Thursday, June 8, 2017

Narrowcasting

You are completely right about everything.

Your point of view, your wit, your insight, and your unique viewpoint on the world...guess what? You are completely, unerringly, perfectly right 100% of the time. Always. No question. Your viewpoint is always the mainstream, right, and correct way of seeing the world.

I exist to confirm your superiority and correctness. I am the magic mirror upon the wall which tells you everything you wish to hear. How right you are. How your view of the world is the only one that matters. How morally superior you are to everyone. How intelligent, witty, and right you are in your beliefs.

How the only opinion that matters in this world is yours.

That is what you want to hear, right?

Now stare into that mirror and tell me what you see.

Here is the catch. If I spend all my time praising your with and intelligence, I am going to want something. It is only a fair trade, after all. Like any smart person, I know you aren't fooled by this time-old technique of praising your superior nature just so I can sell you a bottle of my snake oil tonic. No, that's not me at all. Why would you even think that? You, after all, are the superior intellect in this situation.

You need not question my motives. I heap this praise upon you because I know you are always, 100% completely right and morally superior to everyone else.

And I'm on your side, after all.

If my snake oil doesn't interest you, all I ask is you come back tomorrow for another generous helping of my praise and admiration. It is free, after all. And it is what you wish to hear.

Please, come back tomorrow and I shall tell you how wonderful you are again. How right you are. How your view of the world is morally superior. How the others out there, you know, those other people, how they despise the good and morally superior people like us.

You and me. Good friends.

See you tomorrow.

Friend.

There is no price for my sugar-covered words, after all.

Only a moment of your time.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Undefining Decency

https://youtube-creators.googleblog.com/2017/06/your-content-and-making-money-from.html

I find these sorts of thing fascinating, because it forces big business to define indecency. Granted, in this case, it is Youtube deciding what videos can make money from ads or not, but I feel it is not too far off from online booksellers defining what can be on the cover of a book, what can be said about it, and what can be inside the book itself.

With Youtube, it is a particularly tricky problem. Advertisers are putting 'their face' before potentially upsetting content. I am sure if online booksellers had sort of an 'ads in books' program we would be seeing the same sort of thing, there would be some books no advertiser would touch with a 10,000 word pole. Same with advertisers and videos, but from my experience video creators are getting hit very hard, and demonetization is cutting many down to 1/3rd of their past revenue.

Then again, this all feels like a 'until somebody complains' sort of rule that is nebulous enough to provide cover, like some booksellers' sort of 'what offends us is what you might expect' statement covering erotica.

But then again, this doesn't really prevent you from speaking - it just prevents you from making money from it. It is frustrating when producers of honestly edgy and truth-speaking content, such as game or movie reviews tossing an f-bomb in there to emphasize a point here and there. The video gets reported, the content gets demonetized, and all of a sudden all that hard work in providing something I enjoy (and advertisers I would support by watching the ad all the way through) goes poof.

There goes my chance to support someone I love.

There goes all that hard work in creating that video in the hopes of making a living from it.

And possibly, there goes another creator who can't afford to keep doing what I love for them to do.

It is the truth of ad-supported models, I suppose. Anything remotely controversial or upsetting (including most humor, I feel) will go away because it simply isn't advertiser-friendly enough. I feel the world is moving towards direct-support, like Patreon, and fan-supported content. I support several creators directly via these models, because this whole ad-supported mess almost guarantees the creators I love (for being edgy, brave, and sharp witted) will be punished for what they do.

And I find the money to do so by cutting the cord, dropping subscription services that punish indies, and cutting back my consumption of the same-old big-media sources. I have no use nor want to pay huge slices of my monthly cable bill to media conglomerates just so I can finance big-money sports, news, movie, or other enterprises that I never watch. I feel cable TV has become this reverse corporate welfare of never-ending price increases for more ads, less original content, and biased viewpoints being shoved down my throat.

And I pay money to these cable company people each month...because why?

I would feel guilty in cutting the cord?

I would rather this money go directly to the few people who enrich my life.

So I can make a difference in theirs.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Cost of Moderation

There are times I sit here wondering.

I am quiet, lost, alone.

The world has moved on, or maybe I was naive enough to think myself a part of it. Really, the perception was one of my own, I was an important and integral part of my own little world, one that I created that I had hoped people would enjoy being a part of.

Reflections of a simpler time, really. A roadside fruit stand in the age of Walmart. Those days where building it yourself mattered, where the small person could build a platform, and where the sheer mass of places like Facebook were not so much of the Internet in those days.

But I shouldn't take it so hard, these sorts of things fail every day.

We have rules, channels, visibility, what we can say and what we cannot these days. Freedom is not free, saying something does not guarantee anyone shall hear it, and the door is closing fast. I fear we are moving into a world of "the agreeable everyday" and worlds locked away because they may offend. What we can say and share shall be judged, hidden, and allowed into spaces based not on its merits or value to society, but because they cause the least trouble.

If I post something work-safe and agreeable to 90% of the world, that is by far easier and cheaper to moderate and filter than it is if I publish a work of erotic poetry. I feel the world in which we are moving into is not one where we are censored because of our ideas, but we are censored by the amount of backlash and negative feedback our words and ideas present to social media.

If someone complains and a customer service representative has to handle it, check the post, and moderate - I feel somehow that is a real cost. Multiply that by the millions and that is the difference between the red and the black for a quarter.

I feel it is cheaper to have the most agreeable content for the most people.

So is it right to say the ideas which challenge and upset the status quo are expensive? I am beginning to feel the content is not the problem, as the current state of society shall dictate what is agreeable and what is not. It is what causes the most outrage at the time. Given, some subjects shall always upset a group of people, like sex or nudity, so those exist in this permanent ghetto of expression.

And then I sit here wondering why violence is so agreeable to many. Why Hollywood gets away with hours-long computer effects movies full of violence between pixels and polygons, dehumanizing mostly, because there is no person there being hurt or an actor having to spit up fake blood. Movies that are less-interactive than video games, full of meaningless wow and eye-popping nothingness. Where legions of 'robots' or 'zombies' attack our 'heroes' because it is easier to have nation-less and race-less automatons be the bad guy.

I have seen them all before.

But then again, this is what 'agreeable' is nowadays. What can be posted on social media. What doesn't offend. Work safe and cheap to moderate since it is so mindless and pedestrian. One wonders if the fight for civil rights were to have happened today, would it have been swept under the carpet because it would have all been to costly to deal with. Too controversial. Too many people on each side fighting. The posts too hot, the flames too intense. This is taking up way too much customer service time.

If something challenges, even if it is a challenge to an unjust order, it is bad.

Because truly free speech causes people to be uncomfortable.

And the freedom of expression comes with a cost.

Inconvenience?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Safety Game

Imagine a world without fear or hatred.

It is difficult, given today's climate, as there are times when I fear we have become addicted to fear itself. We seek situations where all we do is fear, we respond to it so readily, and it feels like the most powerful force in our lives.

There are times I feel when we would rather live in fear and do something active to counter this feeling than we would living in a state of no fear at all.

After all, how certain could we be that we are 'doing something about it' if we lived in relative peace and security? So we put ourselves in danger just to rationalize that somehow our actions are controlling that element of risk and uncertainty.

Most likely? What we do has no cause or effect on what happens in the future, but I feel the net effect is we overall raise the level of fear for everybody so somehow we can come out ahead of others in this perverse 'safety game.'

It is like buying an alarm system for your house and feeling good when you hear someone else's house gets robbed.

The ideal situation? Nobody robs anybody and everybody feels safe and secure without having to resort to these behavioral and societal safety pins and deflection techniques.

It feels like we always have to have someone to blame, monsters under the bed, boogeymans, strange people in the neighborhood, the other people, the new gal or guy, people that are different than us, or a convenient scapegoat who we can prop up as an element of fear. And then like an opioid we pop into our mouths, when we don't get our fix of fear, we import sources of fear into our lives to get that hit.

It is that obsessive-compulsive behavior where we engage in self-destructive actions just so we can feel good when we do something to correct the situation.

And then we are back into the same-old same-old the next time we want that feeling of shame, purging, and salvation - like someone who drinks, feels bad about it, throws away all of their liquor, and then goes right back into the same old the next time.

And often they never realize how much hurt they are causing to others. But in this case, it isn't one person ruining their life, it is a world ruining everyone's lives.

And naturally, like fear addicts, with fear comes its nasty side-effect, hatred. You can't have one without the other. You see these hate-filled posts online and venomous words spread through the media and you sit here and wonder why. We come down off our high of fear and sink into the depths of hatred, and we need to get another fear dose going so we can dull the pain for a while.

And everyone plays right into the game, online news, things I see on the television, people spouting fear so they can generate hate, people using hate to sell you fear, and the entire world seems powered by the venom of this wicked byproduct of our times. You hear a loaded word slipped into conversation just to score a point or get a reaction, they really couldn't have meant that, right? Why did they just say that? And when confronted, they weasel back under cover and start the game all over again. To sew fear. To cause hatred.

I feel we are so numb to it the next level always must be reached, those peddling fear and hatred must amp up the dosage to get us to react next time.

There is no quiet, no settled matter, nor any notion of subtle and right. Cooperation and doing things for the better of us all are thrown in the trash because it would give ammunition to the other side.

Don't help them.

Fear them.

You know I'm on your side.

And at this moment, they try to sell you something because your defenses are down. Be it a narrative, an alarm system, pills, or anything else where money or power is traded to salve insecurity inflicted upon our psyches. It is one of the classic snake-oil salesman techniques, put on a global and also very personal scales.

I don't know where this is going, but I don't like it. We grow jaded and hardened to each other. Our empathy for each other dies under the weight of our insecurities. We seek to inflict damage rather than heal and come together. There is no greater good. There is only scoring points.

This horrible...safety game...is the one thing which I truly fear.

Friday, May 5, 2017

ASUS Chromebook Flip C302CA

There is something about a difficult choice that makes me want to buy, you know? If I had only one choice, like only the Samsung Chromebook Plus, this would be simple: I would wait. I have been waiting, great Chromebooks have come and gone, but now there feels like some real race here between these two equally capable machines and my mind is asking that question: which one would be right for me?

Now, I get a lot of use out of my old Samsung Chromebook 2, and I love the 11.6" form factor. The screen is not great on this machine, and upgrading to a full HD screen would make writing a lot more enjoyable. Jumping to a 12.5" form factor would not be too hard for me in portability, and I am used to typing on smaller keyboards so the narrow-ish and tiny-backspace keyboard of the Chromebook Plus is something I could get used to.

So why the ASUS now? An excellent trackpad, Intel chip, and backlit keyboard are the number one features here. Sure, the tablet mode on the Samsung is superior, it has a stylus, the screen is a 4:3 2400 by 1600 beauty, and the brightness is 100 nits higher - but if I want something for writing my heart says go with the ASUS.

Maybe.
On the Samsung, a 4:3 screen would let me see more of a document vertically than a 16:9. The keyboard though, even though I am used to smaller keyboards, my speed on normal ones is very high. This is more like a better tablet replacement, while the ASUS feels like a better laptop replacement. Since I am happy with my Fire HD 10 and I don't want to buy a replacement for something I am happy with, I may go for the laptop replacement.

But the bigger issue, if either of these were out all by its lonesome, I feel my pressure to buy would not be as high. There is something about a good horse-race that gets me all excited.

Or I could keep going on with what I got for another year and same all the thought and money.

My current state of mind? Leaning towards the ASUS strongly.

I am a writer first.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

World Press Freedom Day

http://www.un.org/en/events/pressfreedomday/

I don't mean to demean the true meaning of this day. To recognize those who lost their lives and freedom reporting the things we need to know in a free society. That is what this day means to me.

If you have been jailed for speaking the truth, or are afraid to speak or express your ideas because of threats or violence, this day is for you.

But then another part of me wonders about where we are. The reporters who are nothing more than mouthpieces for power, who are or were married into administrations past and present, and who openly act as agents for one political party of another to push "the message."

How can you be a 'free press' if you are beholden to power? The whole concept of 'press freedom' evaporates if you enslave yourself and your words to one side or the other, and then...are you really a journalist?

Press. Freedom?

I feel it goes both ways.

I come from a time where we held the ideal of objectivity and neutrality as sacred. If you reported 'the facts' your stock and trade on if people could trust you was that impartiality. Your reputation as a neutral observer of the facts mattered.

Nowadays?

It feels more like a cheesy professional wrestling promotion than it does the news.

Prescripted story-lines. Talking points. Heels and baby-faces. The larger 'theme of the quarter' coming at us like promos for the next pay-per-view. Predictable outcomes. Fake fights. Journalists coming on shows and talking like it is a wrestling promo to push one side or the other.

It's not news.

It is news entertainment.

But I don't want to damn them all, because I feel the great majority of reporters do great work - often in unrecognized silence. What we see in our limited viewpoints and who is out there in the world differs a great deal. There are good people out there to whom the ideal of 'reporting the truth' still matters. They sit on the front-lines of forgotten wars every day. They dare to report what they see and what they feel, without feeling beholden to a grand scheme or political group.

And they go on writing, filming, taking pictures, and sharing what they see.

For our benefit.

To keep us informed.

Think about those people this day, outside our "one channel" political blinders. World citizens. People out there sharing a part of our world with us. Maybe they don't work for "your news channel" but they still do great work, providing a unique perspective or look into a part of the world you may have never considered before.

Press freedom is something which keeps us, as a people, free.

And this day is also one to say to those so deserving...

Thank you.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Outrage Based Economy

Great ideas are inevitably polluted, and you can even say this about the no-so-great ideas too. Though the greatest ideas are the ones that survive the most tampering and interference.

From time to time, you will get a platform, a device, a movement, an idea, or any other 'next big thing' and you will see the potential of this thing catch people's imaginations and passions on fire. This could be a march for peace, a new social media platform, a new electronic device, a music festival, a meme, or any other 'hot topic' that everyone all of a sudden has to be a part of.

You have to be on there.

You have to share yourself with it or on it.

You have to make your voice heard about it, for or against.

You have to have one.

Whatever it is, it is the nature of being with it makes you a notch more important and relevant in the world in which we live. It is the nature of saying "I was there" and showing your peacock feathers to the not-haves or not-cool of the world.

For those of you that reject the notion of social media high-school popularity contests and taking a part in one, you can stop reading now. Go have a coffee and enjoy the rest of your day. But there are two groups of people who seem to be always in on these movements, new platforms, and 'hot social issues' who I always seem to notice.

One is the 'me too' crowd using the cause for their own promotion. I don't blame them, if the 'X whatever challenge' is popular on Youtube and you want to take part to raise some attention for your books or products, more power to you. You are taking part and then letting people know you are alive and out here doing something cool, and I really have no problem with that. You have to do what you have to do to get noticed.

There is another crowd that I wonder about, and this is the 'this is really about us' crowd. They are typically the ones who try and come in and hijack the movement, bring in a bus full of marchers or a crowd full of topic posters, and take over the message and make it all about them and not what the original idea was supposed to be about.

