Kottke Introduces Micropatronage
This news has torn around the web since he announced it this morning, but Jason Kottke has quit his job and is attempting to blog for the year, while relying on donations from his readers:
I'm attempting to revisit the idea of arts patronage in the context of the internet. Patrons of the arts have typically been wealthy individuals, well-heeled foundations, or corporations. As we've seen in many contexts, the net allows individuals from geographically dispersed locations to aggregate themselves for any number of reasons. So, when you've got a group of people who are interested in a particular artist, writer, etc., they should be able to mobilize over the internet and support that person directly instead of waiting around for the MacArthur Foundation or Cosimo de Medici to do it.Jason describes this group of people that are willing to support a particular artist / writer / blogger (him) as "micropatrons".
Anyways, Geneve and I had a good conversation about this at the dinner table. What effect will quitting the day job have on the quality of content on Kottke's site? Is the limited amount of time that he previously had for blogging what kept the content quality high, forcing him to post only the most well-reasoned or insightful ideas? Will there be more noise on Kottke.org, now that he has more time to ponder the lint in his bellybutton? Or will content quality rise in proportion to his time?
You gotta give him credit--he's asking for money, and basically promising more of the same. It's a hell of an experiment, and I'd love to see him pull it off (mostly out of self interest--I appreciate his writing style, sensibilities, and interests.)
So, I sent him some cash. I have looked forward to reading new content on Kottke.org since I first found it several years ago, looking for a way to unshrink a wool sweater.
Also, it's probably worth reading his post on the subject. Why? Because the notion of micropatrons is a shift in the way people think about paying for content online (even though it's a twist on an old concept), and it will be interesting to see how, or if, the model develops. My guess is that it will be extremely limited in its reach. Asking for money from readers is much more difficult to justify (and pull off) than installing AdSense is.
So, give it a read, if only to admire a guy who's taking a big risk to go after something he wants.