Campaigners seem to be having some success in raising the profile of writers and others giving away the product of their labour for free. The first time I ran into this issue in any big way was in launching the Government 2.0 Taskforce with a design competition. The prize? The love and adulation of the community. Now the case against being asked to do stuff for free has made it onto Books and Arts Daily on RN, where after a nervous start, I thought the editor of the new Daily Review did a good job.
I was surprised last night to follow a tweet by libertarian Russ Roberts to this takedown of TEDx. When this guy explained “Why I’m Not a TEDx Speaker” I thought he might be about to decry its relentless drive down market. But no – it was because he wasn’t going to get paid.
Ok, some advice please. I just got a request from a book publisher to reproduce a piece I wrote a while back. It will be in a book for use in secondary schools, a collection of essays on Australian politics with a print run of 2000. While they ask for copyright permission, they are very careful not to mention payment.
So my question is, do I ask for some sort of payment on the basis that writers should be paid? Or do I make an exception because it is being used for educational purposes?
You can read others’ comments on his thread. But I reproduce my own to begin the debate out in the open rather than inside the walled garden of Facebook, which, as I point out in my comment, has the temerity to have Tim writing for it, yet all the while not paying him a cent! Not only that but all those commenters arguing that publishers should pay their contributors, well there they are, giving away their own writing, the sweat of their brow.
I’m shocked: shocked! Continue reading
To defend free speech does not mean you cannot criticise how others exercise it. The very opposite, if anything. With weaker legal restrictions on, say, racist insults there should be stronger social sanctions – criticism, debate, counter-arguments. It’s called manners, and when were conservatives ever against those? It’s just that I believe we are safer when manners are determined organically, by free people freely talking things over, than by an elite using the organs of the state to punish opinions they do not like and silence people they like even less.
Considering the source, I’m reminded of La Rouchefoucauld. Nonetheless, Bolt stands out as the epitome of a mannerly conservative: unfailingly respectful to his patrons and superiors, equally contemptuous of his enemies and other inferiors. Including those he purports to inform and enlighten.
I’ve complained before about the strange state of the world. On the one hand we can set up fabulously useful markets for stuff on eBay and Amazon where you can not only find just what you’re looking for (if it’s available) but are also made aware of things that, based on what you’ve previously bought or liked, you might like, but you can’t get the same service for events on around you. And here the market for events is divided into the heavily marketed standard fare – mainstream films, and Big Arts for instance – and the not so much. Of this there’s what you might call ‘mainstream arthouse’ which is also heavily marketed, and then there are lots of other events like festivals where there are once off events. And here you’re at the mercy of the marketers of the festivals. For instance the British Film Festival started last night and had a film on that it said was pretty swish. The reviews say it’s pretty horrible, but you have to do a bit of work to find that out. True, with Google, it’s much less work than it used to be, but then there are a lot of events on. And I would check out perhaps one per cent of those events.
Meanwhile the government which should be in the business of funding public goods is nevertheless in the business of subsidising private goods. It subsidises the Art Gallery to further its own interests and feather it’s own nest, and the Recital Centre, and the ABC and the Opera and so on. They’re all taking to the internet with their cool new apps. But that isn’t solving the problem, but rather replicating it. Why? Because us users continue to receive a service that’s fragmented which wastes our time and misleads us with marketing bumph rather than addressing our needs (to mainly go to events we’re likely to like.)
But there you go. Complaints are only ever surfaced so as to spur action to solve them – that’s one of our corest of core values on “Our Values Charter” at Troppo. So I’ve asked Anoop, Lateral Economics’ designer-cum-research-assistant in India to do the basic legwork necessary to produce a schedule of a film festival with our interests as potential patrons in mind. So instead of the marketing bumph on the official website, I’ve asked Anoop to go find the two best reviews he can find, and to put up the synopsis, and links to the trailer denoted by this icon and the best reviews together with their ratings either as expressed by them in stars out of five, or as they have rated them themselves. So below the fold you’ll find the schedule for Melbourne. It immediately demonstrates the difference between marketing bumph and reviews. The opening movie is described on the official website as “A superb, celebratory crowd-pleaser, with a gorgeous performance from the affable Corden as an inspirational nobody who dared to follow his dream against all odds.”. Maybe that’s right, but you should at least know that the Guardian reviewer reported it as being a “weirdly miscast. . . treacly, tepid heartwarmer”. The bad news is that with this kind of shoestring operation, you would probably have liked to know this before last night when it was on. But the rest of the festival is similarly unlocked for you. Imagine if markets in information actually worked a little more directly to actually help consumers! It really shouldn’t take much.
