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Archive for the category “writing”

Making Work = Job

There is an on-going lament about “Where have all the jobs gone?” or variations on that theme.  The single most common aspect of the question seemingly being that “job” is a tangible item which some diffuse other retains control over and to whom you must apply in order to be paid for work performed.

In the now-past Industrial Revolution there was a quite deliberate truth behind that belief.  Welcome to the 21st century.

One of the most widely occurring and historically repeated models of attaining economic self reliance is that of the story teller.  In the modern world, this most often takes the form of being a writer of some niche application or expertise; technical manuals or instructions, computer code, science fiction (some overlap in those three, I think), poetry, screenplay, music and on and on.  This post is about making that sort of work into an income producing job for far more of us than is ordinarily believed possible, and Jobster is its name-o.

In my experience, the hardest part of telling a story is how to begin.  Which seems completely silly until you start to actually think about how much of a story actually doesn’t appear on the page (or screen, as you prefer).  Known as the “back-story”, these are all the tiny and overwhelming details that combine to give the characters and their actions both context and believability, but don’t achieve direct mention in the actual telling of events except possibly as a bit of background color.  The classic opening line, “It was a dark and stormy night …” would quite possibly be the stereotypical example of this, and the Star Wars sext-ology a recent example of failure in this part of story development.  What follows is how to create all of this (so as to be better able to tell the good bits to others for money) and how to make doing so into an industry that carries a great many more of us into the 21st century than you might think.

Jobster is a job board/career development site that presently offers traditional job availability/application services mixed with modern networking technology that patches together 19th century employment structures with very-late 20th century labor resources (that last would be a cumbersome euphemism for you and me).  In the doing of, Phil Bowermaster and his cohorts at Jobster have in place the infrastructure to re-create an industry that few can find entry into (never mind financial success) and hopefully expand our entertainment and information acquisition experience far beyond our present range of possibility.

All good propositions have a succinct definitional or mission statement; this is as close as I can come to one:

STORY TELLERA job board that provides all of the support functions needed by successful authors

Story Teller is a writers development tool for any genre or production format.  Deliberately modeled after the straightforward Turbo Tax Q&A process of content development by non-experts, Story Teller provides the structural framework for an author to create a consistent “back-story” environment within which to relate information to an audience.  By creating this wealth of back-story detail, the writer builds a contextual infrastructure to support any reference requirements the story might require during telling.  Who are the characters involved, what are the circumstances and technology experienced, when do events take place, Where are characters located during the course of the tale, why do actions occur; once these have been worked out as fully as possible in advance (and there will be need for some back-story on-going editing required) finally the how (the actual story or information being offered for sale) can be told by as many authors as the originator can interest in his creation.

The devil is ever in the details (and despite some of my more questionable predilections, I fall well short of that standard), but some of the major support functions Story Teller would need to provide would include:

1) Tax and contract legal advice links.  These could take the form of links to “boilerplate” legal contract sites up to a paid member service of retained counsel from legal professionals directly.

2) Reference links.  While I like refdesk and wikipedia, this would probably require a more refined search function than is currently available from those two.  As a start though, they’re a good beginning as they are (see also: 7 below).

3) Editorial support.  This would involve the classical editor functions, but also include links to those wishing to work as “reader”, page/cover illustrator or researcher as well.  The possibility of these services being for direct cash or on a limited sales profit-sharing basis needs to be explored and appropriate contracts developed.

4) Co-Author job posting requests.  This works from either end of the deal; author needs help or author wants to help (a good deal of specificity would be required for such notices to be useful I expect).  In addition to expansion of the existing Jobster model, this is an avenue for Jobster to make a business alliance with an established publishing house (for the record, I like and hereby nominate Baen books for a lot of reasons – only some of which are the cracking good authors who publish there and the management team with a proven history of being willing to look beyond established market and industry standards).  Such an alliance would offer new opportunities for the established writers as well as provide vital assistance with the next point of emphasis, to wit:

5) Marketing.  In addition to the now-traditional “Hey look, my book is for sale” tug on Instapundit‘s blogospheric cape, the capability to combine the advertising resources of both Jobster and an established publisher’s promotional expertise should result in sales potential far beyond anything either can currently economically achieve independently.  This would result in a vast increase for potential markets for all authors as well as increased profitability for both members of the business alliance.