It is like a protest about saving the habitat for polar bears, and then several buses of 'anti-wind power' protesters show up and make the event about them and not the polar bears. I know, in today's world 'media coverage' for your cause is a precious commodity and raw natural resource, and if you know cameras are going to be there you are going to show up anyways and make this all about you.

We live in an outrage-based economy these days, after all.

Units of 'outrage' are produced by viral videos, marches, 'the Internet is angry about' click-bait, or any other source...

...and it is picked up by the media and spread...

...where more outrage units are created and distributed over social media channels.

So the 'this is really about us' movements and groups have an incentive to jump into this economy. Someway, somehow I feel 'units of outrage' can be monetized somehow, like click-bait micro-transaction ad pennies for each fake news story (on either side) clicked on, rinse and repeat.

And it is not just social movements that are affected by this 'this is really about us' thing, you see social media platforms creating cross-platform links trying to steal users attention and clicks away from each other. Youtube posts on Facebook versus Facebook Video, for one. Each service knows the other has a natural resource of users, clicks, and eyeballs, and they do their best to jump in on each other's bandwagon and make 'online video' all about one site or the other.

If a new e-reader comes out, other companies try to jump on and get their books on it, without going through the normal store method. If a new music player comes out, other music companies try to make it a part of their ecosystem, Amazon Music on an iPhone, for example.

Some of this is competition, and that is fine. Some of this is one company or another trying to steal users from the 'next big thing' and take over the platform for themselves. Everyone has a reason to jump on the public forum and shout the loudest, I know.

But in other cases, especially social movements, the original idea becomes polluted by too much 'this is really about us' and I feel the important message is lost.

There are those who jump on the bandwagon, and then I feel there are those who try to take the bandwagon over. And then there are those who make money from all of this and keep the outrage flowing along - but never providing a solution.

After all, if the problem were solved there wouldn't be any money in click-bait articles, would there?

But for me, the things I like to share and be involved in have a higher standard and ideal. Free speech. Human rights. Equality. The pursuit of happiness. Causes based upon the notion of the concept of 'universal human freedom' - so there you have it.

Now watch, once I put a term out there like 'universal human freedom' you could see someone with their own agenda come along, borrow the phrase for their own cause, and then push the admittedly pop-culture term while advancing their own agenda.

If we live in an outrage-based economy, after all, finding these vague, get-behind-able pop-culture terms and phrases is just a part of the marketing plan for what they really want to sell you.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Screen Fatigue and E-Book Sales

“For consumers travelling or on holiday having an additional ereader device to look after is awkward...”
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/apr/27/screen-fatigue-sees-uk-ebook-sales-plunge-17-as-readers-return-to-print

Have we reached a point of device fatigue? I have seen a lot of reviews of the following device saying people are using it to replace their laptops, tablets, and e-readers with an all-in-one, like the Samsung Chromebook Plus:
This is also my current dream machine and I have this hope it replaces a Kindle Fire, e-reader, Windows machine, and Mac laptop. I would love to get down to two devices, phone plus laptop/tablet thingy. People say they are ditching every device and just sticking to a phone and a couple paperbacks - and I do not blame them. I tried the Windows Surface 3 thing, and while I do not doubt some do well with this, it has proven to be one of my nightmare devices:
Desktop dialog boxes sit behind the tablet mode interface, waiting for a reply and staying hidden forever. The keyboard and trackpad sometimes are not recognized. The machine asks me if I want to switch modes even though I have not disconnected the keyboard. Wireless problems requiring reinstalls of drivers and resets of the router. The keyboard itself feeling like typing on a sheet of cardboard. The inability to balance this on your lap or one leg. The SD card never staying mounted and having to always reinsert it to have the device pick it up. The slow SSD takes forever to run an update, and the list goes on and on. It feels like less of a tablet and more of a budget laptop with an optional keyboard accessory.

And they says 99-cent paperbacks are making a comeback, and I don't blame them. I still reach for physical books on a regular basis. I can take them anywhere and I don't have to worry about power, and they aren't really painful if they are lost or stolen. I can lend them to others. There is that tactful turning the page feeling that I grew up with, and I love the sensations - the smell of the ink, the feel of the paper, the sensation of weight, the bend of the spine, and the sound of turning a page.

I like e-readers and I like e-books. I like tablets. There is a huge convenience factor with e-books. A world of reading opens up to me, and I can sample so many new and varied writers it blows my mind. I can keep a library on my phone and I always have a library in my pocket.

But, I have device fatigue. My phone chirps at me for attention. My e-reader and tablet need charging and they are dependent on wall sockets like a junkie to a fix. Windows is a constant attention hog and I have to pretend I am a network security engineer to keep the thing safe while I am online, and stay abreast of security updates, hacks, and all sorts of intrusion news. My Mac is a little better, but it is an expensive beast that I worry about whenever it goes on the road with me.

And then I found this device a while back, a Samsung Chromebook 2:
Love at first sight. A replacement for my old EeePC in a 11" format, light, secure, cheap, and fast. Power that lasts nearly all day. The screen sucks but everything else is wonderful. A compact but nice keyboard and a trackpad that rivals my Mac. Built-in guest user access that I have no worries about. Strong and secure multi-user support. Cloud backup. Offline support and syncing when I get back online. No "admin" accounts. No drivers. No hassle.

Yes, there is that whole "Google sees what you do thing" and that bothers me a little. But what I do on this I do not worry, so I don't have an issue with that fact.

This goes everywhere I do. I did 20,000 words of Bolwarama out of 50K total on this while on vacation. No qualms about hotel WiFi, given my standard security practices with that type of access, and it does what I need it to do.

Browse the web and write books.

I still love this little laptop. There are some devices that when the discussion of "device fatigue" comes up I can put them in that category. I still love them and appreciate having them around, but, you know? You know that feeling that it is like "love but if...?" And then there are some devices when the subject of "device fatigue" comes up I will defend to the death. No freaking way I could live without that device. I would rather go without my iPhone than this laptop. Even though the screen sucks. Even though I need to lug around an extra charger. Even though it does not play Windows games. Even though it is an extra laptop, needs to be looked after, and secured when I leave the hotel room.

By all means I shouldn't be this much of a zealot, but I am just because the machine has never failed me or caused me heartache. It performs. I have less expectations for this than I do Windows or Mac, but what it does it does incredibly well. It is low distraction by design.

But my other devices? I could live without them if all I had was this. In fact, if I didn't have all these devices lying around I think I would get more out of one of them than I would a little out of five of them, each one begging for attention, each one requiring a slightly different skill set to use. I can see the point of the article above, people are tired of loading up on devices and switching between them. E-book sales are down because there is nothing really new in the world of e-readers, and like they suspect, that old-fashioned books have an inherent convenience factor and appeal to them.

And I feel that device fatigue. Most of my devices have not improved my life or made it any easier.

But one has.

In this world of insecure computing and constant worry, one device has won my loyalty and respect.

And now a new device, similar to the current champion, calls with its siren's song to me.

I can replace the rest of them.

This and a couple paperback books shoved in a travel bag? My phone in my purse?

I think I could live that life rather well.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Redefinition

Beware of redefinition.

"Freedom of speech means I should be free from being upset."

Wait. Hold up. Either you do not get the concept or you are twisting the meaning to further your aims. Neither of which are good.

I don't know where this, "freedom from being upset" right came from. When you think of it, it is good to get upset every once and a while. Suppose you learn your drinking water is toxic because your local government made this sweet deal with a lead refinery or something silly like that.

