeptical) but most are flourishing.

In particular, those blogs that aren't dependent on cash influx to their authors to pay their expenses -- the overwhelming majority of all blogs -- will endure as long as their authors find gratification in the exercise. The collective logorrhea of internet-connected humanity seems more than sufficient to sustain non-commercial blogs. That includes link collections, personal journals, and blogs with actual "content."

I think you have a point (though I'm not sure whether I agree with it) when it comes to blogs that need revenue to pay their costs. They may be trapped in a version of the dot-com startup problem -- they need growth to pay the bills, but growth itself creates larger bills. Whether the equilibria are stable is a complex question.

It may be that the advent of systems like AdSense and its ilk means that the long tail of blogs is stable in its natural state. Blogs at every scale can bring in enough revenue per visit showing ads to pay the costs of serving the blog up for that vist. In that case, we'll have a 1/n power-law distribution of blogs and audiences (which we appear to have currently). Blogging "as we know it" may not be at the very head of the curve, but it will be stable and continue with none-too-shabby readership.

Just a possibility.
posted by grimmelm at 9:38 PM on February 22, 2006


We Have Donations
posted by matteo at 1:58 AM on February 23, 2006



posted by Dreamghost at 5:19 AM on February 23, 2006


I agree 100% with this grimmelm's post, and was already starting to subscribe to your newsletter even before you got to coining "nottke". Brilliant!
posted by onlyconnect at 7:49 AM on February 23, 2006


grimmelm, I agree with you completely on that score. What I was talking about was more the emotional and time investent of what we typically think of when talk about an A List Blog such as waxy.org or kottke.org. The technology will no doubt be around for some time and allow talented men and women to self publish successfully, provided they care enough to do the work every day. What I'm getting at is the idea that sites like waxy and kottke (as contrasted with engadget or gawker, for instance) really are looking like they're too much work for someone with a life outside blogging, at least at that quality. I say this because waxy is rarely updated anymore, and kottke was going to quit before he started his own savekaren campaign to fund himself taking a vacation for a year. (I'm being unfair, I know, but I'm trying to make a point here.) The point is that I think we'll find that the idea of a blog full of "whatever I feel like posting" that is able to sustain a readership will be fewer and farther between as the initial wonder of that kind of blog wears off. Anyone who wants and can pay for server fees can have a blog, regardless of readership. But if you don't think you're reaching anyone and you want to engage in your non-bloging life, you're simply not going to have the time or energy to really work at that blog. You won't be farming links as often, you won't be posting your own thoughts on anything as often, and people won't be reading it that often, resultantly. It'll just be your own privately hosted livejournal, and that's about it. That's why I said blogging "as we know it" is about to die. Not blogging. just the way we typically think of "A list" personal bloggers. No more Kottke, no more bifurcated rivets, no more waxy, no more wholelottanothing, no more Shmegegge's Awesome Space (I'm totally A LIST, asshole!) et al. I think Kottke's deal supports this. He wanted to make kottke into something major on the web, and he wanted people to pay for his time to do that, and he wanted those people to feel like they'd gladly pay again because they're easily getting their money's worth. But what he discovered is that he didn't really have or want a solid material offering to make to the public, and that absurd Kult of Kottke he'd hoped to engender didn't happen because, really, it's not like he'd been holding back all this time. There simply wasn't all that much more Kottkeness for him to dish out to make a real difference in the quality of his blog. To put it more bluntly, Kottke wasn't really interesting enough to merit a Kult. So he's not going to beg for money again, likely because he knows he's not going to get that much ever again by begging.

And this will be what happens to a lot of personal bloggers. I think a lot of people really bust their ass at their blog because they see a pot of gold at the end of all that work, where somehow them "just being them" will turn into money enough to quit their job. I think this is the first sign that that's simply not possible. When personal bloggers realize that, they're gong to stop busting their ass on their blog, and personal blogs as a whole will stop having much readership because they'll resemble liverjournals more and more. There will still be people reading good ones anyway, but they probably won't be as good as they once were, because it's too much work for too little return. They'll either make the next engadget, or their blog will just become a personal journal updated when they feel like it.
posted by shmegegge at 10:11 AM on February 23, 2006


schmegegge, I mostly agree with your analysis of personal burnout and motivation. It takes a lot to do anything creative seriously for a long time, and super-high-intensity blogging is long-term unsustainable for most people. A crazed few can continue doing it, but for many people it's more of a phase than a permanent calling.

