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Poker Blog established in 2003 as the first stop for poker news, poker stories, and bad poker advice.

May 9, 2005

Money and thieves

by Otis

Some conversations last forever.

For me, there are many, most of which are much too personal to me or the other party to ever divulge in the Wild, Wild West of the World Wide Web. But there are some. There was one with Iggy as we clung the Sherwood Forest Bar at 6am last December. There was one with my prospective employer a few weeks later. There were many with old college friends.

And then there was one with Gary when I was a young, idealistic, high school longhair.

See, we lived in a middle class subdivision in a middle class city, in a middle class state in the middle of America. Gary and I had been friends since kindergarten (and remain so today). My dad, a capitalist from a pretty poor family, had had a pretty good year and had a swimming pool put in. Gary and I were walking around it.

It was night time and we'd already had our day of swimming, staring at Jennifer P.'s body, and baking ourselves to relative crisps. Now it was night and we were talking like we always did. Gary was a pragmatist. I was a hopeless idealistic/anarchist wannabe. For more than a hour we walked in circles debating the merits of money. I was on the side of eliminating it completely and reinstituting some sort of barter system. Gary thought I was an idiot. Which I sort of was. Gary was smarter than I was, anyway.

By early college I had ammended my classless society ideas to removing the monetary system, abolishing the time system and banning watches/clocks, and allowing people to work at whatever time of day or night they liked.

I was an idiot in college, too.

With all that said, I guess there is no real reason I should expect you to listen to me now. After all, I haven't picked up any smarts since that time and have spent years dulling my senses with alcohol and sleeplessness.

But, I thought I'd climb out of the woodwork to comment on a recent spate of flaming, ill will, and, pardon me, but silliness.

On money

Everybody blogs for a different reason. Some do it as therapy. Some do it as art. Some do it for ego-aerobics. Some do it to make money.

As far as I'm concerned, I don't think there's anything wrong with any of the above.

Now, a younger, more idealistic Otis might protest, as some of you might. I mean, there is the argument that blogs should be treated as art and nothing but.

But, I disagree. Where blogs were a brave new art form several years ago, now they have--and I think rightly--evolved into potential journalistic, and hence, profitable ventures. Like the gulf between home movies and network television, blogs now have the elasticity to serve both masters, art and profit.

But, you may protest, a blogger who was doing it for the art who goes for the profit is just selling out.

That reminds me of another memorable conversation.

I was in college and Marty was bemoaning the Red Hot Chili Peppers having sold out. Why I felt the need to defend the band (why...I still don't know...suck my kiss, indeed), I did. And we got in the third...biggest argument of our now 13 year friendship. In retrospect, I guess the band did sell out and I was likely only arguing because felt like a poser for not knowing the band very well before they sold out.

Now, perhaps that doesn't have any real bearing here. Other than this: those are things that idealists fight about. Yeah, I'm still sort of sore that Uncle Tupelo broke up and now Wilco seems to have a better following than Son Volt, but I ain't gonna fault the guys who gave me a new reason to love music. The point is, I understand. If I were Jeff and Jay, I wouldn't have wanted to spend the rest of my life playing to drunk college kids at the Blue Note.

The same thing applies to blogs. I mean, can we begrudge Iggy and HDouble for busting their ass to write the Poker Tracker Guide and then using their blogs to pimp it? Can we bust Iggy's balls for giving us huge content and then, for once, asking for just a little help by way of affiliate links? For that matter, should we quit reading any blog that has an affiliate banner on it? And what about Pauly? Because his PokerStars affiliate deal is doing pretty well, should we not enjoy his cross-country antics? And what about the boys at LasVegasVegas? Those guys are running a virtual empire over there and helping fellow bloggers to get published in major venues.

And you know what the major thread running through all of those writers is? They all freakin' rock. They're smart, great poker players, great writers, and individualy have more business sense, ambition, and artistic creativity than a majority of the poker blogosphere (no offense to any of the good poker bloggers out there. I'm just trying to make a point here).

So, with all due respect (because I have respect for anyone who can keep a good blog running for more than a few months), let's wish success on all our fellow bloggers. We all may make missteps along the way. I've had a few myself that I'm none too proud of. We'll all figure it out. As I said to a notable blogger the other night, this little world is just as Darwinian as our everyday lives. I'd rather be on the surviving side.

And let's all keep pumping out the best stuff we can, becaue there is still an idealistic part of me that believes we've all stumbled on one of the greatest art venues out there.

Now, the thieves

With all of that said, theiving is just wrong. I know it's wrong because I've been a perpetrator. Recently, and quite unintentionally, I thieved something from some hardworking folks. When these folks pointed out my oversight, I nearly crashed my computer typing so fast in an attempt to make good. Because these folks are good folks, they understood my mistake and let me off the hook.

That was a mistake. What the banner farming, RSS-ripping yahoos are doing is not a mistake. It is thievery. Now, I don't mind so much if I'm ripped off. Most of what I write isn't going to make anybody any money anyway. Nevertheless, the ugly profit-motive behind it makes my spleen twitch (I would've said liver, but he and I aren't on speaking terms anymore and I don't know if he's twitching or not).

But, wait, Otis! You're contradicting yourself. I mean, how can you support the money-making bloggers but flame the banner farmers?

Well, I don't think I really need to explain this, but I will in case some Dakotan comes a calling.

There's a difference between making money off other people's art/thoughts and making money off your own art/thoughts. It's as simple as that. If you need further explanation, try this:

Every day, 24 hours a day, TV networks broadcast the result of their hard work and millions spent. It's out there for everybody to see and ingest. To watch it is not a crime. However, to copy it, start your own channel, then sell advertising using somebody else's content is wrong. It also happens to be a crime.

Now, in this wild, wild world, there is little anybody can do about it. However, there is a bit of karma to think about. That and the fact that you live in a Darwinian world. As far as I know, Darwinian theory still applies in South Dakota.


So, I typed all of this up and almost erased it. Frankly, I don't like to inject msyelf into controversies that aren't my own. At the same time, I look to the left and see the blogroll and realize that I would be pretty sad if ay of those blogs started drying up or started battling each other over petty stuff. I've met and planned to meet some damned good people who write those things. While never much one on long distance friendships, I actually consider a lot of you friends and I want to make more.

So...let's do this: Let's play poker like we know how (actually, I have noo idea how to play the game anymore). Let's keep writing about it. Let's go to Vegas and turn it upside down. There we can perfect our various arts and make some money in the process.

| Playing For Money