Now that "corporations are people too," the corporation is going to say, "we have a right from you upsetting us," and shut your concerns down. You are upsetting them, and upsetting all of the employees who work at the refinery, after all. The government may say "you are upsetting us by getting in the way of the tax money this refinery makes" and declare you don't have the right to say anything.

If you told your neighbors their water was toxic too, you would be upsetting them after all.

And you don't have the right to "upset anyone" anymore.

Even if it is for their own good.

After all, weren't you the one arguing for the right for yourself to never be "upset" by speech you did not agree with? Or was that only when you didn't agree with what someone else said and you just wanted to silence them? You never really thought this whole "freedom from being upset" thing would come back to bite you in the behind, did you?

History has proven these sorts of things never end well. It is ultimately a short-sighted cause to make you feel good in the moment, and then everyone forgets about this "new rule" and someone later comes along and exploits the hell out of things.

Being upset is the foundation for change. It is also the foundation of satire and comedy, so if you don't want anyone to be upset you are making the world a less joyous place to be in. Somebody or some thing has to be the butt of the joke, after all, fairly or unfairly. And anyone can redefine racism or sexism to include anything, so don't go there. If someone says something stupid, guess what? They are an intolerant, stupid person and leave it at that. Before this era we kinda knew there were crackpots and idiots in the world, and we did a pretty good job at ignoring them.

By trying to  silence them you are drawing people to them, and I feel many of these people support them just out of spite.

Ultimately I feel this is all about the feelings of losing control. We can't control the flow of free ideas, or even the expression of them, so we have to start shutting down everything we don't agree with, Faux outrage. Flash mobs. Angry tirades. Cause de jours. We seek to control the uncontrollable flow of free information by mob rule.

When the flow of free information is a good thing. It is a democratizing force. The truth holds an absolute power all its own. Free information frees us from oppression and ignorance, and yes, this even applies to the information we may not necessarily agree with.

Sometimes the truth is hard to accept. Here is one for you:

People can and will pass away.

Did that upset you? It does me. It is a normal thing, and yes, people are free to say it. I accept that. But you know, maybe, I don't have that right. Maybe I did a horrible thing there by upsetting you.

We should ban any mention of anyone dying in the media.

I can see it now, today, a famous person "left" the planet and as a result all performances were cancelled. We do not expect him or her to comment further. It is not know if or when this celebrity shall return. Not much more is known, please stay tuned. The artist's label and management is attacking online trolls spreading viscous rumors of what this chronic "removed from reality" condition means, because, well, you know, they don't want to be upset by the facts. Or lose profits.

We don't want to be upset at the certainty of our own mortality, after all. It's for the better. Less people are upset, and that is a good thing.

And then soon after, there would be mobs on both sides of this issue beating each other up over who has the right to silence who. I just feel there is this inverse rule out that that states:

"The more you try to please people, the less happy they are."

Monday, April 24, 2017

Ereaderotica Update

I have this feeling the e-read site is unrecoverable except for the SQL backup I have of all the posts. I have been working all weekend on this, first trying small fixes, and then working my way up to the most drastic of changes. I even tried a complete wipe and reinstall. Nothing has worked.

I can pull the content from the posts, so this means I can still put out compilations of the Workshops as I get that data out. I started that book series as a way to preserve the workshops for future generations, but I never knew it would take on this level of importance now. Now, things are different.

It is sad, but I can't support a platform that I can't support or maintain, or one that breaks and I don't have the ability to repair. I am working on some other way of bringing the site back up, in some fashion, so we shall see.

I remember the days when a website meant one HTML file somewhere. This is tens of thousands of times more complex, to support a blog in an era where blogs are a dying method of communication. There are also commodity blog systems that get the job done without all the support and chance for unrecoverable breakage.

Things have changed. Websites need secure certificates to show the HTTPS "trusted" status, and that costs money. Blacklisting of mature content is rampant, and it kills your search rankings and ability to share what you create. Even if you write a review of something you love, sharing it and having that propagate on a social media network feels next to impossible because the root site is filtered as 'adult content' - even to those interested.

The open and free Internet started as this extra, strange thing you got on from services like AOL or Compuserve, and I feel we have sadly returned to those days. Today, you aren't anything if you can't be shared on Google or Facebook. I fear we have went back to the old days of the "portal service" controlling what people see, how ad dollars are doled out, and if you are visible to the world at large.

You can create and review all you want, but if you can't be found you are that tree in the forest no one sees or hears falling.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

World Book Day

http://www.worldbookday.com/about/

Celebrate. Read a book. Make reading a part of your life.

You may already be doing this, so you probably already know what joy this brings. If you don't read regularly, take some time out of your day and start. It is never too late to begin.

A couple books in, you will begin to understand the joys of your imagination. You will understand the difference between the instant gratification of video and television, and the slow, mind-expanding wonder of turning printed words into vivid thoughts.

Open a book and open up new worlds inside your mind.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Google and Facebook are 85% of Everything

http://theweek.com/articles/693488/google-monopoly--crushing-internet

Yes, I know where I am, this is Blogger and therefore Google. The headline of this article is a bit bombastic and attention grabbing, but there is a truth to it. Most all of the Internet ad-dollars these days go through Google and Facebook.

That is, the ad-dollars that aren't blocked because of malware being delivered in drive-by attacks from banner ads. I block them all nowadays because I can't count the amount of times my anti-virus has screamed at me because I white-listed a site and turned them on because I wanted to "support" a site with my eyeballs and see a couple ads.

But when I started my e-read site, the blog ad model was viable. Ad-blocking was not as prevalent. There was still a viable "off Facebook and Google" model for delivering content. And now this:

http://digiday.com/media/publishers-seeing-another-big-decline-reach-facebook/

Now it seems even the mainstream news sites that link to Facebook are seeing significant drops from in traffic. Algorithm changes. Fake news filters hitting mainstream and reputable journalistic sources. Nothing has changed but the code, supposedly. Even the Chicago Tribune has reported a huge drop in views - from Facebook.

Somehow I fear we have reached that day where there is no more free Internet. Free, as in freely shared and freely accessible and freely found. Now yes, you can make a blog and do what you want out here, but the big reason why has went the way of the ad dollars - directly to Facebook and Google, along with all the other eyeballs and clicks. It is like millions of sites have suddenly been demonetized, and out here it really isn't worth putting your time into a site and doing all that hard work in being an independent voice.

For a niche site like mine, that is a killer. Granted, I never had many ads at all on e-read, but there was a thought of building the site and eventually taking ads. Now? That model is very difficult to justify. The eyes and clicks just are not out here in the wild anymore. Even the sources of eyes we rely on these days, Facebook and Google, seem to be severely cutting back on outside sources.

I think that is the most scary part. In this rush to filter "fake news" we are killing independent sources of information. We are also killing traditional journalistic sources as well.

The computers have decided no one wants to see you today.

Good luck.

If we can't even rely on Facebook or Google to deliver viewers, we are stuck with that last little, shrinking, 15% of the pie. And if your site is flagged as adult content, good luck being included in Google searches or even shared on Facebook.

This blog? Not adult content. Not flagged because I don't share anything here except my mostly work-safe thoughts. It is also on Google. It also does a lot better than an indie site because it is visible to that 85% of the world (at least the Google part). If I remain as a voice on the Internet it shall be here, because this is where I can be seen and heard.

And also, if I want to be seen and heard, I shall probably spend my time writing books. Those have a lot longer staying power and better reach than a blog, considering they can stick around for hundreds of years in a variety of digital and print formats.

What am I to think? Indie sites have failed. Blogs outside of Facebook or Google have failed. There is no money in them anymore, and the ad-supported model has collapsed. Linking from social media sites is collapsing, so that traffic is going away. Even indie blogs report the ad companies they are dealing with scare off readers because the ads themselves are so intrusiv and annoying.

