Thursday, March 7, 2013

Well, hey, these things just snap right off

In the spirit of asking, all my books are now FREE (printing & shipping are not).
But if you like my work, please be kind enough to donate and/or tell others.

The cultural attitude about economic transactions is paradigm shifting, from an approach of demanding to one of asking. From producing, to creating.

In the old model, we focus on what we can get from customers; in the new model, our concern is what we can give them. What we give to them, and how, influences their reciprocation.
We see this illustrated in kickstarter type crowd funding and community donation projects.
Instead of requiring people to pay or trade a certain amount, we are beginning to request payment, and even letting buyers pay donations of whatever amount they can afford and think is fair. Reliant on, and hoping for, and trusting the generosity of strangers.

All that is well and good. But this phenomenon has inspired a negative side effect:
Our internet, digital culture has breed people who expect art for free, and think of art as disposable. That artists should give their art away, that the public is entitled to the results of our creativity. And if we operated in a gifting economy, that would be fine. I don’t do art for money or attention. I gladly give it away. I dismiss the concept of “if you are good at something, never do it for free.”
However, since we need to earn money, compensation is not only nice but necessary.
But the idea that creatives owe it to the world somehow; should expect and desire no compensation for their efforts? An assumption springs forth: the art inherently belongs to the public. Even to the point that the artist belongs to the public.

The transaction is no longer just about the value of product or service, but now includes value considerations regarding the seller, selling behavior and tangential benefits.
The product and service, in and of itself, is no longer deemed enough. We now are expecting bonus material and associative relationships.
We are now being conditioned to expect extraneous features and rewards for purchase.
What? It isn’t enough that we made a book or song or movie or whatever? Now you want us to pay you to buy stuff we make? We do not have that obligation. You expect too much.

I refuse to accept that the value of a product or service must be made to depend on the esteem consumers or audiences have for the creator or provider. That I must become your friend or role model, or give you bribes in order for you to be interested in my creation is absurd, and will not play that fool’s game. I am not going to be manipulated or coerced into making you care about me, just so that you will care about what I create. Because the art is not about me, it is about the art. Nevermind me-- what about the art?!
I insist that creators and providers must not be mandated, implicitly or explicitly, to sell themselves, in addition to (or instead of) what they create or provide.
You do not have the right to impose such an expectation or responsibility on creators.
A seller ought not be required to network and schmooze and blog and entertain their consumers or fan base, as well as sustain their primary offering.
Creatives have been penalized and hardshipped enough by consumerist and industrialist thinking. It is already difficult enough to be economically compensated for and by our creativity. To be respected and appreciated as artists or creatives in the capitalist mainstream.

For centuries, our society has been, and mostly still is, culturally trained to be productive, to achieve, to maintain traditionally acceptable forms of employment. If we aren’t, then we tend to be deemed lazy, unproductive, irresponsible or having no marketable skills.
No value.
But now, we are (thankfully) entering an era where productivity and “doing something” are valued less than creativity, imagination and thinking.
We are starting to accept the wisdom of working smarter, not harder. More than that, working and thinking creatively rather than mechanically or formulaically.
That doing “nothing” is not necessarily or exactly the doing nothing it might seem to be.
What qualifies as work, or a job, is expanding. What is the point of employment, if not to get money or be productive, or meaningfully engaged?
And if you can do this outside the confines of traditional definitions of “getting a job”, then why should that be any less acceptable or valid?

We have to be willing to invest in people—in their creativity, their potential and capacity for invention and innovation and imagining. To nurture and foster that spirit and skill of creativity as an ongoing process, rather than a singular event or tangible result. These are the productive assets of the future.

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