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Meme: paypal skzbrust $2-$5 - Zer Netmouse
July 7th, 2006
01:17 pm

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Meme: paypal skzbrust $2-$5
As some of you may know, I am a strong proponent of how it should be easy for people to give other people money (immediately or at a distance) without guilt involved, whether there are products or services provided for that money, or if it is just a sign of appreciation for some experience they've provided, either directly or through their art.

I would like to see a world where public art provides a routing mechanism through which people can financially support the artist directly, even in micropayments, and where books provide a similar mechanism for people to send money back to the publisher and author(s) - even if they are not buying the book new, but are merely borrowing it or have bought it used.

In the meantime we have paypal - when paypal first came around, we all had high hopes that it would be a good answer to person-to-person financial transactions, and for people who have personal paypal accounts tied to bank accounts, it does provide a way to exchange money at a distance without the fees and interest rate bother of credit cards (in fact, now Paypal pays me interest on the money I keep in my paypal account) or the requirement that one of the people in the transaction must be a business. But all the world didn't buy into this concept, and so paypal started accepting credit card payments as well, and the credit card companies charge fees, and therefore so does paypal, for upgraded accounts that accept credit card payments.

And there is also now a stigma associated with putting a paypal donation button on your website -- I don't know where this came from, but I was talking to a local political candidate about it and she said something about how taking paypal seemed somehow lower class, or something (that's really not what she said, but the gist of it was that paypal is a sort of shabby secondhand beggars tool, as opposed to high class donation tool). I refuse to accept that! I have encouraged any organization I support to accept paypal - I asked Planned Parenthood Online why on earth they do not and I got an email just recently saying they will soon. You don't have to qualify for a line of credit to use paypal, you just have to be able to open a bank account (I do suggest using something other than your primary bank account)-for those who have access to the internet, it is in fact more accessible to have a paypal account than a credit card.

So despite the fees for upgraded accounts, I support the idea that everyone should get a paypal account, and especially that everyone who is an artist -- sculptor, singer, author, etc., in our society should be both technically and philosophically prepared to accept funds this way. Because we ought to support our artists, and not just through Buying Stuff.

So the long and the short of this overly long statement is that I'd like people to help me convince at least one creative friend of mine to do this: the author Steven Brust. He's balking on principles that are admirable by the value system he grew up in, but which I think are outdated and wrong. His email address is skzb -@- dreamcafe.com (take out the spaces and the dashes to use as an email address). If you have a paypal account, please paypal skzbrust some small amount of money - but at least $2 - and see if we can't convince him to get a paypal account and get set up to accept donations.

(18 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:matt_arnold
Date:July 7th, 2006 06:20 pm (UTC)
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OK, I've ponied up.

I'd like to put you on a panel discussion about this at the next Penguicon. If you're interested, could you come up with a title and a blurb?

The age of artists supporting themselves by selling recordings and books was brief, and it is ending. He should read this article: http://www.locusmag.com/2006/Issues/07DoctorowCommentary.html
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From:netmouse
Date:July 7th, 2006 06:23 pm (UTC)
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Sure. the title could be "Evolving Into an Experience Economy". I'll work on a blurb.

Thanks!

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From:tammylc
Date:July 7th, 2006 06:26 pm (UTC)
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That's a great article - thanks for the link.
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From:mishamish
Date:July 7th, 2006 06:32 pm (UTC)
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Hmmm... on the one foot, I dunno how I feel about giving someone money just to convince them to take money from that particular direction in the future. On the other hoof, it's two bucks, and it could make a very good point, and it could also give me one of those "I was there" moments which used to be limited to things like presidential assassinations but, with the advent of the internet, seem to come around daily. I will consider.

It's interesting that you post this, though, because it was only a month or two back that I was discussing the same thing with TheFerrett. He was mentioning how StarCity Games was using PayPal for their online transactions and I sniggered until he stopped me cold by pointing out how it would be bloody stupid to have to re-invent the wheel (including wheel-oriented data security) *AND* pay $35+ a month to a CC processing firm when he could use PayPal for free. He made alot of sense and forced me to reconsider my own views of PayPal...

Meanwhile, Cheshire Grin has had a PayPal donation site up for a WHILE, but I've always accepted that I was a low call beggar. :-D
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From:freitagkitty
Date:July 7th, 2006 07:55 pm (UTC)

Money, money

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I'm curious, why do you think his values are outdated and wrong? What's your reasoning. I agree with the concept of paying artists directly and appreciating their work. I wouldn't be interested in a system where I paid twice to appreciate their work. I agree with helping friends out, but I would help by arranging financial advising, which works to solve the problem, not by giving money, which only delays the reoccurance of the problem. Teach a man to fish, etc...

