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Thursday, March 10, 2005 |

Originally uploaded by the real janelle.
As I sit here in a giant pile of paperwork, late at night without overtime pay, packing up my stuff and everybody else's stuff while I do what I can to keep the office running, I think of Kottke. Of how I would like to make my little rambling and bumbling weblog a working proposition. How I'd like to effectively become a small business entrepenuer (who could spell sometimes), controlling my own destiny. Maybe I will be someday, but not today (although, oddly enough, that is exactly what I am about to do, but that's a whole 'nother story). And I can't help but admire him, especially since what he's doing is so crazy.

A blog with a few paid ads, and maybe a product placement or two (or many like Fark), this is no big deal as it's been done plenty of times (Can we please stop using Wonkette as the default example, please?). But a paid blog without ads, but "Micropatrons" instead? Now that is pretty couragous, because it's also pretty stupid.

By Kottke's own analogy, it's like PBS, only without the subsidized government money. And that's the problem. If you didn't get the memo that we broke away from England 200+ years ago, if you like left leaning news that's also a little behind the CNN curve (although, to be fair, it does dig a lot deeper), if you like children's programming that's sold out even more of its soul then Nick, if you enjoy hearing every single damn nature program end with how bad bad humans are destroying the planet, and if you enjoy watching pledge drives, then PBS if for you.

To put it simply, ratings are democracy in action, if people don't care they're not going to watch. And the only people who care about PBS are the people who aren't paying. I recall (ironically enough, I think it was a PBS piece) that NPR has a phrase for those people: the cheap 95. Only 5% of the listenners actually pledge, and finally NPR has moved in the right direction by catering to the 5%, which of course has resulted in a bland NPR. It also means that the audience is getting narrower, and NPR is going from alternative to niche. Ditto for PBS. And ditto for Kottke.

Not that this is a bad thing, mind you. Just not a financial bonanza. I suspect that, rather then increasing it's mindshare over the net, will in fact shrink to the point where it'll just be yet another small niche community who slap themselves on the back in a congragulatory manner for upholding the "quality" of the Net, while the rest of us are too busy watching American Blogger and wondering how Kelly "Since You Been Blogged" Yee could have been voted off the Blogging Island.

Which of course is all a very very very long winded way of saying that while I admire kottke and wish him good luck on his adventure, I have yet to see any really compelling change since he turned pro that would justify a $30 micropatron payment. Some of the tote bag items are nice, but at that point I'm just playing the charity raffle and I prefer to give my charity raffle money to actual charities (this is not meant as a snide put down, btw, just a technical issue of classifying what category my spent dollars fall into my budget). The links for the most part remain the usual stuff I see in Monkeyfilter/Metafilter/LYD/gothamist/caoine. J-walk Blog has far more interesting and original linkage going on. And the mini articles, while nice and reasoned, are too few and far between for my taste. And so while the quality has remained the same, the overall volume has not really increased in my perception (haven't done a rigerous study, so this could just be a perception issue).

As an end user, I have not seen enough value added since the change to justify a $30 donation. However, as just a guy who's contantly stressed and on the job and having no life, I can see very clearly how a step down in income would be worth the price to relax a little. Good luck kottke, I envy you (but no cash here).

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