As I write this entry, the sun has not yet come up on a Saturday morning.
This has become my habit. Typically, after a long workweek and a nice Friday night out, I fall asleep quickly and wake up early, seemingly before the rest of the world — or, at least, ahead of the sun.
I get up, write my blog entries for the week, and then begin my weekend.
And I do it all for free.
This, of course, was the choice I made when I started this blog. I did not have a problem with it then, nor do I now. Eight months in, I have truly enjoyed watching this site develop; as I Tweeted last week, it has now been read in all 50 states along with 88 countries. Meanwhile, I possess a steady, satisfying full-time job in journalism that fulfills me financially as well as in other ways.
In short, I do not feel cheapened by giving these entries away for free.
But then there’s this.
Last week Tim Kreider wrote an article for the New York Times entitled, “Slaves of the Internet, Unite!”. He bemoaned the number of writers and artists willing to do their job for free, especially when asked by others (not necessarily when self-publishing blogs). Kreider is a terrific writer in his own right, peppering his column with vivid imagery and painfully funny anecdotes. Here is a choice example:
People who would consider it a bizarre breach of conduct to expect anyone to give them a haircut or a can of soda at no cost will ask you, with a straight face and a clear conscience, whether you wouldn’t be willing to write an essay or draw an illustration for them for nothing. They often start by telling you how much they admire your work, although not enough, evidently, to pay one cent for it.
Kreider’s column drew more than 650 comments and more than a few follow-ups from around the Internet. One such “Here, here!” came from my old guitar teacher, Michael Kovacs, who criticized a similar atmosphere in the music business:
I am not going to say that all new Music sucks. … I am not going to say that nobody goes to live shows … But I will say this: the value placed upon Music has, by all quantitative measures, reached a low point that nobody had seen coming. … No medium can truly grow when the makers of it are not given some affirmation of its value by the outside world.
This is the point I would like to examine.