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Eric: And now, we achieve infrastructure.

Now here's something interesting. Randy Milholland of Something Positive did an interview with the Guardian on online fundraising, cyberbegging, and the difference between them. It's a good piece, and it actually puts Milholland's story out accurately (which is never a certainty in these matters). It's worth a read if you're at all interested in how the web is transforming asking for money.

That being said, it raises a red flag for me. One that goes back to my last snark on the subject. You see, one of bits the article goes into is a new service called Dropcash, which links Typekey (you all know Typekey -- it's the authentication service that Websnark uses to keep people from easily being able to comment, as part of my ongoing effort to spread rage and insanity across the land. So far, it's working) to Paypal and gives a progress bar page to keep track of your progress.

Which means we now have a ready made infrastructure for people who are developing fundraising goals. It is now officially simple to organize a campaign to raise money.

You know, I used to keep an online journal, back before the turn of the century, that did pretty well. I got a couple of thousand readers at its height (I was going through a medical drama then, and pathos=ratings, my friend). This was before Livejournal, before Blogger, before Movable Type. Heck, the first version of the page was before CSS. I coded each new entry page manually, then uploaded it, then changed all the necessary links to it. There was a small community of journallers in those days, so it was relatively easy to keep up with each other, and there was more than a little work to get things going. You had to understand HTML, server configurations -- all kinds of things.

And it got popular, so the folks at Blogger made a tool to make it easier. And then came Livejournal, and all its spinoffs, and Movable Type, and all the rest. And now anyone who wants one can have an online journal, and we all do as a result. And unless you have a specific purpose blog (like, well, the one you're reading now), you're a celebrity of some stripe for some reason, or you're young, pretty, female and uninhibited you probably don't have more than a few dozen readers, if that. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, either -- it's just that in a land of plenty, people graze from the plates that are near them instead of seeking out the tasty cheeses at the front of the room.

It's the same with webcomics. When there were no automated systems for posting, revising, updating and archiving, it was harder to put your comic on the web and less people did. Now, between Keenspace and the Autokeenlite scripts (and, pretty soon, the Webcomicsnation hosting service), it's become dead simple to put an automated webcomic up. And people do. By the truckload.

We've had a few instances of donation drives/membership models working well, but there's been some barriers involved with setting up infrastructure, even with Paypal. Now, it's going to be dead simple to set up a funding drive. Simple enough that everyone will do it. Hell, I might set one up myself, under the title "Eric wouldn't mind owning a high definition television he can mount to his wall." Not that anyone would donate to it, because why the Hell do you care what's hanging on my wall, but it'd be simple enough to do so why not?

Why not indeed.

In the land of plenty, people graze with what's near to hand. When everyone has a fund drive going, they'll each get twelve people donating money to their cause, and no one will actually meet their goals.

I wonder if Amway started like this.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at September 16, 2004 12:56 PM


Comment from: EDG posted at September 16, 2004 1:24 PM

I still want to see Websnark T-shirts.

Not necessarily relevant. I'm just sayin'.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at September 16, 2004 1:39 PM

My favorite suggestion I've heard so far is CafePress babydoll Tees, boxer shorts and thong underwear (all currently available) with "You had me, and you lost me" on it. Though I'm a little afraid I'd see an ex-girlfriend wearing it. The tee-shirt, that is.

Comment from: Senji posted at September 16, 2004 4:39 PM

Hmm, the main reason I've never done a webcomic is lack of talent.

Unfortunately this doesn't stop many other people...

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at September 16, 2004 4:45 PM

Like, say, your humble host.

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