6) Back-story Development.  This is the crux of the thing, the point upon which all of the fulcrum above rests.  Broken down to its basics, a story consists of the classic detectives line of questioning; who, what, when, where, why and only then can the tale be told as the how.  Eric S. Raymond is one of the premier open source software developers alive today, has no idea I’m bruiting his name about this way, and should be the first person Jobster contracts with to develop this concept (OK, second :)).  To make Story Teller function as intended will require that the operating code architecture be written such that it can be easily adapted to a variety of story development and presentation requirements.  Having an open source menu of roughly pre-formatted options from which individual story tellers can select offers the least demanding entry-level requirement for new story tellers to achieve; the emphasis being on telling their story and not displaying their code-adapting skills.  Besides, esr has more contacts in the open source coder’s market than most along with a sterling reputation; his involvement in this project will result in it being accomplished much more quickly – not to mention better – than other likely available options could achieve for a good deal more expense.

7) Story Teller must be at minimum a two-tiered structure.  The open-to-all page (see the Baen link in 4 above as example) should provide links to all material available for sale (possible partnership with Amazon or a competitor here) as well as a “New Writer Sponsorship” link.  The NWS link would offer a bare bones version of the Story Teller development software for a new writer to display his concept for established writers to consider.  The secondary level would by for paid members, which is how Story Teller becomes a business entity.  Membership fees should be nominal (US$120/year) but include a modest (10%?) percentage of all sales made of products developed on Story Teller.  Members automatically have access to all networking, research and editorial support contractors and receive access to legal and tax professional assistance at a negotiated per-transaction fee.  Members can arrange a contract to co-develop a story with an NWS writer by sponsoring the new writer into Story Teller membership (paying the membership fee for a year).  There should be a tertiary forum/library in which members can document/debate stipulated metrics for character types (do vampires sparkle or not?) and technology (how does that space drive work?) which should permit members to directly link to stories under development.

8) This software needs to be written in such a fashion that it be readily adaptable to other applications of a generally similar, but discrete, market

This initial proposal is intended to introduce a digital network-based solution for individuals to create an income for themselves in an era of Industrial Revolution-model economic decline.  To defile a metaphor, the buggy whip market is going even further away and taking much of the rest of traditional human-centric “manufacturing” with it.  I propose we build a new, digital manufacturing industry, initially around the creation of entertainment and education, but adaptable to many other applications also.  This is but the first step in that industry developing process, but offers entry into all the rest at a comparatively minimal initial cost that offers considerable long-term ROI potential in its own right.

As I said, Sun Tzu wrote his own job application; this is mine.

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Does This Make Me Look Cheat?

So, Tam wrote a post recently (Ha; bet you thought I was going with this one didn’t you?) in which she made the observation, “This is what comes of the gradual shift of the word “elitist” from an aspiration to a pejorative.”

To which I thought in reply, “But its always been both, hasn’t it?’

If you think of yourself as being among the elite, that you personally, not just your actions/opinions are superior to the people around you, then you are a [insert crude slang word for the appropriate human genitalia here] and the personification of the very word “pejorative”.  OTOH if the majority of those around you consider you to be among the elite in whatever is under discussion, you’re probably doing whatever it is just about well enough.

I take Tam’s point to have been that these days people seem to actively aspire to the pejorative type of elitist behavior in the mistaken belief that doing so is the way to achieve the admired result.  That pretending skilled accomplishment deserves equal respect to actually being accomplished at some task requiring developed skills.  That the perquisites and considerations they receive from others is what those judged to be superior are really all about.

I considered elitist thinking back in 2006 at Gary Gagliardi’s old Warrior Class blog (where I first started blogging in late 2005).  One of the more questionable hallmarks of elitist behavior is the assumption that the status is inheritable or somehow transmissible from another.  This is the objection I have to Albert Nock’s theories regarding the elite condition; that somehow this is an inherent attribute present in some people but not others.  Call me cynical, but the following makes me think he wasn’t being quite as rigorous in his pronouncements as he is credited with being:

“In the mid-1920s, a small group of wealthy American admirers funded Nock’s literary and historical work…”

 Horses and carts come to mind as does biting the hand that feeds, and all that.

