Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Re: Kickstarter being not awesome right now for their employees...

So, since starting our campaign, a lot of people are posting negative things about how they won't support our campaign because Kickstarter is making some bad press regarding their labor practices, right now. A friend suggested that we say something publicly about that, and I sort of don't feel like I want to step into the mess of a huge on-line discussion about this company's actions. It was advised to us that we do, and I can't really speak for Eric. I can only speak for me. Again, this is just my point, and I think Eric and I are going to work on what our official stance, together, as we build our company is. So, this is all me.

I think there's not a lot that Eric and I can do about the scandal, at this point. I also think that a lot of the people talking about this are doing it on Twitter, and have links to their Amazon accounts, and in some cases are partnering with Amazon Prime to make movies out of their books... So, Amazon and Twitter and Facebook's Union Stance is...? Also, here I am on Blogger with my Gmail account. and Google, to my knowledge, is not a pro-union place. I'm not interested in making a purity argument. I'm just trying to suggest that being pure is impossible in the arts, right now. We don't have an alternative to Amazon, and if they called me and said they wanted to make a film out of one of my books, I'd be really into that, even when I know their warehouse conditions are awful and they're an aspiring monopoly.

I get the desire to hold bad actors accountable, but hurting the many creators that have relied on these tools to build something positive for themselves and their communities, I think, does more harm than good. The place where we can actually hold them to account without harming each other in our creative endeavors is at the ballot box, by supporting politicians who will work to protect workers and communities against companies that are being dicks while also obeying the letter of the law.

Eric and I both work in education. He's a high school teacher; I tutor at a community college. We don't have the resources to be that selective in how we move forward building something new. We will be leaning on Amazon when we have a product to sell. We will be using Facebook and Twitter to help promote the books we make. These three companies are not ethically awesome. It sucks. But, they obey the law. And, it is not something we have the power to change, individually. It is why voting for better leadership is so important.

We did not know about the actions of the Kickstarter management team before we went down this path. It would have changed our decision-making, had we known, absolutely. Even under the hypothetically nonsense scenario that we agreed with their corporate leadership's decisions (we don't) why would we want to launch a campaign right in the middle of so much bad press?! The staff at Kickstarter have been awesome, particularly Margot Atwell. Without their guidance and advice, I don't think we would have been as clear about what we are doing, even with each other.

I do think the labor laws need to change in this country, and I support Elizabeth Warren's campaign, both financially and with my voice and vote. If a company is behaving badly, while obeying the law, the law needs to change. I'm happy to work towards that goal.

I am reminded of the time Night Shade was going down, and went into bankruptcy. A lot of people on-line were mad that authors had been treated badly, and decided to boycott or actively promote boycotting Night Shade titles. The company was going down no matter anyone's actions, at that point. These voices had no bearing on the outcome of Night Shade's fate. The people who were harmed by that boycott were the creditors and authors who were owed. Freelancers needed to get paid. Authors saw their sales suffer, which made it harder to move forward in our careers. I don't have the power to control Kickstarter. Or Twitter. Or Facebook. Or Amazon. We also don't have a viable alternative ecosystem in the arts, with tools that provide the same level of reach. 

I don't think Eric and I are particularly interested in getting into a debate about Kickstarter's labor practices, right now, nor are we interested in debating the merits of any major tech company's labor practices. We're just trying to use the tools that are available to us to build something bigger and more awesome. Someday, we hope to be able to build something better, but these are the tools that are available to us, today.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

KICKSTARTER: Vernacular Books is lifting off in 5... 4... 3...

Join us at the Kickstarter for more info, and please donate, donate, donate. Each donation is basically a pre-order.

The Future of Crime...
It used to be if someone wanted to mug you, they had to look you in the face and make a threat. Not anymore. Hackers can wipe a bank account without ever having to risk drawing blood. Bad people use technology for personal gain. Nothing's new about that. What is new is the ways technology opens up opportunities for exploitation.
New technology is coming on-line all the time, creating new opportunities for creative criminals and dissidents. Stolen elections, companies held hostage by hackers, and acts of terror have all been committed with technology that didn't exist a few short years ago. 
Join leading edge speculative fiction authors on an exciting walk into darkness where people and machines plunder, cheat, kill, and steal in ways we can't even imagine with tools that may not even exist, yet. But, they're coming. 
They're coming for us, and all we hold dear.