What exactly are you getting with eBay?
- photo credit: clemson @ flickr
The problem with not blogging in a while (I had the worst flu of my life (in no way pork/swine/H1N1 related)) is the increasing pressure that when you come back you must write something of importance. I have no idea why this is, because if the actual act of blogging has taught me anything it’s that it tends to work best when I just throw things at the wall… (case in point that if my writing on copyright issues was nearly as popular as writing on how to get NHL game radio on iphones, I’d be a “noted media analyst” or something… that’s a metric-based title, right?).
So here’s something trivial – but utterly fascinating (I know this to be true because both times I’ve brought this up in conversation some stranger has butted into the conversation – apologized for overhearing – and asked for more information on specifics). Your mileage may vary.
Forging Ahead is Charles Stanish’s great article for the journal “Archaeology” which details how eBay has actually ruined the market for looted antiquities (and depressed the market for actual antiquities) by flooding the world with forgeries. It’s a fascinating read into how the digital age is having unintended consequences on very, very, disparate industries. Who’d have thought forgeries could protect against looting? Even more interesting is the extrapolations of how the lives of the (often poor, often local) individuals previously driven to antique looting are much improved through forgery instead (the short version is that much more money is kept at the grass roots level in trading in forgeries, as opposed to the comparative high risk and low return of smuggling).
I’ve been thinking about aspects of this a lot lately – not forgery, but unintended industry change brought on by the maturing internet – likely because of the recent (excellent) bi-annual Toronto Comic Art Festival. This is partly because I got the chance to meet a number of creators whom I adore, but whose work is also so “niche” that they likely wouldn’t have had a sustainable audience for their work even a few years ago. It’s also partly because of a chance encounter with someone from the comics field who I’ve never been able to thank properly for completely changing my approach to film (More on that another day).
(I have no idea who to H/T for directing me to the Stanish article – most likely one of those little “niche” publications Wired / Ars / or Slashdot).
No, I’m not going to post at any length about scans_daily getting shut down on livejournal. I’m not even linking to anyone else’s recaps, summaries, opinions, editorials, or interpretive dances – because I find almost everything on this event ridiculous across the board (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, consider yourself lucky and move on… nothing to see here). One “meta-camp” is arguing that s_d blatantly violated copyright (or, if they’re charitable, that most s_d users misunderstand both the spirit and letter of “fair use”). The other camp responds with their stringent beleif that the major comic publishers have neither any kind of electronic distribution roadmap, nor marketing strategy to target young digitally-savvy readers.
This is not really a philosophical argument for the decades since the, obvious, conclusion is that both sides are absolutely correct and neither is actually “arguing” with the other.
It’s like trying to determine the relative merits of “gravity is a strong physical force” vs. “geese are capable of long-distance flight”. Both sides are (at the core of their fiery hyperbolic vitriol) verifiable fact, and just because both happen to be angry with each other that doesn’t magically bring a correlation between their statements into existence. Everything else is just wasted hot air, and the usual internet flotsam and jetsam – and lord knows we don’t have enough of that already.
I actually discovered the group blog The Savage Critics because of Brian Hibbs interesting column Tilting at Windmills. There are all kinds of good blogs from the “through-the-looking-glass” world of comic-book retail – but Brian has a penchant for distilling all kinds of nit-picky retail data into a comprehensible fashion. He recently posted two quick lists of his store’s 2008 top-sellers (one for “books” and one for “comics” (“books” primarily refers to trade paperbacks and other collections not, say, prose – and “comics” refers to single-issue “floppies”… more or less).
Something fascinating struck me from Brian’s posts though. Digging through his “books” lists, I own (in some format or another) over 52% of the top 100 items from the “books” list… yet over on the “comics” list, I own less than 16% (and if you remove “DC Universe Zero” and “Trinity #1″ (which I got for free from my local shop), and a couple “Astonishing X-Men” (which I bought by mistake, although ended up enjoying) that’s less than 10% I actually intentionally shelled out money for.
Wired’s Threat Level blog has a great write up about a non-profit comic distributed to 50,000 US students which reads suspiciously like RIAA propaganda about file sharing.
The goals may be admirable:
“The purpose is basically to educate kids — middle school and high school-aged about how the justice system operates and about what really goes on in the courtroom as opposed to what you see on television,” said Lorri Montgomery, the center’s communications director.
but as Threat Level points out, there’s a lot of questionable questionable interpretation of law in “The Case of Internet Piracy”. Plus, there’s a nice framing story about eminent domain. Because I know I’d buy a lot more comics if the Justice League kept getting evicted so the city could build public works. Read more
Almost a week ago, D.J. Coffman announced that he’s putting his (really fun) Hero by Night on hiatus due to late payments by Platinum Studios. His post immediately reignited the eternal argument about the importance of creators rights in comics (see, pretty much any post from this site two weeks ago).
And while I agree with much of the sentiment behind the “hooray for self-determination” school of thought on creators rights – it does tend to overlook large areas where the current self/Internet publishing models might really suck for a lot of emerging creators.