Because science into life doesn't go

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Where Art meets Commerce

or, second-rate idea does well in world gone mad.

I was checking the news the other day, when I came across this story:

The Million-Dollar Student

To summarise, Alex Tew, a 21 year-old about to start university, has earnt over a million dollars in five months selling the million pixels of his homepage for a dollar each.

After the pangs of envy died down, after wistfully comparing the fruits of my labours in bed next to this young entrepreneur's, after getting a headache checking out the page in question, I started to think about how this could've happened and what it means to the world today.

To give credit where credit's due, it was a brilliant idea in its way. A riff on the age-old dream of making a quick-buck so that you no-longer have to go through the day-to-day drudgery of working for a living. Who wouldn't want a million pounds? Even if you'd become enlightened and were no longer concerned with material matters, you'd still like the money to help spread whatever message you thought worthy. No? And the beauty of the idea was that everyone's desire to find-out how someone can make a million bucks so quickly became the engine which drove its success. A kind of paradox for our times.

But. What has actually been achieved here? Some wealth has been redistributed from hundreds of companies and individuals into Alex's hands. Have these groups profited from the exchange? That's debatable. If you look at the page you might notice a few names, but most won't even be noticed. Perhaps with enough hits, statistics comes into play and every logo will get some attention. Really, apart from Alex and a few companies, aside from the little pleasure that comes from seeing somebody strike-it-rich, nobody else has gained.

The next time another millionaire is made, I'd like to read about how his or her million has made us all richer.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Nearly two months since my last post; seems a reasonable time to update the world on my life....

My New Year Resolutions from last year have been scrubbed down and are going to make another appearance--only slightly changed from their previous incarnation.

First off, last years resolution to learn Hungarian will become learn Hungarian more; despite being in probably the best place in the world to pick-up the language, my progress has been on the glacial movement level. I'm sure French and German--which I learnt at school--were far easier. My present ability means I can catch about one out of three words in a typical conversation, but actually turning those words into a coherent whole is remaining far out of my mental reach. For example, I hear 'Always hsdgjgs with me hjdssh tomorrow sdjjhsd you want'. The potential possible meanings this incomplete sentence brings means I usually stand like a guppy-fish for a good ten-seconds before attempting any kind of reply.

Second resolution is to get my travel experiences from 2003 online (last years similar one was to begin a web presence which is exactly what this is). The photos have been scanned, cropped, rotated, and false-coloured (where appropriate) and are now ready to accompany the scintillating written adventures. Late January the site will go live. Watch this space--technically another space, but that's not so snappy.

Third and final resolution is to get something published. Last years equivalent was to submit at least one story to one publication which I duly did and got rejected. Followed by more rejections of several different pieces by several different venues. I'm going through the poor-nobody-understand-me phase at the present time...So this year the resolution is to be published...I've got my eye on some really obscure (and I mean really obscure--Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine doesn't come close) mags so it should be achievable. Recent good news on the writing front includes my Quarter Final placing in L. Ron Hubbard's Writer's of the Future Contest for a time-travel story (although call me old-fashioned and way behind the times, but I always had the impression reaching the quarter finals meant you got to the last eight--in the WOTF quarter finals means something like in the top eighty stories. Still some way to go!). Also I'm going to Clarion 2006 which means six weeks locked in a student dorm with other crazy-wannabee, I mean, aspiring, writers in deepest Michigan, USA. I can't wait. Really.

I'll finish off now so that I have something else to say before March...