Thursday, May 24, 2007

Money is Not Always the Root of All Evil

I have been mulling over SteveG's post on the relationship between Blogads (Money) and Blog Authenticity, Message, and Commodification. I am bewildered by Steve's rejection of Blogads as a source of revenue (although, for me a paltry, paltry source) and wanted to spend a day or so thinking about why. I mean, it is odd sometimes how completely differently two people, who agree on a lot of other things, can see something like this.

My first reaction to Steve's post was: geez, he is really turning this into a full blown moral issue! I was surprised that this issue took him to thinking about corrupt columnists, commodification of culture, bloated bureaucracies of liberal causes, and undermining ones' hobby as blogger. So I analyzed why I was so taken aback by this sort of analysis. What I realized is that the level of concern that Steve seems to have with the practice seems so mismatched with the reality of the Blogads service. But, this is from my perspective, a blogger who is dropping in the Ecosystem lately and doesn't get offered to run ads much.

I chose to put up a donation button (which I am sure no one has used) and put Blogads up (thanks to Lindsay!) because I wanted to see if/how one can actually earn income from blogging. Plain and simple. I just don't see what is wrong with this? In fact, I don't see the difference between trying to get paid for the writing and community building that goes on here and getting paid for being a College Professor or getting a contract from a mainstream publisher to write a book or getting paid by a magazine for an article, etc.

I have always thought that best way to pursue a profession is to try and get paid for what you would do as a hobby; the whole point of this is precisely to avoid selling your soul for material gains that will create greater security for your family.

I think the distinction that Steve makes between blogging as a hobby and blogging with Blogads is a false dichotomy. Why can't one get paid for one's hobby? I don't get it? To my mind, and I am probably far more pro-Capitalist than Steve is, this is the very best of the American entrepreneurial spirit. I don't have the moral guilt around getting paid that Steve does. If people want to pay me for what I love to do, what's the problem?

Steve however ties this to a problem of influence of commodification, so, again, I have to ask what is the difference between putting up Blogads and getting paid for a book you put out or getting an advance on a contract with a publisher? Do those acts sully the content and worth of your ideas? Can' t we draw more sophisticated lines between being bribed and hemmed in by advertisers to adjust your content and picking or choosing to run certain blogads on your site (the latter point is salient--one gets to accept or reject and ad)?

So, I open this up to the readers here (although many of them have probably debated this at Philosopher's Playground). I guess I am not a good liberal in the old school way because I am not averse to wanting to make money for my work. But, perhaps I am being politically incorrect?