@Palace Cinema Como
Wednesday 20 November
Thursday 21 November
Dear President Yudhoyono
Or can I call you Susilo? We like to use first names here in Australia. It’s a sign of informality. It indicates that you’re not wanting to be stand-offish. If you like we can go with middle names so that’d be Bang Bang right? You can call me Tone, or even John If we’re doing middle names
Anyway I gather from reading the papers that you’re a little bit cheezed off. Well let me tell you I am too. It was the previous government that may or may not have done the things that I refuse to confirm nor deny. It’s their fault. It’s also the fault of exceptionally highly paid journalists on the taxpayer teat who seem to think that having a free media means that they are allowed to freely publish whatever they feel is newsworthy. You’ve asked for a promise that it’ll never happen again, and let me say that my people are working on it as we speak. These journalists will regret ever humiliating you, and I for one will make them pay. Continue reading
Yes folks, I’m not joking.
This is perhaps the most storied chess game in history. Frank Marshall the US champion developed a gambit to tackle the great Capablanca – a Cuban and the most talented player in the world. But he didn’t want Capa to get notice of it before he had a chance to play it on him. So he waited and worked on the analysis of the Marshall gambit or the Marshall Attack in which black sacrifices a pawn for the most dangerous attack.
Many such ancient chess favourites are relegated to curiosities in modern times as modern analysis shows up their flaws. But the Marshall remains in play to this day. But a webpage has been set up to take you through the game on that fateful day for which Marshall had patiently waited for nine long years 1918 (Ok the years were no longer than normal years – I just got carried away. But you get my drift).
Anyway, play through the game and find out what happened.
The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer came back into the news on Monday (11 November), with reports[i] on a paper published in Nature Geoscience which finds that reductions in chlorinated fluorocarbon (CFC) emissions achieved under the Montreal Protocol have contributed to the lower rate of global warming since the 1990s. This is because CFCs – and other halogenated hydrocarbons covered by the protocol – are also greenhouse gases, socutting these emissions provides a double benefit for the environment.
According to the Commonwealth Department of the Environment the Montreal Protocol ‘is widely considered as the most successful environment protection agreement’. Well, they would say that wouldn’t they? Them being a federally funded sheltered workshop for greenie policy wonks and all. Put that cynicical idea aside, however, and you’ll find that there are good reasons to hail the Montreal Protocol as a success. I’ll restrict myself to two:
- First up, the Montreal Protocol is the first international environmental treaty to achieve universal ratification. That’s merely a political success but it does demonstrate that it’s possible to get at least universal lip service to international action to deal with international environmental problems;
- According to NASA’s Ozone Watch, the Antarctic Ozone hole reached its largest extent on 24 September 2006 – it’s now a lot smaller, so there was enough genuine commitment on the part of signatories to make the protocol work.
The Montreal Protocol isn’t the only international protocol on the environment that has been a success: the Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution has been equally successful in dealing with the problem of acid rain. It’s worth remembering these lessons of recent history in the current political climate where it seems so many are advocating, as their bottom line on dealing with climate change, that the responsible position for Australia to take is ‘We won’t ‘til you do and so there’.
I’ve often considered this distinction at the back of my mind, but never really given it much explicit thought. While actively hostile discrimination - for instance on the basis of race of gender – is still around, there’s not much of it about. On the other hand people not only like those they’re already familiar with, but are more comfortable with those who are like them. This is clearly discrimination (in one sense) and it’s clearly bad for you if you’re not in the favoured group. But it’s not driven by hostility except in so far that one might say that we retain some instinctive hostility towards or fear of strangers.
Anyway here’s a paper that explores the distinction between what it calls ‘discrimination’ on the one hand and ‘favouritism’ on the other, or if you feel like a little greek, endophilia versus exophobia. It looked at the marks examiners gave university papers when the nationality and/or gender of the student matched theirs and when it didn’t.
It is clear that there is substantial endophilia by nationality in the grading. A student who matches the grader’s nationality receives a score that is 0.17 standard deviations higher when her name is visible than when it is not. . . . This effect is also economically important: [I]t is equivalent to moving from the median score to the 57th percentile of the distribution of scores. Its magnitude is similar to that of the effect of large differences in teacher quality on students’ test scores that was found by Rivkin et al (2005).
While favoritism by nationality exists in grading, there is no apparent exophobia by nationality: The estimated impact of being visible when not matching by nationality is small and positive. The results of estimating the regression examining gender matching are shown in Column (2) of Table 3. Although the point estimate suggests the existence of endophilia, we cannot reject the hypothesis that it is zero. For non-matches there is exophilia, but here too the impact is statistically insignificant and also minute.
On average grading seems gender-neutral in all dimensions. . . . Neither male nor female graders exhibit significant endophilia or exophobia, and for both men and women the absolute impacts are tiny. Again, there is no sign of either statistically significant or important differences in behavior depending on the match or non-match of the grader’s and student’s gender.