Archive for August, 2008

Idea: The True Fan Boost

Posted by Arlo on Aug 22, 2008 under Here's an Idea

The Long Tail
Six months or so ago, Kevin Kelly wrote about a concept he called “1000 True Fans.” The idea was fairly simple: Nowadays, an artist may be able to leverage the long tail of the Internet to earn a living wage with as little as 1000 fans. I recently read over the top twenty or thirty Google results for “1000 True Fans,” catching up on the discussion. Most were enthusiastic, some tempered, others critical.

I saw a lot of top-down approaches to the idea, where the burden was on the artist to leverage his or her own fans. I got to thinking: What about a bottom-up approach? How can we, the fans, lend a helping hand to the artists whose work we enjoy?

Maybe you’re like me; maybe you’re not a capital-T, capital-F, True Fan of any particular artist, but rather a regular fan of many. Maybe, also like me, you often feel guilty that you’re not supporting these artists as much as you could be. They provide all the stuff we really want for free: the web comics, the mp3s, the podcast videos. We know they’re trying to make ends meet with their T-shirt sales, CDs, and PayPal donation buttons, but we keep telling ourselves, “I really should buy that someday,” without ever spending the 3 minutes necessary to enter our credit card information.

I believe we could harness the power of web 2.0, trust linking, or whatever else you want to call it, to give a big financial boost to our favorite artists. At least one day a year, we set aside the time to make those well-intentioned, but forgotten purchases. I would call it Fan Appreciation Day, but that’s already in use (and has exactly the opposite meaning, at least in the sports world.) Therefore, I propose we call this the True Fan Boost.

Here’s how I envision it:

We designate a day where every fan is encouraged to buy at least one item from an artist (or artists) they appreciate.  Local, indie, or mainstream – doesn’t matter – any artist that’s appreciated. 

Each blogger that participates will write an entry on the designated date with the title “True Fan Boost 2008″ outlining which artists they’ve financially contributed to. Disclosure of dollar amounts is unnecessary, but links to the artists’ sites are encouraged.

The following day, searches for “True Fan Boost 2008″ will yield a wealth of new artists that the fans themselves have designated worthy of our hard-earned money. Trust linking takes over, and hopefully, many new artists will be given wider exposure.

And here’s the best part: Artists whose work we enjoy will hopefully notice a large uptick in sales on or around that date. Ideally it could become something they count on, year after year.

So, the question is… WHEN?

How about Labor Day? Yes, I know that that most people aren’t in front of their computers during work holidays, but that just means we’ll have a greater signal-to-noise ratio. (You need an excuse to flex your blog’s “post on date” muscles, anyway, right?) Furthermore, sales should stand out on a holiday and even the name “Labor Day” sort of fits.

So, what do you say? Think the idea has merit? Will you join me on Monday (or Tuesday, or Friday – the timing isn’t as critical as the payment) in distributing some of our hard earned wealth to people whose work we enjoy?  (Personally, I’m looking forward to dropping a couple hundred dollars on all the DVDs, CDs, T-Shirts, comics, and books I’ve been meaning to buy for months now. It’ll be like Christmas!)

If you’ve got a suggestion for improving the concept, I’d love to hear it. It goes without saying that this won’t be a success for any artist if I’m the only one that commits.  If you’re on board, consider helping spread the word.  Also, if you’re planning to make your own True Fan Boost 2008 blog entry, by all means, use the comments below to link to your blog – I’m happy to find more artists who deserve my money!  In the meantime, I’m going to write up and pre-post my own TFB’08 entry…

Catamaran Flare

Posted by Arlo on Aug 21, 2008 under Photography, Postcard Valet, Travel

Catamaran Flare

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We were in Key West to dive, but we hadn’t really planned how long we were going to stay.  Our first couple dives were okay, but nothing spectacular.  The water was a little murky, the coral a little sparse.  We paid a little more to go with a different company on the second day and were rewarded with friendlier staff, a better location, and more underwater sights.  We decided to stay for a third day of diving, even though it would mean getting up early on Oksana’s birthday.

While not as spectacular as the previous day, the dives were good (and, coincidentally, we discovered that another girl on our dive trip shared Oksana’s birthday!)  Still, Oksana likes to celebrate her birthday with parties and friend, and I was worried that diving wasn’t enough.  I decided to take her out on a sunset cruise.

Plenty of ships compete for your business in Key West; we walked the docks until we found one of the old schooners we’d heard about, the Hindu.  A sketchy but gregarious salesmen chatted us up and talked us into booking a couple tickets for the 6:30pm sailing.

The evening was gorgeous, the wind light.  While our captain and his college-students-on-summer-vacation crew lamented the lack of wind, Oksana and I relished the relaxed atmosphere on the bow.  Coolers of beer, flutes of champagne, and small panini sandwiches were available for the asking.  The only thing marring the serenity on the water was the loud southern woman who took the all-you-can-drink offer to heart.