In my belief, true individual elite status is bestowed upon you by those both familiar with you and who are themselves regarded as being worthy to make such a judgement.  Elite status can be lost by you for being seen as assuming the perks of that status rather than accepting them.  Merely being the child/nephew/inheritor of an elite person will give you a certain advantage of opportunity to achieve such a status judgement for yourself, but attaining such a regard is on you.  Ask Paris Hilton, for only one example.

Or Tam herself.  Elite gun blogger isn’t necessarily a well-defined specialty, but having an established history of subject knowledge mastery and personal expertise is certainly part of it. 

Taking Issue

M. Simon writes the Power and Control blog and has been critically commenting on events in Japan involving the nuclear reactors there (starting here, here, hyperbolicly here and pretty much daily right up to here (just keep scrolling).

Let me interject by stipulating that I know considerably less about nuclear plant operations than does quite possibly anyone else outside the Kalahari desert, though I do know how to read English and have made an effort to grasp what I can from these nuclear amateurs (they not being professional Navy Men you understand).

My objection to M. Simon’s characterisation of events up to now lies mostly (discounting my confessed schadenfreude over a professed libertarian arguing in favor of government/military forces occupying civilian businesses) with his willingness to attribute motive and disregard for safety to those whose actions he is in no way personally familiar with nor has any sort of reliable information regarding. This strikes me as both damaging to Mr. Simon’s reputation (which I find distressing any time it occurs to someone who’s writing I otherwise enjoy) and – at this point in the proceedings – entirely beside the point, assuming a successful resolution to the event is a desired outcome (which I believe to be the case here). I commented to that effect (and more, I fear) in response to his most recent post. While not interested in a blog flame war (and won’t participate in one), I did feel obligated to point out the position I have taken on the subject (besides, I haven’t anything else to babble on about just at the moment – content is content :)) which I concluded thusly:

I’m a veteran of the same USN you are (if an Airdale instead of a Nuke) and am well aware of just how slow to adapt Navy maintenance standards are. I’m also not going to attempt to argue that Japanese governmental (indeed, social) practices aren’t culpable in the recent events – I’ve been stationed there too and know better. Trying to argue that USN non-civil regulatory compliant practices (however “safe” they might have proved in practice) are somehow a practical alternative for a non-military mission oriented civilian operation to employ is disingenuous in the extreme. Having retired military with the appropriate training and experience performing independent inspections (under authority of national law enforcement) very well might be, but I haven’t read that argument being made on these pages either.

A confused and poorly told story about cataclysmic events half a world away actually strikes me as being entirely expectable and within the established norms of news reporting generally. Having counter-factual statements being issued by a variety of uncoordinated sources (governmental and otherwise) also strikes me as an expected occurrence following such a massively disruptive event (indeed, the opposite would seem evidence to me of a deliberate cover-up effort). Making condemnatory statements and broad policy observations based on partial and acknowledged-to-be incomplete information strikes me as ill-advised and damaging to the reputation, but feel free to Carry on, Sir!

If his intent is to prepare an “I told you so!” circumstance, Mr. Simon is well situated. If his intent is to inform, I think he dis-serves himself and his readership (an undesirable outcome for a professed professional writer, I would think). While acknowledging his vastly superior grasp of the technology involved compared to my own, I hope to read a more even-handed and reliably informed opinion in his future posts on this topic.

And, The Fatwa Is Declared In 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 –

The boys – and girl apparently – of HillBuzz have really shown their talent for provocative commentary this time:

Taking inspiration from a recent public statement by newly elected Member of Congress Allen West, HillBuzz fellow-blogger Bridget goes all editorial-like and illustrates the present reality obfuscated by the Coexist bumper sticker ethos.

Well done you.

I generally tend to prefer this one, but endorse Bridget’s version too:

(which came to my attention here who attributes it’s original creation to this fine fellow.)

Is there a market in second-hand fatwas? If so, what am I bid?

Update: So, this is what happens when you hurry through a post before leaving for work; you don’t RTWT as closely as you ought to and miss important little details. Like, for instance, that the coexist drawing actually comes from here almost a year ago. Oh well, it’s still a good illustration of Islam and I still endorse the sentiment it expresses.

Not sure what I’d do with a fatwa anyway. Well, I am, but just blurting it out like that wouldn’t seem to be very strategic-minded, now would it? 🙂

Hot Off The Presses

RobertaX is test marketing a novelization of her sf stories I Work On A Starship. I’ve read several installments over the last couple years (or so; who keeps track of their casual reading schedule?) and I must say the lady has the story-teller’s gift.

Definitely worth a double sawbuck; go check it out.

Desperately Seeking Context

Via Instapundit comes notice of a prime example of the headline writers art. Do appreciate the somewhat-less-than subtle avoidance of blatant editorializing by the no-doubt deliberate lack of any “Well …”.

There are standards to be maintained after all. Usually in the Evening over there.

In the US national context Prof. Reynolds noted, I recommend waiting until early December this year when the potential for a much increased bag is likely. Much like politics itself, bragging rights are very much a numbers game, don’cha know.

Great Minds (snicker! :))

Via Instapundit comes notice of Jonah Goldberg’s latest contribution to Commentary Magazine in which he examines the nature and degree of Barack Obama’s putative socialism.

Ahem!

Obviously, Mr. Goldberg has gone into considerably more depth and provides much greater detail, but he gets paid to do all that . Nonetheless, we arrive at similar enough conclusions that I find myself sort of surprised.

I know, even a stopped clock gets it right twice a day. Allow me my moment, please.

Good one, Jonah; too bad about that slow editorial cycle. 🙂

Bumped (and edited)

Yo, Tamara! Does the Volk-meister happen to do video also?

———-

[Fade In]

An unoccupied stage with dark floors and lighter-colored walls, sparsely decorated to be indicative of a corner in an apartment or house living room.

Off camera, a series of men’s and women’s voices are heard saying a variety of legitimate TEA Party issues; excess taxes, unfunded government spending, unresponsive political representatives, etc. Interspersed with each issue statement is a series of crowd still photos from various TEA Party gatherings in the US and UK. Each photo should be identified as to place and date and each should ideally show an increase in crowd size from the previous picture.

Enter from stage right a man dressed in typical Brooks Bros. 2-piece business suit, tie slightly loosened, holding a plastic bottle of Lipton’s brand Diet Iced Tea. He looks out stage center-to-right as if looking over a gathered crowd. Man glances stage left as another man, dressed in typical English “country squire” attire strolls up holding a cup and saucer in his hands. Second man nods politely to the first and also looks off into the middle distance stage right.

First man nods politely back and inquires in a standard mid-American accent: “Tea?”, while slightly extending his bottled drink toward the second man.

Second man makes a small lifting gesture with his cup and saucer and replies in a broad English accent: “Indeed.”

The two each take a small sip from their respective drink container and return to looking off into the middle distance slightly stage right. The scene dissolves to a blank screen with the boldly lettered word “FREEDOM” across the screen, with “It’s THE Human Right” written in slightly less bold print immediately below.

[Fade Out]

There’s your TEA Party message.

———-

I got more, too, should anyone be interested.

Reasonable rates.

A Commercial I’d Like To See

[Fade In]

An unoccupied stage with dark floors and lighter-colored walls, sparsely decorated to be indicative of a corner in an apartment or house living room.

Off camera, a series of men’s and women’s voices are heard saying a variety of legitimate TEA Party issues; excess taxes, unfunded government spending, unresponsive political representatives, etc.

Enter from stage right a man dressed in typical Brooks Bros. 2-piece business suit, tie slightly loosened, holding a plastic bottle of Lipton’s brand Diet Iced Tea. He looks out stage center-to-right as if looking over a gathered crowd. Man glances stage left as another man, dressed in typical English “country squire” attire strolls up holding a cup and saucer in his hands. Second man nods politely to the first and also looks off into the middle distance stage right.

First man nods politely back and inquires in a standard mid-American accent: “Tea?”, while slightly extending his bottled drink toward the second man.

Second man makes a small lifting gesture with his cup and saucer and replies in a broad English accent: “Indeed.”

The two each take a small sip from their respective drink container and return to looking off into the middle distance slightly stage right. The scene dissolves to a blank screen with the boldly lettered word “FREEDOM” across the screen, with “It’s THE Human Right” written in slightly less bold print immediately below.

[Fade Out]

There’s your TEA Party message.

I am Immortalised

Well, digitally anyway.

I’ll just go check my hat’s fit again. 🙂

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