I am also interested in this notion that paypal is so prevalent. I'm a pretty tech savvy gal and I've practically never heard of this (once in the news a few months back) and wouldn't care to get an account either. I have a bank account, why would anyone need another one? Eh, little lady? Truly interested. Hugs!
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From:netmouse
Date:July 7th, 2006 08:29 pm (UTC)

Re: Money, money

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ok, so, we're in different states, you're sitting there on your computer, you have a bank account, now send me some money - do it without going and getting a card, looking up a number, or mailing me anything physical.

Can't, can you?

I'm not a business. Even if you had a credit card number you had memorized, I can't take it from you and process it.

However, if you had a paypal account, you could do this. I can ask someone in another state to send me something, and I can pay him in advance, right now, in less than 30 seconds, and I can do it even though I'm sitting at a computer with my wallet out of reach. If I had it set up, I could do it using my cell phone. This is a huge part of how and why ebay got started and actually worked. Paypal provided person-to-person instant remote payment.

Paypal has been around for about a decade. If you truly only heard of it a few months ago I'm astounded. Probably you heard of it years ago but it since slipped your mind, but then again, maybe not, since you've never spent a really large portion of your time online.

And, btw, I'm not saying that it is so prevalent: in fact, I'm saying the opposite - that the fact that it isn't as prevalent as it should be is what has lead to the use fees that people hate - fees no more burdensome than the fees that businesses pay credit card companies, but which are more visible since they are part of the transaction or account cost. paypal transactions between people who have deposited money into their paypal account from a bank account and have kept a basic account to do so have no such fees.

Re: paying twice, what about if a friend loans you something, or you borrow it from the library? You've read it, and you don't want to buy it. Maybe you can't even afford the cover price of the books, if it's rare and hardcover. But you can still send something to the author or publisher if we have electronic payments.

In this electronic age, what if someone emailed you the book? Getting a copy might be as easy as that! Then how do you support the author?
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 8th, 2006 06:22 pm (UTC)

Re: Money, money

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OK. I have had a PayPal account for years. It's great and all that for sending money to anyone, for any reason. I don't have time for blogs or L_J (this is my first time) and don't know Brust's situation. He writes, and writes well. Is he not getting royalties? Are his works not being bought and paid for? If a grad student was not earning enough money to meet his expected lifestyle standards working at Home Depot, would a plea from everyone he helped, to send him donations help, or be accepted or be "right"?

OK, artists are special in that art is under appreciated, but so is programming (which can also be an art) and I don't see tons of "donate" buttons for them. It's true that there are plenty of "starving artists" out there and I support the Arts by buying their works. Soon, the Ann Arbor Art Fair will be rolling around. Should every vendor/artist there accept donations? More to the point, should I/we pony up for every artist we like but can't afford, just to help him/her make ends meet?

It sounds like he isn't getting a lot of royalties. Since he is fairly well read, I assume a lot of people have borrowed, bought used, been given or stolen his work to read it. Is this donation thing supposed to mitigate these situations?

Part of this rant is just Devil's Advocacy, but I'd really be interested in some of the answers.

Bob
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From:avt_tor
Date:July 7th, 2006 08:48 pm (UTC)
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Well I've seen some third-rate political web sites so I'm not so impressed by the politician's attitude, but it is fairly easy and not very expensive to set up a standard SSL-based transaction web site.

Paypal is very appropriate for non-profit organizations. For small web sites it's a good way to defray the cost of hosting, especially for sites that generate large volumes of traffic.

We support artists by buying their works. There is a cost-benefit involved in any kind of transaction. It may not be worth the guy's time to figure out the technical details and put small amounts of money in the bank.
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From:netmouse
Date:July 7th, 2006 08:56 pm (UTC)
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There is a cost-benefit involved in any kind of transaction. It may not be worth the guy's time to figure out the technical details and put small amounts of money in the bank.

Yes, exactly. That is part of the point of the meme: to hopefully generate enough seed capital to make it worth his time to create an account - after the start-up investment of time (there is not startup cost other than time, since he has volunteers who will help with the technical details, and creating an account is free) he will be prepared to accept further donations (if I have managed to influence him thus) with no further such burden.

I am keeping in mind that what to me are small amounts of money may be significant ammounts to Steven. He just commented on his LJ today that $400 was a lot of money in his world.
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From:avt_tor
Date:July 11th, 2006 04:00 pm (UTC)
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He just commented on his LJ today that $400 was a lot of money in his world.

Really? I was a big fan of this writer back in the '80s, I just haven't kept up. I'll buy some of his books next time I get to a bookstore.
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From:agingaglaea
Date:July 8th, 2006 12:43 am (UTC)
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For artists and cons, using paypal is an excellent idea. And I'm *not* particularly tech-savvy and I've been hearing about paypal for years. We've been using it for MythCon for some time now -- as you know, Anne, it's in a different place every year, the organizers need to set up accounts for the registrants where they can get the money immediately instead of it having to filter through the treasurer, so they can put deposits on facilities, etc. etc. As you wrote about last month, many of our best and most beloved fantasy/scifi writers are far from wealthy. And for the extremely huge amounts of joy they bring me, I would happily give them money through paypal! I have a theory that we pay for things we can't do -- whether that's fixing cars or computers or minds or broken toes or whatever. With authors, I am paying them for writing things I would never have thought of myself. Seems a fair trade to me.
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From:stardustgirl
Date:July 8th, 2006 01:19 am (UTC)
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I long resisted putting a donation button on my LJ and my website, but after much browbeating from a few friends, I did so. The winning argument was that it's similar to a musician busking on a street corner and leaving the guitar case open for spare money. If I ever do get any money that way (I've yet to) I have a friend I can send it to who does all electronic banking and who will just give me the cash (I don't have enough money to open a second bank account just for paypal).

It still feels very weird and somewhat uncomfortable to ask for donations. If the shoe were on another foot, I'd have no problem giving, but I feel (unrealistically, I know) that I should be able to do everything myself and foot the bill. I used to be able to pull that off, but can't at the moment. The $400 he mentioned receiving was mind-boggling for me. $400 is more than I make in a month right now.

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From:nubianamy
Date:July 8th, 2006 12:40 pm (UTC)
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Sure, why not. I like Brust's work very much. And I like PayPal.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 8th, 2006 07:57 pm (UTC)

Well?

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"I'm curious, why do you think his values are outdated and wrong? What's your reasoning."


And no answer to the question. A perfectly valid question.

I had hoped for an answer as well.

The info about PayPal, and your interpretations thereof, are fascinating. PayPal is a tangent. Far more interesting is the premise suggesting that your value judgment is somehow not wrong. Opinion is opinion; saying that YOUR values are "right" is yet another opinion.

An equally nebulous truth as my saying that a color is green when another sees it as blue. No matter how many people see green or blue, that is an intensely personal perception. Would you tell someone who is color-blind that his perception is wrong?
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From:netmouse
Date:July 10th, 2006 03:25 am (UTC)

Re: Well?

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Yes, it is a valid question. One I hope to get to soon. I have not stopped talking, just spent some time doing other things.

The whole color-blindness thing is a red herring argument. Perception and values are not the same thing. Perception is colored by values, but values are something we (hopefully) choose to hold. Values are often taught us through a process of socialization and therefor get adopted without examination. This is good in that a society with shared values is more likely to opperate smoothly. This has issues in that man as a social animal tends to confirm in ways that are not always logical or better for society in the long run. Regular examination of value systems and how they compliment current context is important, in my opinion.

Opinion is opinion, yes, and differences of opinion are important things. You have a right to hold your own opinion. You don't have any right to have your opinion be considered correct, or valid. If I disagree with you, I might consider your opinion (and/or values) to be "wrong." That you think you can bully me into backing off from the idea that I might be "right" about something just because my statement is an opinion (hell yes, it is an opinion) is both sad and ridiculous.
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From:netmouse
Date:July 10th, 2006 03:26 am (UTC)

Re: Well?

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er, that should be conform, not confirm.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 11th, 2006 08:29 pm (UTC)

Re: Well?

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Thank you for your reply.

Why is bullying only you then a bad idea? How peculiar. Bullying anyone is bad.

Much of this whole discussion brought up with SKZB looks like bullying. Which goes back to perception, and so may not necessarily be the case. Everyone sees things differently.
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From:netmouse
Date:July 11th, 2006 10:31 pm (UTC)

Re: Well?

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Why is bullying only you then a bad idea? How peculiar. Bullying anyone is bad.

I never said that. People who argue with you about assertions you never made and wouldn't make and don't even believe are annoying. Not Bullying, just tiresome, as they don't follow any standards of logical conversation.

Sorry if the tone of my posts seems bullying. If my comments are high energy it's because I believe in these things fervently. I believe I mentioned my strong beliefs on the subject in the beginning.
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