The Hugos are fine. It’s a popularity contest with a small, self-selected sample, and frankly I ignore most everything everyone says about it (except for the juicy melodrama, naturally). They’re not a bad thing at all; it’s nice that people win them and I’m glad they make people happy.
But they have an outsized profile, as argued here. Frankly, I think the guy argues his point too forcefully (“Twaddle”? Please.) but then I stopped trying to drive traffic to my blog a long time ago. He’s right about the awards having a greater significance than they can really support. They’re small groups of people getting together to vote for things they like, which is 100% legit, but should that really be the basis for the most well-known spec fic award in this part of the world? 
Anyway, it’s worth reading down to the comments, because one of the authors the OP criticizes, Larry Correia, pops up to justify his behavior (“The smof cabal is against me!” “It’s all just self-promotion!”) and I made the mistake of following a link back to his blog.
Because as disinterested as I am in the usual award stuff, bullshit like this quote below, about Saladin Ahmed, nominated for his debut novel, is toxic:
Saladin’s a nice guy, and beloved by SMOF (we were up for the Campbell at the same time), but I’m predicting he’ll come in last, becasue this is his only book and he’s not built up a huge SMOF backer faction yet, but just having nominated a guy with an ethnic name will make the SMOFers feel all warm and tingly inside and good about themselves, so that’ll be enough for them.
(Tyops in the original)
That’s grade-A horseshit right there. However small the nominating pool was, whatever value should be placed on the Hugo itself, they nominated the man’s book because they liked the man’s book. Attributing it to “an ethnic name” is racist bullshit.
Awards! They bring out the whacky in people. Now I’ll go back to my previous policy of not talking about them.
 An awful lot of people hesitate to say a book is awful unless it has won/been nominated for an award.
 It’s obligatory for Certain People to respond to any awards criticism by saying “Oh, so the stuff YOU like didn’t make the ballot and that’s why you think everything SUCKS!” It’s an easy response. It’s the knee-jerk response. It doesn’t fit me. To be honest, I don’t think I read a single new book or story last year. Actually, scratch that: I picked up the latest Dresden Files from the library, but I wouldn’t want to give it an award. I don’t really like reading short fiction on my computer, and most of the books I read are a few years old (or more than a few). I’m not what you’d call “up to date” and I don’t worry about it. 
So no, this isn’t a complaint about What I Thought Should Be On The Ballot, because I have no idea what should be on there and have higher priorities when I’m reading new stuff.
 Also: No, I didn’t release any new work in 2012 that could have been nominated, since that typically has to be said, too.
This looks intense:
A friend of mine produced this, and it’s going to be fantastic.
personal The outside world: internet mac hate the boy
by Harry Connolly
Over the weekend I had a bit of a nasty surprise: I couldn’t download the most recent version of Turbo Tax because it requires OS X 10.6 or later. I still run 10.5.
If you’ll forgive me for saying so, this is bullshit. My computer is only five years old. There’s no reason for it to be considered obsolete and I shouldn’t have to order and install a new operating system just to do my taxes. (Note: please don’t suggest alternate programs I could use.) And yet, that’s exactly what’s happening.
Some time ago, my wife told me that she was incredibly proud that my books were going to be in the Library of Congress, because that meant they would last a long long time. In response, I said something to the effect of they’re on the internet, too, I think, and that should last even longer. Unfortunately, I no longer believe that to be true.
How many old filetypes are impossible to read now? How many types of physical media are worthless because no one has the disk drives to read them? Much of my early writing was done on a Brother WP75 and saved on 3.5 inch diskettes. Here’s a pic:
I dug it out because I came this close to donating it to charity. That machine was the bridge between a typewriter and an actual computer (my first real computer came from Gateway in 1994 and I had it so long that there was literally duck tape over parts of the case).
See the diskettes on there? Once the Brother stops working or I give it away, they become unreadable to me. Maybe I could find someone to take the files off and convert them, but that would be an iffy thing, and probably not cheap. (Luckily, it’s just early work and not important.) In all seriousness, the best kind of archive I could have of these would be in paper.
Note also John Scalzi’s recent post about his newest computer acquisition: no DVD drive. He doesn’t miss it because he doesn’t use DVDs, but I still do. I use them all the time, to watch movies, to play games, and to share large files
Speaking of large files, I copied hours and hours of home movies from a box full of mini-DV tapes onto a hard drive, and now that hard drive is being backed up to an online service. There’s so much data to save that I started the backup on January 3rd and, as of today, it’s only about 55% done. This shit is going to be going on until summer time, I kid you not.