With a shrinking pie, the last few non-85% ad companies have to milk every click even harder, which I feel drives more people away. Or more people to block ads entirely.

We have reached a point where people DVR the Internet and fast-forward through the commercials.

Moreso, because of the strict filtering and dungeon-ing of adult content, what we can say has been severely limited and cut back. Our reach to those looking for discussion of mature concepts has been severely restricted.

If you want more eyes, stay the hell out of the adult marketplace.

I hate saying those words but I feel the awful truth to them. I can't promote a tweet for a erotic fiction book on social media because my account has been marked as 'adult products and services' - even to those who may show an interest. Even though more porn is shared on these services than I can count.

We want you here, but we don't want anyone to see you.

Good luck.

This really isn't Google or Facebook's fault though. It is ours because we choose to make these places our digital homes. Where we search. Where we share. We created this problem. The policies of these places make it worse and also limit speech, so that is another issue. But it is tied into the bigger problem.

Our choices limit what we see.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Back when Free Thought was Cool

We work our way through life, step by step, pain by pain, worry by worry to a certain place. A destination. The somewhere we want to be. I like to think of this as working my way towards a truth.

Who I am. What I want to be. Where I want to be.

And all along the way things fight us. We have setbacks and tragedies. We endure loss. We deal with 'new normals' which unsettle us and rub the emotional sunburn on our skin raw.

One thing I have learned in life is the things in which you are told will change your life rarely do, and the things which do change your life are the things which are never told to you.

I believe there exists an entire industry out there which has the intention to piss you off and control the resulting rage. Yes, I am talking about the news here, but there are so many other examples of this tactic where the model follows something like this:
  1. Produce a source of outrage, like a video or image.
  2. Carefully seed the framing of the event with weasel words and triggers.
  3. Link the event with something totally unrelated.
  4. Push the narrative the unrelated cause is the answer for #1.
Rinse and repeat. This is life. This is what we are told on the Internet. This is our social media news feed. This is probably 90% of the posts complaining about something or trying to link event X to cause Y.

It comes from marketing. If your life is dull, drink a soda. This car will make your humdrum commute like a movie star's. Problem X, meet answer Y. You can use this to sell books too, so there is that, and I don't really have a problem with that since marketing is as old as the hills.

But marketing some sort of social engineering bugs me, because it runs afoul of free speech.

Back in the day, liberals and progressives were these really cool people to hang out with. The sexual revolution was something to be happy about. We could drink, smoke, grope, make nasty jokes, and support people's rights to do and say whatever they wanted (within reason, of course). But they were cool. They read Playboy and Penthouse. They did this whole subversive book and writer thing. We celebrated the counterculture. We let people speak their minds.

If something upset somebody, we celebrated that.

Free thought, you know?

Today it feels like the left-leaning point of view is the home of the new Puritan group-think. Don't say this. Don't trigger that. That is sexist. Don't let that person speak their mind. Shut her down. Silence him. Free speech is only the speech which does not upset me. Some points of view are more valid than others.

Otherwise, shut it down. Get your Internet flash mob together, use steps one through four of the marketing plan, and attack ruthlessly. Ban this person, demonetize that video. The terms of service for the site only protect the speech we want to see.

What happened to us?

What happened to being cool?

I am pretty much old-school when it comes to free thought. Many of my books feature gender-crossed heroines. I support people's right to write most anything they want, non-con, shifters, furries, cuckolding, monsters, close-relations, escorts, whatever - I reviewed them all. Early on I had some qualms after the multiple porn-pocolypses hit various booksellers, but I got over those as I found my voice and supported all sorts of writers with critical reviews.

Being cool about something is important to me. The fact I can be cool about a genre I may not personally appreciate as much as others - but I can find value and meaning within - is important to me. I am not triggered when I see a non-con book and scream the "R" word and try to shut the author down as sexist and a source of misogyny.

It's not that way.

This is fiction. This for some is an emotional release. It can apply to both sides. There is a reason for everything. I am stronger than that. I don't have an agenda to prove or a cause to push which requires me to tear other people down. People have a right to write.

Whatever they please.

I am cool with that.

I value being "cool" and open-minded.

We used to see the stuck-up people who got upset at every little cuss word in music or any reference to sex in a movie as a closed-minded puritan tightwad and "unfun" person. You knew the types, the people who wanted to ban certain forms of music and shame people from seeing certain movies because they had sex in them?

How far we have fallen?

I can't remember the last time I went to a movie theater and saw a sex scene, heard an off-color remark, or saw anything which could upset a carefully-chosen cross section of marketing test subjects.

I swear this is what happens when people's lives generally suck. This is what happens when a society is breaking down. This is what happens when people do not have opportunities, when life turns into stuffing as many rats into the maze as it can handle, and we are all fighting each other for the few scraps which our masters let us have. Being a good citizen or member of social media is defined by the level of compliance with the rules. Power is gained by stepping on others, and we get into these fake "triggering" wars over things people in the old days would let slide as "someone's opinion."

We turn on each other over every little thing.

Nobody is "cool" with anything anymore.

Here is my litmus test, and this applies to any generation - anywhere and at any time:
If you want to silence people, ban things, take away opportunity, or shut down points of view - you are a square and a part of the authority.

If you value open-mindedness and freedom and support people's right to say and do whatever they want (within reason) - you are cool and a part of the counterculture.
Why is this important? I sit here and wonder why I have to explain this, but here it goes.

If you foster a culture of repression and censorship against points of view you don't like...someday when who is in charge changes, this will all be used against you. Why? Because the other side will say "just desserts" and use those same tools or repression against your views. You know it will because you have been doing it to them, like forever. Hate breeds hate. Disrespect breeds disrespect.

It is better to be universally for freedom of thought and expression than it is to be right and force your point of view down everyone's throats.

Stay on the side of the "cool" people and be cool yourself with dissenting points of view.

Because it ultimately protects you.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

In the Moment of Passed Places

Sometimes life throws at us its worst, and we respond with our best.

I am rebuilding, refocusing, and working hard. I am entering that next phase. I am keeping trying to salvage the best of the past, while moving towards the future.

There are times all that we can do is the best we can do, and we must accept that.

But doing is the key here. Not doing is where you do not want to be. Not doing means letting another day go by without moving forward, trying something new, or learning.

There is this thought which haunts me.

Sex is something you write when you cannot write anything better.

It is a terrible thought, and one I fought against my entire writing career. It is a predisposed statement, loaded, and entirely wrong. It denies the human condition. It denies who we are. It heaps shame on the subject, and pushes it into the back room.

Yes this is a thought which keeps coming back to me in my moments of weakness.

If I did not have this thought, I would have never fought against it, and I would not be who I am today. Sometimes, without our darkest thoughts, we are not ourselves. Without a weakness to fight against, there is no fight. There is no wrong to battle, there is no dragon to slay. So I keep having this thought, and it speaks to me from the darkness with its siren's song.

"Quit."

"Go mainstream."

"Writing sex demeans you."

"You are better than this."

I am sure you hear voices similar. Doubts. That inner voice telling you, "you can't." Trying and failing. Being unsure of yourself. Thinking the grass is greener. Being someone who you are not. Quitting. Not trying. Giving up through ignorance and inaction.

But fighting those voices makes us who we are. With every act of defiance we grow stronger. With every step forward we deny the step backward. We also deny the force of inaction, which I feel is the most dangerous place to be.

You are who you are.

Do not try to be someone else.