As the sunset deepened, Oksana and I took turns walking the deck with the camera, taking photos of ourselves, the sun and sky, and the other sailing vessels tacking in and out of our wake.  Looking back over our pictures, I can tell you I took the one immediately proceeding this one (because Oksana’s in it), but I think she might have been the one who snapped this photo three minutes later.

And can I just say:  Best Lens Flare Ever!

Canon Digital Rebel XT
Date: 17 June 2008, 8:00pm
Focal Length: 88mm
Shutter: 1/500 second
Aperture: F/20
ISO: 100
Photoshop: Rotated & cropped (horizon-leveling),
 cloned out salt spray spots on lens, minor contrast adjustments

A New-To-Me Jeep

Posted by Arlo on Aug 7, 2008 under Life of Arlo, Travel

Obviously the Jeep is not in Florida at this point

This spring, when Oksana mentioned that she finally had things under control enough at work to consider a vacation, we sat down to decide where we could go. She could afford up to three weeks off, but that didn’t necessarily restrict us. With almost any country in the world as an option, we had to narrow it down from not only what we wanted to see, to what we wanted to do.

Oksana, for her part, was focused on diving. As far as she was concerned, we were going someplace sunny, warm, and underwater.

Me? I’d been thinking about buying a new car. My ’89 Jeep hasn’t been weathering the winters very well, and we can afford to trade up. I’m not in the market for a new new car; I can’t see spending that kind of money when I don’t even have a garage. Something a little younger than 20 years would be nice, though, and buying a used car from somewhere dry should minimize the risk of an getting rusty “Juneau body.”

I didn’t tell Oksana, at first, that I was considering shopping for a car while we were on vacation, because she would have pushed for buying it from her employer, Mendenhall Auto Center. That would have been fine, except the more I thought about it, the more I was starting to look forward to another road trip.

Combining these two goals limited our options somewhat.

We picked Florida. Not only could we buy a car and dive on a reef, we could also visit my grandparents!

As our departure date neared, our plan coalesced:

Step 1: Buy one-way tickets to Florida.
Step 2: Spend up to one week with my grandparents, shopping for a car.
Step 3: Put the car through its paces on a drive to Key West; spend up to a week diving the reefs.
Step 4: Drive across country either leisurely or like a bat-out-of-hell, depending on the time we had remaining. Barge the new car to Juneau from there.

It went… more or less according to plan.

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Australia: Diving the Great Barrier Reef

Posted by Arlo on Aug 1, 2008 under Postcard Valet, Travel

Note the heavy grain, the terrible exposure.  We're in disposible camera country now.

You know what they say about a picture’s worth, right? Well, sadly, we have hardly any decent photos to show from our diving trip on the Great Barrier Reef, so I compensated by writing about our experiences instead. Here comes about 9 pictures’ worth of memories.
I’m kicking myself for not renting a digital camera for our dives ($150 for 4 days.) We bought a few disposable cameras instead, and boy, what a disappointment! Whole rolls of film went inexplicably unexposed. Others were trashed either in the development process or by the camera’s winding mechanism, resulting in double or even triple exposures. Consequently, some of the best moments of our dives live on only in these words or, at best, in severely grainy ISO800.

These dives occurred in November 2007. It didn’t take me nine months to write all this; rather it took that long to psych myself up for the task. Don’t worry, Oksana and I resolved to buy a proper underwater camera before our next dive.Okay, where were we? Oh, yeah:

I shuffled up to the side of the boat and fixed my mask into place. Left hand securing my weight belt and dive gages, the right pressing my mask and regulator to my face. I inhaled deeply, took a giant stride forward, stepped out into space. Here comes the Great Barrier Reef.

Wait a minute, back up. Before I took the plunge into the Great Barrier Reef, I was stopped at the edge of the boat by tug on my back. One of the divemasters on board had a hold of my tank’s valve. “Who’s your dive buddy?” he asked. “Uh, my wife. Why?” “Because your air is almost all the way off,” he said while twisting the valve all the way open. “Better talk to her about that.” Oksana was already in the water; she didn’t hear the exchange. “Thanks. I’ll make sure to mention it.” We were packed pretty tightly at the rail, and the boat was rocking side-to-side in the swells. With the divemaster cranking away at my tank valve, I almost lost my balance. I took a clumsy, half-step back before I caught myself, but the underwater photographer was right behind me. The bottom edge of my tank must have bumped into the huge glass port of her camera enclosure. Behind me, I heard her say, “Shit! Shitshitshit!” When I turned to look, she was pushing her way through the crowd and rubbing the glass with her finger. I felt guilty, and tried to apologize, but she was already gone. Dive 1 – Norman Reef: Plate Top. 32min at 12m I turned to step into the water. After plunging in, I bobbed to the surface, switched to my snorkel, and put some air into my BCD. The water was surprisingly warm, only 1 or 2 degrees colder than the air, but the wind was whipping the surface into a froth. Once we dipped below the surface, however, everything was calm. Read the rest of this entry »