And yet, when I’m an old man, will I be able to watch these videos? Will I be able to find a program that recognizes and mp4 or .dv? Worse, will I be able to buy a special adapter that will allow the external hard drive (with its ancient USB connector) to connect to whatever system is in vogue at the moment?
Will my son? I don’t doubt that he’ll have the storage space to keep them–in all likelihood, he’ll have a ring on his finger that he can download all 600+GB of data with room to spare. But will he be able to actually look at them, or show them to his own kids so they can see what we were like? Will he be able to read my old manuscripts?
It pisses me off. There’s such a rush to always have the New! and the Shiny! that things become obsolete even while they continue to function. Yes, I know it’s a way to sell things. Yes, I know companies are hunting for every bit of loose change rattling around in tech-happy early adopters’ back account. But they aren’t the only customers out there.
I’m a customer, too. I don’t want new and shiny. I want practical and long-lasting. I want this shit to make sense. Don’t phase out old media just because there’s a new supposedly-but-maybe-not-better way to do it (don’t even talk to me about “the cloud”). Don’t change operating systems so often that perfectly good computers can’t even run basic software (or watch embedded YouTube videos, or play silly games, or whatever).
Backwards compatibility, people. I want it, and I’m not the only one.
I see a lot of people calling out coverage of the Steubenville rape trial for being ridiculously concerned about the effects of a rape conviction on rapists, and they’re right to be angry.
However, there’s one thing I don’t see people talking about:
How incredibly common it is.
I know more than a few guys who lost their virginity by bringing a girl who was black-out drunk back to their room. It was a common enough thing in college.
To be clear, I never did this–I have never even found myself in that position–but a lot of guys have. When you see news people online talking about the awful consequences for those teenage boys, understand that they’re thinking That could be me/my husband/my brother/my best friend from college.
It’s hard for people to accept the idea that they or people they care about have done evil.
No really, that’s what he said! Good thing he was joking.
If you’re one of those people who have been going around the internet posting comments, tweets, and status updates like “Who’s this Veronica Mars? Kickstart me some more SERENITY!” you should probably click that link up there. He’s not planning to Kickstart a new Serenity movie because he’s tied up for the next several years with commitments, not to mention the commitments the actors have. Plus yada yada budget etc. Give it a quick read.
After that, you should read this post by LEVERAGE co-creator John Rogers, cleverly titled Veronica Mars Kickstarter Thoughts. If you want analysis from someone who is inside the TV business, Rogers is the guy to turn to right now. Until it was cancelled, Leverage was the only independently-owned TV show in the U.S. market, and he has a lot of insight about the nature of non-studio funding, whether Warner is taking a risk by giving the go-ahead, and much more. That’s worth reading.
Remember yesterday when I talked about ALL THE SHIRTS (limited-edition!) the VM people would have to deal with? Kickstarter fulfillment companies.
And, naturally, everyone is jumping up to say what shows should be next on the Kickstarter auction block: Chuck. Pushing Up Daisies. Sarah Connor Chronicles. Terriers. Deadwood.
Personally, none of those shows appealed to me in a serious way, so I’ll be waiting for that THUNDARR reboot.
Okay. Unless something very interesting happens, I’m going to lay off the TV Kickstarter posts for a while. I’ve got to steal time for my books at some point, right?
Currently I’m over 100K words on THE WAY INTO MAGIC, which is the sequel to THE WAY INTO CHAOS. I’m writing it as one long story, which is probably dumb, but there you go.
My life is incredibly dull! Good thing the internet is full of fun stuff.
I wanted to do a little followup on the Veronica Mars Kickstarter. Yeah, they made goal. You can see the current numbers below.
Hey, you could even click on it to toss in a few bucks. I did.
But that isn’t to say that I think the setup is problem-free. I mean, there are issues and it does no one any good to gloss over them.
For example, at the time I’m writing this, Rob Thomas et al are going to have to make and ship over 40,000 “limited edition” T-shirts. That has to happen even if not one more person makes a pledge. They’re also looking at 4500 signed (by the cast) movie posters so far. You want to talk about signing your name seven thousand times (which is the limit for that reward)? I sure wouldn’t want to do it.
