Thursday, January 09, 2020

My future plans, as recently announced on another site: more comments (major scale-back at the end of 2021)



OK, folks, it is time for a little candor.  Some visitors may know that I posted some details about my future plans on a sister Wordpress site Tuesday (Jan 7).

My content, since 1997, has comprised three books under the “Do Ask Do Tell” wordmark, a smaller booklet (“Our Fundamental Rights”, 1998), a large legacy web site (at one time there were two of them), and about twenty blogs (one hibernating blog was discontinued in 2016 but the content was backed up). Aside from some book sales royalty and for some small advertising revenue (Amazon and Adsense) most of the content has largely been free for visitors.  I have generally been very stable in keeping the sites up and have, especially since about spring 2008, posted almost every day.   In the meantime, over the past eight years or so, a large video blogging industry of independent creators has evolved, many of whom depend on it for a living, especially ad revenue, and we all know that in the past two years especially, there have been many controversies.  My way of working is legacy and older and was dependent on search engine results, even without optimizing, and was quite effective with some issues (like gays in the military at first) for a number of years, especially under Web 1.0, even as my own techniques were primitive and simple and mostly text.

I am exploring some opportunities for activity that would bring actual revenue.  There is evidence now of some interest in the motion picture world (more of that later), as well as (finally) a novel that I have planned, and some music (two or three works in particular) that have lay fallow since the early 1960s (my youth) that I think have some genuine promise for performance if developed with modern software (like Sibelius).  All of these I am working on. 

However, I am 76 now (birthday in the summer) and I have to be concerned about support were anything to “happen to me” or cause me to be unable to work on the sites for an extended time.  I have to get to the point that others could integrate and work with my material. 

Moreover the political and social climate, with the multiple problems in the past few years (especially since Charlottesville) are making the sustainability of highly individualized speech, outside of organizations, questionable unless the speech pays its own way.  This is tangential to the better known problems with click-baiting, cookies, privacy, and supposed radicalization that results from channeling audiences into echo chambers;  that I don’t do. 


My own effectiveness is dependent on my self-branding, though my legal and nicknames, and through the “doaskdotell” mark.  I discussed these in the Wordpress blog post.  Essentially, I need to find a larger entity that can make legitimate commercial use of the mark by late 2021 (expiration is in early December 2021).  “Commercial” means that users pay for content either directly or subscription or contextual advertising, but not through patronage (or behavioral advertising). The deal of forming companies to offer bundled paywall packages (like magazine subscription packages of the past) would be desirable.  In my situation, I have custody of an inherited (now) grantor trust, not blind; so this would prohibit my “asking for money” as such (unless I somehow made the trust blind and a third party controlled disbursements from assets not in my name).  A desirable partner would be in the media business, possibly documentary film production and distribution.

All of this means that in the coming months, especially by early spring at the latest (say April) I will have to be spending much more time on the projects I mentioned above and posts will be less frequent.  I probably won’t do much filming of events not directly resulted to these efforts, unless I do find a business partner who could address these concerns.  Until that point, I must remain “the master of my ship” with my own work plan.

By the beginning of 2022, as I described in the Wordpress posting (and absent any definitive business partner), most of my blogs will go off line, although the text of the books will remain.  My online presence will have to be much smaller and be focused on matters that get genuine user or customer response that can be measured and reported. Social media participation may be much smaller.  It’s worthy of note that in 2018 Facebook actually tried to prod me to “sell stuff’ on my Facebook page (like Faraday bags, if I wanted to boost a post on power grid security, or maybe more activity with independent bookstores) so that advertisers would recognize me – again, a “skin in the game” argument, and I may take up this advice by early Spring this year.

Absent sudden external pressures and forces, even foreign, which I have some concern about, it is better for me (and a better reflection on me) to make this transition gradually and announce it well in advance.  I’ve seen numerous examples in the past where people have quit suddenly and “disappeared” from social media without explanation – maybe the “cesspool” effect, maybe the concern about being taken for granted personally or the “imaginary friend” problem.  These I’ve talked about recently.

Along the lines of this “imaginary friend” issue, I do get criticism, personally or in emails, not so much from articles or YouTube channels, that there is something wrong with weighing in on things publicly when you don’t have personal skin in the game, people who depend on you personally, or don’t belong to an already vulnerable group or won’t admit to such.  You guessed it, this largely comes from the far Left right now.  But it has come from the “family values” world of the evangelical right in the past.  (Twenty years ago, I really did have “skin in the game” with the “don’t ask don’t tell” issue, in a paradoxical, retrograde way; that’s a long narrative I have already presented.)  But there is something disquieting about claiming “influence” over things and yet not caring personally about the people who could be affected.  This is all part of a nebulous problem characterized by various slogans or memes: cherry-picking, “you can do better than that”, “I told you so”, “we can’t do this without you”, or, yes, imaginary friends.

True, I get asked, why don’t I volunteer for a progressive group and meet the people and learn to interact with them personally (and cross the class divide).  Why don’t I “raise money” for established groups first?  Well, with the trust situation, I have no right to ask for money for anybody (except in very limited ways from Facebook drives.)  Why don’t I take my turn staying with the homeless?  This is all heading in a Marxist direction but I get the point.  I’ll have more to say soon about the inheritances issue on the Retirement blog (since I have it for a while).  I do think we are headed for a world where individual speakers will have to demonstrate some kind of  personal "social credit" by international norms set up by the tech industry, which should not be tied to the idea of intersectiona; group oppression or status. Maybe the crytocurrency industry will provide some sort of partial escape hatch, but right now it is very clumsy to use. 
          
I did make some speculations on what I would do from 2022 and beyond on the other post.  One very important point:  No organization can speak for me, so I don’t donate to publications (Truthout is one of the most aggressive) that claim only they can provide me the news I need and protect me from politicians. Likewise, I can’t really speak for someone else.  I do welcome the opportunity to contribute specific material, whether about arts and music (I know a lot about the issue of performing the completed Bruckner Ninth Symphony, etc.), or some national security topics (I could help a lot with the legitimacy of the EMP and prepper issues).  No, I can’t get anywhere with the idea of having been a member of an “oppressed group” and needing special protections from the big bad world because of that (although I do get where some of the “safe space” crowd is really coming from). 
  
I will work as an election “judge” three times this year in Fairfax county (that is community service in effect—very long hours) but I will not contribute to political candidates.  I won’t work on political campaigns.  I never have (directly). There is something off-putting about saying you need a particular politician in office to protect yourself.

But we have a real dilemma about how political participation should work.  We have partisanship, and I hate the aggression of calling people and knocking on doors (and it could be physically dangerous now to do the latter).  But part of the reason for not only the extremism but also the corruption and lobbying, is that the center has left and let politics be hollowed out and left to the more polarized tribes.  Then individuals themselves become vulnerable, stuck “Under the Dome”.



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