And there are times when who you are...is not who you really are. Because you have been living a lie all your life. Or parts of your life embody that lie so much you cannot see it for what it really is.

Life is an expressway. You must move with it or you are placing yourself in a place you don't want to be. Even standing still puts you at risk. You must be in motion, fluid, and always going forward. There is no alternative.

There is no standing still. Not in this life.

There cannot be.

Those voices will always be behind you. They will call to you, to turn around, to go back the way you came, and to tell you it is better where you have been than where you could be.

But that is all those voices are.

Memories of the things of which you have seen.

Places passed on the road of life.

You enjoy them in the moment in which you had them, but living in them gets you nowhere.

Nostalgia is an opiate. A lie. Comfortable ropes which tie and bind. Denying our future and denying our potential. Nostalgia has a selective memory. Nostalgia is influenced by the darker voices within.

There can be nothing better than what came before. The way things were will always be the way they are. This idea was the best. We might as well give up trying to do anything new and settle back in the stale and familiar.

There is no better us, nothing better shall come, and therefore there is no better you.

Again, another voice which tells me, "you can't."

And I shake my head, keep driving, and know there is another monster out there in the darkness which I must fight. More worthless words from the voices within.

But valuable in that fighting them makes me who I am.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Seeing the War through Soda Pop Eyes

One of the reasons war scares me is because of how small and insignificant it makes me feel. It sounds like a petty feeling and a horrible thing to say, because with war there are so many more things wrong with the whole concept: the failure of diplomacy, the devolving of how people in the world treat each other, the greater ideal of peace, the death caused, destruction, the generational hatred seeded, and the admission that we aren't any better than those who came before.

I feel we are not any better than our parents, or theirs.

We still live in that same world where people kill each other for their differences.

And those with the biggest bombs win. Then again, I can see the logic in that, because once you show you are afraid to use the biggest bombs, trouble breeds and spreads.

I feel it always has. And I fear it always will.

Oh, I like to think we are different, but really, I feel we are not. With all of our self-important Facebook and social media "power" we are told we have every day by those wishing to hand over our personal information and time, we can't really seem to change the course of world events. And I don't believe for a moment if "the other side" would have won an election here or there that we would really be anywhere different right now - the seeds of where were are at this moment were planted a long time ago. It is like a cancer diagnosis, you still have it even if you choose to ignore it for a while.

I am not naive, even though the ambrosia of naivete is sold to us every day as an answer for everything. I am tired of your good thoughts and best wishes, world. Just because we can 'come together' and sing a song, share a smile, and say nice things to each other as "one people" doesn't mean everything is all right.

I don't see it. Not today.

I feel it is marketing, plain and simple, this idea of a better world. About as real as the world created in a commercial selling us soft drinks. You know those places, where everyone has a smile on their face, the neighborhood is clean, people go about their business with a pep in their step, and where everyone gets along. There is probably a song playing in the background by some sell-out pop-star, and things like drugs, violence, crime, and poverty don't exist. A soda solves every problem.

Those happy and beautiful people in the soda commercial don't have to step over homeless people on the way to their concert for social justice and equality.

I am sorry about that last comment, but then again, I am not. I am not because that is the world we live in and choose to ignore. Even I am guilty and I feel the shame. I have been reading essays on the homeless lately, books written by people who have slept in storm drains as the unwanted and forgotten about and come back from the edge of Hell, and I am in a sour mood.

And there are thousands and thousands of homeless out there today, on those streets we want to see through soda pop eyes. Many of them will just die out there, and I feel nobody cares. Nobody has the time to. And yes, I am guilty here as well. I feel the words 'raising awareness' should be right next to the thesaurus with the term 'lip service.'

And this talk of war gets me in a darker mood.

At times I feel we are angry because we know we are being sold a lie, this concept of a better world pushed through commercials from everything from online services, cell phones, food, clothes, and everything else in our world. It is like this window into a alternate dimension "fake world" where everyone is happy, connected, diverse, honest, beautiful, and gets along like old friends. You know, that world in the soda commercial where the ambiguous-issue "protest" march never ends in a riot with bones broken, lives lost, and the long-smouldering fires of hatred started. A world where terror attacks never happen. A world where missiles aren't pointed at each other and the clock is stuck at four minutes from midnight.

A rose-colored world sold to us every day, and we can only get there is we buy the right things.

Imagine a war fought in this other world. Smoke would float over an ambiguous battlefield. The diverse and similar-looking soldiers from each side would stop firing, walk up to each other, and share a cold bottle of refreshment and understanding. Some pop music from a sellout artist would play, beautiful people would run onscreen and cheer, and the world would be a great and positive place again.

End the war! Buy a soda!

We are constantly sold that world but all we end up with are empty calories, weight related health issues, and more heartbreak. Where we live in this quasi-religious world of brand idolatry, where our "moment of awakening" was that "I want to buy the world..." ad in the 1970's, probably regarded as the best commercial of all time, but I see this as the starting point for where we are at now. The false idea a brand purchase can change the world, and then giving up changing it ourselves.

I know "it is up to us" but co-opting the message feels, to me, like a falsehood. I bought your soda, why aren't things better? Where is that world in the commercial? You know, the one we see, no matter what the product, where "if we buy" things will get better.

And we wonder why people are angry all the time.

I would be too if someone sold me the idea of a better world and they never delivered on it. I know "it is up to us" but really, advertisers, I feel if you co-opt the "better world" message you are now a little responsible for helping bring about this state of commercial perfection and world peace. Not a Xanadu, but your Nirvana. And yes, I am no saint nor profess I am better than anyone else; but I don't know how many lifestyle products I bought, how many sodas I drank, and how socially conscious my brand choices were...we are still here.

On the other side of the screen from those happy, positive, soda pop people.

In a dark house full of the things which we bought to take us there.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Seed of an Idea

I have a book and a series to finish, but other ideas are there, waiting, under the surface.

Like a seedling waiting to sprout forth in a burst of new life, the idea sits and germinates.

It is coming. The potential is great. The possibilities are endless. It is that feeling you get when you think of something great, you become excited, and then you cannot wait to express what you feel. You cannot wait until finger comes to keyboard and life begins again. You cannot wait until that moment strikes and you find obsession again.

And you know it is there, waiting.

Something great comes.

You don't want to over-hype, nor do you want to over-plan this. It is like too much water or too much attention. What you must get right is timing, work too early and the conditions for success will not be right, and work too late and the idea goes stale and the growing season passes.

It is all about timing now.

Let this sprout wait a while, and then I shall begin.

It shall come.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Demonitized Demonization

It is hard to watch some video sharing sites nowadays.

I don't know how to put it. Political videos are demonetized. Anything with a curse word is demonetized. Anything remotely resembling anything adult humor is demonetized. A lot of creators are reporting their videos are being in a state where they are still left up, but because of site policy, they won't get paid for a view.

Could you imagine that in the world of books?

Because we don't agree with your political opinion or book's content, we decide you won't get paid.

Writers know how to bitch, I can tell you that, and that is a great thing. Never pick a fight with someone trained to bang out tens of thousands of words per day because you are never going to hear the end of it.

Mind you, this is an ad-supported model and it is different than the world of books, it does show you how fragile the ad-supported world is. When you say "ad supported content" you really mean "advertiser controlled content" - I don't know of any other way to put this into words. You fall into this lowest common denominator world where nothing can be remotely upsetting to anybody, because someone is going to make a clickbait 'get rich quick' article (or even video) unfairly linking company X to video Y.