So… yeah. That sort of order fulfillment could be a huge drain on time and resources, even if you bring in a couple of out-of-work people (or actors, even) to handle it for you. He’s going to need his own clothing unit. And assuming they max out the poster reward (which looks pretty likely) and that it takes five seconds to sign one poster and move to the next, each actor is looking at over nine and a half hours to sign them all.
No writing hand was made to handle all of that. Just one hour would bring on cramps.
But that’s minor stuff. A great many people have been complaining that this project is just a way for a major corporation (in this case, Warner Brothers) to crowdsource production costs for their new movie. Is this the wave of the future? Will studios “hold their properties hostage” until the fans pony up?
It’s doubtful. The Veronica Mars Kickstarter is doing very well because it has a solid fan base. Also, it’s first. There’s a power in novelty when you’re asking people to give you money, and if it keeps happening again and again, there just won’t be much buzz around it.
Unless it’s THUNDARR THE BARBARIAN. Thundarr will always get buzz.
I can certainly see studios and production companies turning to crowdsourcing to decide if they want to re-up for another season, or bring the old gang back for a movie. Loved VR-5 and want to bring it back? Throw money at the Kickstater! and if it doesn’t happen the studio doesn’t have to be bad guy any more. They can just say: “The fan base wasn’t there. We only made 48% of goal.”
As for turning to fans for money that studios could put up themselves, the studios already do this in spades. They make foreign rights deals, they bring in outside investors, etc. It’s always been a part of doing business.
The big difference is that those investors get actual cash money once the film makes a profit. Fans, not so much.
Would I like to see that changed? Yeah, absolutely, but it’s not as simple as it sounds.
About ten years ago, my buddy and I were planning to make a movie. It was going to be a solid horror film–scary but not stupid–and we hoped it would open some doors for us. (Spoiler! It didn’t). As we were planning it, I did some research on how producers raise funds.
It turned out that there were all these restrictions on where the money could come from and who could donate. As I recall (a decade later) the budget would have to be split into X number of even pieces and each donor would be limited to that amount. There were more rules, too, and they were complicated and annoying. That’s when I realized I was a novelist.
(Digression: How it came out: The director sort of pushed me, the writer, out. He got the money from somewhere. The movie was seriously flawed and went nowhere. The script wasn’t my best but it is online: pdf or shitty html. It’s not my best work)
The point being, there are very strict rules around asking people to invest in your project for a cut of the profits.
However! The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (aka the JOBS Act) which was signed into law last year, contains provisions for crowdsourcing an investment in a company, not just in a particular project/product. You can read a description of the law here but just to touch on a few issues, investors are limited to 5% or 10% of their annual income, companies must use an established third party to run things, a great many disclosures are required, and the goal is $1million or less, so it’s not going to work for television anyway. While the law was passed last year, the crowdfunding part is not yet active because the SEC hasn’t finished drawing up a set of rules yet.
So, yes, a corporation is offloading a sizable part of their costs on this project to the fans, but they offload costs as a part of their every day business, and there’s no legal framework in place to allow the fans to invest directly. They only have the option to pledge for rewards, which is essentially preordering the end product, plus swag.
Will this become the model of the future? I doubt it, but even if it did it would be a terrific hedge against piracy and a fine reason to ditch DRM (not that there aren’t already many, many reasons to ditch DRM). Companies wouldn’t have to worry so much about their product being torrented if the true fans had already chipped in.
So! As I mentioned earlier today, I backed the Kickstarter for the Veronica Mars movie, although I probably shouldn’t have. Not because I think there’s something wrong with a WB property being crowdfunded, but because money is tight and KS is a luxury item. I may cancel sometime in the next month.
Which should not be taken as condemnation of the project itself, of which there has been plenty.
This article by Richard Lawson in the Atlantic Wire seems like a good representative sample of the bullshit people are saying about who ought to crowdfund and when it should be seen as unseemly. Have a quote.
But here in the bourgie, comfy confines of wealthy Western society, we’re talking about people like the indie musician Amanda Palmer, who raised $1.2 million on Kickstarter to make and distribute a folk album. That’s all. Amanda Palmer, who is married to successful author Neil Gaiman and has been a prominent musician for a decade or so. Handed $1.2 million because she asked for it. People are free to spend their money however they want, but there’s something so unseemly about the asking, isn’t there? Maybe that reaction is owed to some overly reserved New England quality in me that I should fight against, but I can’t help but feel that Kickstarter campaigns for stuff like this, that is stuff people are having no trouble selling elsewhere, are a bit gauche. Plus it’s too easy.
