I’m writing this on the plane (SF to NYC) while I watch Mission To Mars (extremely crappy movie, BTW). The coolest thing about United Airlines is that they give free headphones and their newer planes have little flatscreen TVs in each seatback. You can also listen to the cockpit and air traffic tower radio conversations through one of the audio channels (Cool! Maybe that’s just the geek in me…).
WebZine2000 on Saturday was fun. I went in not knowing what to expect and came back with a head full of ideas after talking to some of the most intriguing people and artists working on the web today. I met the woman who is evangelizing skipping as a form of exercise complete with a web site and a funky outfit. I met fellow New Yorker Philip Kaplan of fuckedcompany.com, who is currently making the bookmark lists of some pretty powerful people in the media world. Most of the Pyra gang was there including Derek Powazek talking about sfstories.com and fray.com.
The panel I was on was a blast, complete with a drag queen and microphones for everyone. I talked about weblogs a bit, and also told the story about how I was fired from my job several years ago because of my personal web site. Peoples’ reactions were enthusuastically positive and supportive of just about everyone’s ideas, initiatives, web sites, and funky ideas. All in all, a great time with excellent discussions, performance art (smashing a typewriter with a bat), and funky swag.
Fray Day 4 is September 22 in San Francisco. This is something I’m going to try and make it to, but I need to schedule the time off and buy a plane ticket. Maybe I’ll take a week or two and also travel to L.A. to visit some old friends.
Much thanks to my new friend Candice for introducing me to Sliders in the Castro district. Yummy cheap hamburgers!
Book Update: So, my coworker (and co-author) David met with our book editors last week during the O’Reilly conference. The publisher is very enthusiastic about our book outline and sees our book as just the first in a series of books they want to publish. This is awesome!
Oh yeah, I also met Sarah Bunting from tomatonation.com. Sarah is an extraordinarily gifted writer who publishes lots of sarcastic/funny essays on her web site every week. I’m going to try and have lunch with her next week in New York.
I am continually amazed at the reach of my web site. It seems that every conference or web get-together I go to I run across another fan or regular reader of CamWorld. What’s interesting to note is that my audience is really wide, wider than I ever expected. For instance, I had people at both the O’Reilly conference and WebZine2000 come up to me wanting to shake my hand and thank me for keeping such a great site up and running so regularly. These two audiences are so differnet it’s not even fair to compare them. The only link between the two is the web. I experienced this very same thing at SXSW back in March, which is another whole audience altogether. At WebZine2000 I claimed that I knew who my audience was, but now I am having second thoughts. I thought I knew who was reading CamWorld but recent experiences have proven that I really don’t. It’s a fascinating thing to think about, especially since we’re told by the experts that our sites should cater them. Maybe that’s just for commercial sites, though and shouldn’t apply to the artistic kinds of sites I saw at WebZine2000.
What kind of bothered me at WebZine2000 was that everyone was desperately seeking outside funding, venture capital and/or advertising to help support their site. I found this kind of odd considering that I’ve turned down advertising offers on CamWorld several times. Every time, my reason was that CamWorld was a personal web site and that advertising might corrupt the message. When advertising and/or money become more important to you than your web site, maybe you should re-think your site’s purpose.
This is different, though for sites like Salon.com which only exist because of advertising. Any time a web site needs to start paying for content in order to continue, than maybe the advertising model should be considered. It’s been proven again and again that the paid subscription model does not work on the web. And the voluntary paymnet model doesn’t work either (“…everything on the web is free, right?”). The only model that really works then is the micropayment model where you pay for how much content on the web you read. Systems like payPal are already being set up to accommodate this model, so the only thing left to do is educate the web users and the web builders about how it works. Ideally, we’d want the control of these funds to be at the ISP level so that you pay your five bucks a month or whatever along with your Internet access. Your ISP can then coordinate with the PayPal using web sites to keep track of what IP numbers have associated PayPal accounts. If there is a match, then the site allows access. If not, then it denies it. The only catch here is that ISPs become the point of monetary control on the web, and that’s historically something they don’t want. This may be changing with the mergers and acquisitions in the ISP market. It’s entirely feasible in a few years that there will only be 2 or 4 ISPs nationwide that will control over 90% of the Internet acceess market.
Posted by Cameron Barrett at July 23, 2000 07:32 PM