I'm not sure that today's high-intensity folks won't continually be replaced by a new influx of others, so that there's a constant but constantly-changing population of high-intensity bloggers. I'm also not sure what the line between a sustainable and an unsustainable pace is (more than anecdotally). Finally, there are many people for whom high blogging productivity is genuinely symbiotic with their "day job."

Those thoughts aside, your sense of the overall arc of emotional and time investments has a lot of truth to it.
posted by grimmelm at 12:29 PM on February 23, 2006


yeah, it's a theory. who know what will ultimately happen. I hope you're right.
posted by shmegegge at 2:17 PM on February 23, 2006


I predict a massive resurgence of old-school bloggers way off in the future as we all head into retirement, become bed-ridden, and lose control of our bowels.

I don't know about you, but I can't wait.
posted by waxpancake at 3:24 PM on February 23, 2006


Oh, and I'm sorry Waxy's not as active these days. You guys nailed it: between my two babies (Eliot and Upcoming), something had to go. After all, I was never doing Waxy for the money or the traffic. It was just the manifestation of my compulsive web surfing habit.
posted by waxpancake at 3:27 PM on February 23, 2006


Ha! Man, if there were ever somebody who didn't need to apologize...
posted by shmegegge at 3:30 PM on February 23, 2006


I think that's really the key to it... babies. No one who has babies has any time to do anything else. My community website's social calendar (happy hours, bowling, movies) has fallen off precipitously in direct correlation with the number of babies the group is producing. What that has to do with Kottke, I'm not sure, though.
posted by crunchland at 3:31 PM on February 23, 2006


Upcoming is a cool name for a baby ; >
posted by amberglow at 3:37 PM on February 23, 2006


You could probably lose control of your bowels now, if you're that excited about it. Prunes should do it, or senna pods.

I have to confess I'm not a reader of Mr Kottke's work, but a few years ago someone on here suggested the "Kottke Index" or "Degrees of Kottke" or something that measured the number of link-jumps between his site and one's own, and I made the (ill-considered) remark that I had a Kottke Index of zero (as I knew that no-one at all had linked to my diary, on account of the fact that it wasn't very interesting).

Reading this comment, and as a joke Mr Kottke linked to it. He has a lot of readers, I have to say. And the statistics graph was funny to look at (Monday: 4 visitors; Tuesday: 2 visitors; Wednesday: 586 visitors; Thursday: 350 visitors - actually the figures might have been higher than that, I've forgotten the exact numbers).

As for why I was bothering to check the statistics of a site that I knew nobody visited, and, indeed, why I bothered to write a site that nobody visited, the answer to the second question is that it was a way of practicing the disipline of forcing myself to write something every day and also because I wanted to teach myself HTML and the answer to the first question is... well... I was probably very bored.

(I haven't updated it in years, by the way, though I still link to it from my user page.)
posted by Grangousier at 3:43 PM on February 23, 2006


crunchland wrote "I think that's really the key to it... babies. No one who has babies has any time to do anything else. .......... What that has to do with Kottke, I'm not sure, though.

Yes, yes, exactly! The babies. WHERE ARE KOTTKE'S BABIES???!?!?!?!? WHERE HAS THE BLOGOSPHERE'S CHILD SUPPORT GONE???!?!?!?!?
posted by VulcanMike at 10:05 PM on February 23, 2006


I sent Leo Kottke $30 and his music didn't get any better. Who do I complain to?
posted by stevil at 8:40 AM on February 24, 2006


Isn't every unnamed baby named Upcoming before birth? :)
posted by ed at 2:06 PM on February 24, 2006


nah--Cletus the Fetus! : >
posted by amberglow at 5:42 PM on February 24, 2006


BTW, I saw Leo Kottke a few years back and Duck Dunn was playing bass.
posted by stevil at 11:02 AM on February 26, 2006


fandango_matt wrote "I hereby coin 'Kottke' as a new word:"

Congratulations, fandango_matt... your coin is now a dollar.
posted by VulcanMike at 4:42 PM on February 28, 2006


We need micropatronage here on Mefi, *for the poster*. It would be "Hey, I liked your post, here's a dollar".

It would raise the bar for posts in a good way.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:56 AM on March 7, 2006


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