Of course he has to take a nasty sexist dig at Amanda Palmer. Of course he has to mention that she has married comfortably (The article is obstensively about Rob Thomas’s project, so where’s a mention of his wife? The article fails to mention if he even has one.) Supposedly, Palmer is so successful that she has 100K laying around to fund her studio time and if she doesn’t, well, isn’t she a big enough name to get that money from record companies?
That money comes with strings attached, you say? Awful, debilitating strings? Apparently, that’s a bonus; we wouldn’t want things to be “too easy.”
Let’s consider the Veronica Mars movie: Maybe it will suck or be vaguely disappointing. That first season was so great while the second and third were a bit of a let down.
But the article writer above barely touches on that. His point is that this movie is a Warner property. They own the rights and will distribute the movie once it’s made. Since that’s the case, isn’t it kinda gross to be asking fans to front the money?
I’m going to step up here and say “Not at all.” Here’s why:
Warner does have control of the Veronica Mars IP, and they have no plans to a) do anything with it or b) surrender it to the original creator, Rob Thomas. It’s just gathering dust. After there was no interest in the season four promo video, the show was dead.
That’s why this Kickstarter makes sense: Fan support can make this happen. What’s more, fans want to be a part of it.
Would I be happy to see gross points in the reward levels? Shit yeah. Is having Rob Thomas and Kristin Bell follow me on Twitter for a year for $400 kinda tacky. Sure, I guess. Do I think they’re doing something really cool with this project? Absolutely.
Lawson doesn’t like the idea of seeing money talked about publicly. He wants artists to raise their money from “proper backers and investors” behind the scenes so he doesn’t have to see art mixed with commerce in such a public way. There’s a laundry list of why this is stupid, beginning with the fact that “proper” investors have already shown their disinterest, continuing through the idea that fans are “improper” backers, and finally ending with art and commerce have always been mixed who the fuck are you kidding?
It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that making things is difficult, especially when they require a large capital outlay. I’m pleased to see a movie like this crowdfunded successfully (or it will be at this pace) and I hope to see more.
You don’t have to pledge much to get a copy of the script before they shoot, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Over on Facebook, The Onion apologized for their nasty tweet last night where they called a little girl a cunt.
Feb. 25, 2013
On behalf of The Onion, I offer my personal apology to Quvenzhané Wallis and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the tweet that was circulated last night during the Oscars. It was crude and offensive—not to mention inconsistent with The Onion’s commitment to parody and satire, however biting.
No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire.
The tweet was taken down within an hour of publication. We have instituted new and tighter Twitter procedures to ensure that this kind of mistake does not occur again.
In addition, we are taking immediate steps to discipline those individuals responsible.
Miss Wallis, you are young and talented and deserve better. All of us at The Onion are deeply sorry.
That’s the way an apology ought to be done, with none of this “We’re sorry if people were offended” bullshit. Still, it would have been better not to make the mistake in the first place.
Always punch up. That’s the point of satire and mockery. I’m not sure who said it first, but you don’t make fun of the people who are weaker or more vulnerable than you; you go after the powerful and the comfortable.
That’s not just a good rule for life, it’s a good rule for fiction, too. If your protagonist gets snarky and mean to people less powerful than they are, they are a shitty person. Always punch up.
According to Twitter and other sources, there was some ugly, obnoxious shit aimed at the little girl who was nominated (weirdly, getting an “account suspended” page on that link), plus general awfulness. Apparently, it’s still going on, if you’re willing read the comments. Yeah, comments are ugly but it’s also a sign of who we are.
I’m not sure what’s supposed to be the point of making nasty remarks about the actors and directors whose work has been nominated. Puncturing the pretensions of people who make art? Please. It’s art, it’s supposedly the pinnacle achievement to win this sort of recognition, and generally-speaking people have to do great work for years to get to this point.
There’s this idea that the Oscars need to be entertaining for the masses, which I guess means taking digs at people.
Whatever. It’s just another set of awards, which means it’s pretty much meaningless except to those who are deeply invested in it. I just wish they didn’t judge the value of the ceremony by the ratings, and try to drive ratings with shitty behavior.
In other news, I was unusually active on my blog this weekend. To link back:
Why Libraries Still Matter: I respond to That Article.
EMP Followup I heard back from the Experience Music Project about PanelFail.
In which I deny my son an Xbox . My kid wants to play All The Games, but I expect something more from him.
Okay. Writing to do.