At least with Kindle Unlimited, it is clear you pay for the service and get access to all the books participating in the program. There are no ads or advertiser supported content here. You can have political books, mature works, and anything under the sun in the program because dammit, I am paying for this and if they pull entire categories of books out of the program for some reason I can complain and then I can quit the service. But they haven't, and I have found the Kindle Unlimited service is remarkably liberal, open, and diverse. This is why I have been in it since they started.

But it is a paid service. Big difference.

But watching video-sharing creators suffer is hard for me. People honestly out there trying to 'make it' in a very fickle and competitive world of video sharing, and you just see them lose ground just for being themselves. For what they say. For their beliefs. This isn't even just a 'mature content' thing, it feels like a policy of 'family friendly' or else leave. Quit what you love doing. Don't be yourself. Watch what you say. Fall in line. Don't upset the advertisers.

I see an ad on a video-sharing site and in the back of my mind I just get the feeling the company is silently supporting censorship. The fact the ad is here at all is limiting free speech. Having ads means I don't get to see what I want to see. That creators are punished for being who they are.

It feels like a partial collapse of the ad-supported model of content sharing, or at least the chickens coming home to roost after that 'gold rush' period where the rules were lax. You see this today on blogs with advertiser programs, and how hard it is to get mainstream ads on content that is marked as 'mature content.' Nobody wants to touch the stuff, even though, yes, mature content is ranked up there in the most popular search terms year after year.

But what if there was a better world to live in?

Would I pay $9.99 a month to watch videos where there were no rules, no ads, and creators got paid a share per view? A sort of an all-you-can-watch Video Unlimited service?

Yes.

Yes I would.

Would I care that there may be mature content on this service?

No.

In fact, this is part of the reason why I would pay.

Because I am paying for this service. If you want to put account settings to be able to turn off adult content, fine, do so - but I am paying for this service and I do not need a team of censors telling me what I can and cannot see (beyond the normal IP infringement and shady content stuff, which I agree should not be allowed to make money off other people's work or otherwise illicit content). But part of the reason why I would want to be there is because there aren't any silly rules telling people what they can and can not do.

I would pay because I support those people who are out there unafraid, being themselves, and looking to make a buck in this world which feels like it punishes people for speaking their minds.

And there is that bonus of never seeing an ad again.

But I would pay for that right.

But more importantly, I support the creators out there trying to make this silly and crazy business their lives.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Website Fixes, Time, and Blog Status

The remaining books in E-Read's queue will get reviewed - even if I have to put the reviews up on the store pages, they will get reviewed.

In the meantime, I am still working on getting the site back up. At this point I have no idea what happened, something went awry, and when I bring the site up it is a blank page. Most likely a theme isn't playing well with one of the updates or something like that. Fixing the site will be a longer term thing I feel, but this also highlights being able to support something like this when it goes up and when things naturally go wrong.

It is not unlike Windows or the Mac and knowing that - when you have a computer, things go wrong, and you need to develop skills in fixing things. Personally, with all the data collection going on as a part of Windows these days, my opinion of the platform is not so good. They think they have a right to pry in on my life, when they do not, and my choice is to walk away. I know this is the same thing that goes on with Chromebooks, so I am a little less enthused about them - but I do appreciate the security there so I still have one for the things I wish to share.

If I want privacy it's my Mac or one of my old computers and Ubuntu. The respect I give to your platform is the respect you give my privacy.

But work continues, and I am facing the real possibility that E-Read may not be recoverable. I have the data, but it is a challenge figuring out what went wrong and how to get things back the way they were. Wordpess, for me, is a challenge. I get this feeling if I can't figure this out I am in over my head and can't support the platform. If I can't do that, then I am done with Wordpress.

I am also facing the fact that the market has changed since I started four years ago. There is a lot to think about. I get this feeling indie review sites are really not as important, and social media channels have taken over the book-selling buzz. When I stated back then, the joke was blogs were a relic and it was all going to video. Today, the video bandwagon is showing signs of faltering (with the breakdown of ad-supported revenue) and we are likely on to something else. We are in this strange payment-processor, bank, and advertisement war for control of content - and entertainment for mature minds is getting crapped on by every side.

The byproduct of keeping the minds of adults in adolescence forever, I know. Everything is family-friendly. Comic books are 'for adults' but never show anything 'for adults.' Every conflict is solved with extreme violence and a hefty dose of computer-generated imagery. Nobody talks anymore. Nobody loves anymore. There is no subtle. There is no shame. There is no sense of right and wrong. There is no respect.

No wonder the world is the way it is. War is just a video-game we play, right? When is the next one coming out?

Right now, for my life, just updating this personal blog is enough.

Work continues.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Post Everything World

Over on Youtube creators are enraged about something called the ad-pocalypse. Look it up for yourself, but basically it hurts people just starting out and those producing edgy content. It feels like another round of "we control the Internet" insanity by a big company, and we have been down this road before as writers with the three or four porn-pocolpyses writers have been through (and some of the yearly ones like when book stores clean up their shelves before the holidays).

You saw this before with banks giving adult performers hassle when opening up accounts - just because of the work they do. With advertisers on mainstream nude magazines and all the politics about where they were carried and what stores they could be in. With online payment processors shying away from mature content, and refusing to be a part of the payment methods of some sites. And now with advertisers complaining about what videos their products are seen on.

And here I just thought a view was a view.

I grew up in the world of late-night ads on cable TV hawking  all sorts of junk, and they didn't care if their videos were on some schlock 1950's B-grade monster movie, the late-late show, or some music-video show where the videos were basically ads for songs, and then they put ads around the videos to sell you more stuff.

Eyes were eyes back then. I guess our eyes are somehow different today.

Big companies want to control the content, because either the big companies are failing to product what the average person wants or there just is that much money to be made speaking your mind. I really get this feeling people are moving to Youtube and creator-driven content because they are so absolutely sick and tired of the garbage Hollywood and other big media companies produce. Look at TV news, if you can stand it, and then look at all the independent news sites people are really getting their information from today.

It is the old media sites that complain the loudest about "fake news" - from both sides right and left - because this isn't a legitimate argument, it is because people are walking away. People are getting their information directly from independent sources and using their brains to determine if the facts presented are right or wrong.

Same thing with entertainment. People would rather sit down and randomly watch Youtube videos where they can find things more relevant to their world than sit in front of the late show every night watching what entertainment companies think would appeal to the largest demographic.'

Jimmy Fallon can't drop an f-bomb. But Pewdiepie can.

And people flock towards the things which are not fake.

And those in the old guard and traditional media industries do what? Declare the new stuff is upsetting, controversial, and fake. Tear down the new stuff by using advertiser money, store policy, and hiding things from search. They implement policies to push "approved, family friendly" content while pushing the edgy, intelligent stuff to the back of the store.

It is a dam you cannot stop from breaking, honestly. It just feels like the more they try to keep people away from the things they want, the less effective it is at stopping the inevitable.

This is really all about money.

It is about money.

It is about the big studio who's movie flops and they blame bad Internet reviews. It is about the company that puts out a tone-deaf ad, gets raked over the coals for doing something stupid, and then blames the videos their ad plays on instead of admitting they "lost touch" there and are sorry. It is about the big book that comes out and doesn't meet expectations because indie authors are taking all the attention away. The game with millions of dollars in budget that gets bad reviews in comment videos. The TV show with the famous actors that pulls in less views than someone's Minecraft videos.

This is about the small people turning the old world on its head. About the billions of small people reaching out and finding things they enjoy with billions of other small people.

I am proudly a small person.

So the old guard uses money, payment processors, store policy, payment rates, and other games - using old fashioned currency - to control things.

What do you think is going to happen?

People are going to walk away from the old guard sites and platforms.

