I don’t want to completely turn the site into a discussion of the micropatronage initiative (more info) for the next three weeks, but I will be talking about it somewhat. For one thing, contributors have been asking for an update on how it’s going. Also, I’ve been planning this since May of last year but haven’t talked about it much on the site, so I’ve got a few pent-up posts to get out there.
Day one of the “fund drive” (I hate that term for it, more on vocabulary below) went pretty well. In the rough chart I conjured in my head last night, the revenue line and the “I don’t need to sell my blood plasma” line are converging nicely and I’m hopeful that my goal will be achieved within the three week period. You’ll hear this so many times on the site in the next few weeks that you’re going to get tired of it, but a sincere thank you to everyone who has contributed so far. I’m not going to be able to respond individually to each one, but I’ve read all your emails and PayPal notes and I appreciate you taking the time to write.
And now, the vocabulary part of the post you’ve all been waiting for! The term I’ve most commonly heard associated with all this is “donation”; that people are donating to a cause. When I was writing yesterday’s announcement post and the supporting materials, I had to make a choice in how I described this to you…otherwise that post would have been at least twice as long as it was. In the end, I opted to explain it in terms of patronage…using words like “support” and “contribute”. I specifically did not use the word “donation” because there’s a connotation there of someone giving something and receiving nothing tangible in return (and somehow, there’s less of that connotation with “contribution”, although maybe that’s just me). Patrons don’t donate in the sense that people donate to the Red Cross…they typically get something directly in return (e.g. a piece of art) for their patronage.
Another way to look at the money that people are giving me is that it’s like a subscription fee for a daily magazine. There’s a transaction here; you’re paying me in return for a (hopefully) interesting, engaging, timely site that’s full of information and creative projects and updated on a daily basis. So while I think the micropatronage idea fits the best with what I’m doing, there are also elements of the subscription idea in there as well. It’s hard to tell you exactly what I mean (either English is failing me here or I’m failing English), but I hope you get the gist of it.
As far as the rest of the site goes, I’m planning on updating as regularly as I can for the next three weeks. I may be a little slow here and there because of the “fund drive” overhead (the amount of email in and out of my mail client over the past week is staggering)…which is one of the reasons I wanted to limit this to three weeks. You don’t have to deal with me bugging you all year about it and I only need to focus on these administrative duties for a short time and can spend the rest of the year doing more creative things for the site.
Last thing…a couple of press mentions of this little experiment: