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Today, miintikwa posted Crowdfunding is not a zero-sum game.  I encourage you to go read it, though I'll add some additional thoughts related to her two main points here, because what she said was right on the money, but for more reasons and in more ways than she lists.

That post got me thinking.  There's so many ways that this is true--if you don't know game theory, the phrase "zero sum" means that the game has a winner and a loser, and the winner is ahead by the same number of points (dollars, goals, whatever) that the loser lost.  miintikwa is responding to people who were afraid she would lose patrons (and therefore money) if someone else in their circle of friends also did a one-card-draw.  One of the things she says is that the more people understand and accept crowdfunding, the more patrons there will be.  I think this is true.

The analogy to busking is very good here.  People who support musicians by tossing coins into the hat don't restrict their appreciation to only one busker.  And their actions make others more comfortable with showing their appreciation.  It's why musicians "salt" the hat or case--no patron has to think they are the first, or has to worry if they are guessing wrong about why the hat is there.  It removes some of the fear of doing something embarassing.

But the zero-sum language is apt for more reasons than that.  When you support a writer or artist here online, it isn't only about the money.  You have a bit less money and the artist has a bit more, true.  But also, you have the enjoyment of this work of art, and the expectation of more enjoyment in the future.  The artist gets feedback about which art her audience wants more of.   There's that personal connection--if you form a personal connection in a bookstore, it's with the store clerk or owner, not the writer or artist.  The owner of a small store will think of you when ordering books--but here, you can tell the writer directly what you would like to see more of.  That doesn't guarantee they will write it, of course, but as the repeated resurrection of Sherlock Holmes demonstrated, money can be a powerful motivator.

And that brings me to miintikwa 's other main point, and I'll quote:  "My skills are valuable, but I want to make them available to everyone."  What a wonderful, accurate, and succinct statement.  (Of course, that means I want to elaborate on it.)

In two parts.

"My skills are valuable..."

Everyone has skills that are valuable.  Everyone also needs to eat, stay warm in the winter, and so on.  Are my skills at composing business letters, organizing and filing and summarizing confusing piles of paper, ferreting out the points pertinent to the problem at hand, and obtaining more piles of paper to add to the file--is that really more valuable than my skills at storytelling and art?  If we go by a pure money standard, I'd have to say yes.  That has paid the bills for years, and probably will do so again in the future.

But my spirit rebels against that assessment!

In my heart, I feel my skills at art, at photography, at storytelling, at singing and playing instruments--my creative pursuits--are far more valuable, are more meaningful and important and vital not only to me, but to my society.

"...I want to make them available to everyone"

I want to find all the people whose lives I can make better, who I can gift with a smile, or a laugh, or that sensawonder feeling, or the relaxation and joy that comes from experiencing something beautiful and transcendant, or an insight that helps them solve a problem or transform their lives for the better.  I want to find them whether they hace a million dollars or barely two pennies to rub together. 

There's a place for concert halls, for sold-out performances, for book contracts--and don't get me wrong, I'll be very happy to get a book contract.  But there's also a place for busking, for performing where everyone can hear.

The hat is there because I do need money (everyone does).  But it is also there as an affirmation that I know my time and my skills are valuable. 

Also, even if no one uses the hat, it reminds me that I'm not just goofing off here, I'm working.  I'm working to make the world a little better, to cheer people, to give them a bit of rest from their woes or some bit of insight, in some small way to make their lives more beautiful and joyful.  Whether I get any monetary pay or not--I'm working.

If I can give you so much as a smile, then your day and mine are both improved.  And there's nothing zero-sum about that!

I'll add her post-script here too: [info]crowdfunding and [info]freestuffday are available communities to support if you want to be more active in these areas!


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 13th, 2009 08:22 pm (UTC)
This is marvelous! I wish I would have had more time to go on at length this afternoon, because all of your points are excellent.

*blush* And I think it says something about my assumptions about my 'audience' that it didn't even occur to me to explain zero-sum game. LOL!
Oct. 13th, 2009 09:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

There's a wonderful Shel Silverstein poem that ends "...and everyone wins"

I'm hoping to have my audience grow, and that I'll refer people outside the fannish/geeky community to these posts, or at least the best of them, eventually. I agree that I suspect most or all of my present LJ friends don't need that explanation. But being aware that I'm writing to future friends/acquaintances/fans as well as current friends does lead me to think I shouldn't assume such a large "common denominator". Though I may be underestimating the willingness of people to google things like that.
Oct. 14th, 2009 12:20 am (UTC)
Ah! That makes sense. *nod* I should consider that... and start using tags more. *laughs*
Oct. 14th, 2009 07:45 am (UTC)
Something else I like about crowdfunding is feeling like I'm somehow, even vaguely a "patron of the arts" I'm all for knowing that more of the $ I give goes directly to the artist. And I'm getting a unique, almost tailored in some ways, experience that I don't get with most of my music/reading from mass markets.

I understand what you are saying about the need to feel valued and to feel you are working even when you aren't getting paid. I have put a lot of time into my Cafe Press shop. It's earned me a tiny bit, about $25US which is less than the amount of time I've put into it. But I do enjoy doing it and maybe one day I'll be able to make a bit more. I still have to put the time in, show people I'm dedicated to it because if I'm not why should anyone else bother buying something?

The biggest issue I see facing crowd funding is getting yourself out to the hoards of internet users. There is a lot of fan fiction and, while I don't have anything against it it's not my cup of tea. BUT I think because of the prevalence of fan fict many of us are more nervous about blindly clicking on stories so it's harder to get in touch with a potential artist if they are hesitant to 'stop by'.

And sadly I think there's still too-large a contingent of people who somehow feel if you have to do it yourself (publishing/recording/releasing music etc) then you "aren't good enough"/"aren't professional". Which is sad, they are missing out, but their loss.
Oct. 14th, 2009 07:56 am (UTC)
So you think it would be useful to make it clear that it's not fanfic, that it's an original world. Any thoughts on how to do this?

From my point of view, it's not only their loss if I miss out on gaining a fan, for lots of reasons.

So I need to figure out how to help people be less hesitant. In addition to the fact that they can "sample" the story for free, of course.
Oct. 14th, 2009 09:08 am (UTC)
I know I'm not helpful. I'm not sure how to go about putting out it's a unique world and how to hook them. One thought is to put somenthing on your profile, links to the starting of each story with a very brief synopsis (ie--Fireborn: A story set in an alternate world of human evolution [a very rough example]).

I think your Tweeting/Friday Flash is a good idea, it's brought you more fans.
Oct. 14th, 2009 09:39 am (UTC)
I did not say you were unhelpful!

I ask these questions because they're the kinds of things I'm trying to learn, and I never know who will have an answer or insight. And, LJ being structured as it is, I might ask you and get an answer from someone else. (-:

Oct. 14th, 2009 09:49 am (UTC)
*hugs* Nah you didn't say I was unhelpful, I just felt that way! All on me, my feelings and not your words, sorry.

And the questions are fine :)

It's late, I should be in bed. *hugs*
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 15th, 2009 12:11 am (UTC)
It's always great to hear from people, to know people are reading. Thanks for stopping by!

If you do have stuff to add, or questions that are puzzling you about all this (now or later) please feel free to chime in. Sometimes knowing what questions to ask is the best step in figuring out useful answers.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


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