And people are going to walk away from the old-guard currency and payment processors used to control them.

If I could sell books directly using Bitcoin - and be my own payment processor - I would in a heartbeat. Here are my books, give me a tip, and I will keep on writing and doing what I do. Of course, I would still report it all as income, I am not stupid, but this is my business and I am not going to have some credit card company, store, or payment processor tell me what content should or should not be in my book - or video. Or anything I create.

I found an audience, and do not think you can use your money or policies to control either me or my followers. Seriously.

I become that guitar-player on the corner playing for tips. People throw their coins and dollar bills into my open guitar case, without having some payment company tell me "you can't play there" or "we don't like your music" and that next week the policy has changes and they aren't going to pay you.

Even though you play and people find what you do to be valuable to their lives and existence.

To be a part of their world, and to have them say "thank you" with a tip or two.

So I can keep on doing this, you know, the theory if enough people tip me I can buy that box of mac-and-cheese and eat another day? That I won't need a traditional job, and I can devote 100% of my life to what you love me doing - so you can have more? That sort of thing, where the big company is gone from the equation and it is just me and you, and you showing your appreciation every now and then with a coin or two.

An honest world is all I seek.

One where we reward each other based on our merits, directly, and there is little between us.

The benefit of a platform, be it a tablet, phone, e-reader, Youtube, Facebook, or any other content-delivery system - is size and exposure. When the policies of the platform begin to fight the audience's will and desire for content, the platform usually does not win.

And I feel the purpose of a platform is to not control the content, but to deliver it, invisibly and accurately, to those seeking that content. To enable people to find the things they wish to watch, instead of telling us what we should watch.

Welcome to the post-everything world.

Survive by supporting open standards and platforms, because you want to be able to take everything with you - your books, your movies, your music, and all your digital goods. A digital good has a lot more value if it is transferable to another device, and there have been music and media stores which have folded up and said "sorry, you don't own that anymore."

And find ways of rewarding creators directly, because the ad-supported world of dinosaurs wants to drag you down in the tar pits with it. Take the money that would go into cable TV bills and other old-guard services, cut those out of your life, and use that money to contribute directly to the people that bring value to your life.

It is a smarter play, and it supports the little people like you and me.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Still Working on Things

The website is still down.

It is like buying something you can't fix, honestly. I suppose this is the way it is nowadays, we are moving away from the old-fashioned "small fix-it shop" world where an average Jane or Joe with tools and a little know how can fix what we rely on to "send it back to the factory" and have it replaced by an identical something.

Either that, or go to these commoditized, somewhat less-freedom, mass-market solutions like this. But then again...this works. There is a team paid to maintain it. This is a service.

It's funny, in the last couple years I feel the dream of 'running your own site' is dying. Browsers require SSL connections or they warn people off your site saying "not secure" - and you need to pay to get a certificate. Why do you need the certificate and the secure connection? Well, for one, so what you do and read on a site won't be harvested and sold by your ISP or carrier - just check the news recently. Of course, they still know you went here, but what you do here is hidden if you are coming in via https:// and something verified secure.

Another nail in the coffin of "doing it yourself" is security. The world we live in. I keep my site up-to-date as soon as patches come out, and I keep up on all the problems old versions have. But when you get a patch that wrecks your site, it wrecks it. If you don't have an on-call IT team or really great knowledge of what you run, you are out of luck.

Plus, the world we live in today is more complex. You need themes and sites that are mobile friendly. You think of mobile first nowadays, and gone are the old sites built for the desktop on the desktop, and the whole notion of "who cares about phone and tablet users?" Mobile is only one example, there are hundreds of other subjects like this to think about - and again, if you do it yourself you need to worry about them.

The big problem about commoditized systems is freedom. A lot of places don't like to touch mature subjects. A lot of places hide you from search if you have any sort of mature content. You live in obscurity, invisible to search, and found by word of mouth only.

A marketing professor once told me, "if your business plan is word of mouth then you need a new plan."

This applies to books on stores as well. If people can't find them, why write them? This has been my struggle with writing mature works, they languish in no-search land, they aren't really recommended to most readers, and the early halcyon golden days where mature works would show up in general store searches is over. Now, stores know better, and they cracked down (and keep cracking down).

Everyone wants to be family friendly.

I do give some stores a lot of credit, at least the books are still sold. They can't be marketed as what they are, but they are still on the shelf. The old "word of mouth" thing applies here as well, and you are back to square one.

It is why we protect free speech for everybody. Even if we don't agree with what they say. The "chilling effect" is just as bad as outright censorship. I feel if you say "I am triggered" by something and expect "action" you are a proponent of censorship. Old-time liberals in the 1960's and 70's would have had a stroke over the trigger-and-censor games happening today.

You have the right to be triggered by something, but you take that away and you take away your freedoms. Don't think this will be used against you or something you like some day, as the other often larger and better organized side will push for their people to be "triggered" and all of a sudden things that offend them will go away.

You were triggered and had action taken, right? What happens when a religious or morality group organizes millions of people to be constantly and vocally 'triggered' by things that should be protected by free speech or even equal rights? Things that you like and appreciate being produced. And not just for one time on social media, but for campaigns lasting months or even years with a constant stream of anger and organized vocal proponents?

You are not going to win that fight.

And things trigger me all the time, but I know better to keep quiet. They have that right, as do I. I speak up from time to time, but in this day of the 'weaponized troll' age it is better to be the better person and let your actions define you instead of getting into fights.

I talk about this because companies want to avoid this sort of heat. When they get heat, they crack down. What we can sell is shrunk and hidden away in some back corner. What we can say about our books is reduced. We have to use secret code words for things we should be able to say. Someone would be triggered, after all.

And as we move to commoditized systems we need to obey the rules.

This blog is an example. I have never reviewed or discussed mature content here, and my warning flag is not set - since this is my mainstream blog. This gets better hits than something flagged 'mature content' because it can be searched and seen. I infrequently update it, and it still gets better hits than a lot of other sites.

Such is the power of the chilling effect. Just ask those on video-sharing sites about automatic age-restrictions and demonetization. I feel their glory days are coming to an end now, where they could drop a couple f-bombs while playing a game and get thousands of viewers of all ages to subscribe.

Again, big companies don't like that. Everyone wants to be family friendly. Someone was triggered. Let's solve this problem. Let's put age-restrictions in place for those commentary videos that should not be heard by those who should not hear them. Let's hide them from searches and related video lists.

But I have a right to say these words on a video! Free speech! Yes, just like us writers have a right to write them in our books. Free speech.

And welcome to the shadow-covered land of obscurity. We erotica writers have been here a while.

Yes, protecting people from things they don't like seeing is a noble goal. Stores want to serve the most people in the best way. But when the 'targeted content' methods used prevent those who should or want to see this mature or edgy content take away that opportunity? That is the chilling effect.

If I were smart, I would quit writing erotica. The smart thing to do is write things that can be found, appear in searches and 'related reader' recommendations, and can go out on social media without being flagged and advertisements denied. But honestly, my heart is stronger than my brain on these matters. But I still hear my head when times get tough, like this current situation.

It is that voice in the back of your head saying, "Walk the easy path and walk away."

I am not saying I am yet, but this is the fight I fight in my head every day.

Work on restoring the site continues.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Ereaderotica.com is Down

No idea when we will be back up since the site went down today, so here is my personal blog. It looks like a Wordpress update took everything out so it may be a while until things are back to normal. I have my data downloaded so all reviews and content is secured and safe.

It is times like this when you wonder if it is all worth bringing back up. Maybe a change is needed. Maybe I need to refocus my life.

I am working on it. More soon.