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Sunday, March 21, 2004

Beggars or Buskers?

busk (bubreve.gifsk)

intr.v., busked, busk·ing, busks.

To play music or perform entertainment in a public place, usually while soliciting money. *

beg (bebreve.gifg)

1. To solicit alms.
2. To make a humble or urgent plea. *

If you think about it, the only real difference between these two definitions is the offer of some sort of entertainment value in return for the moolah. Hmmmmm.

I've been noticing lately that battle lines are beginning to be drawn along what should be a relatively innocuous issue. I’m referring to the growing practice of placing a ‘donation’ button on one’s journal, blog or web site.

Those who are against the practice have coined some catchy names for it…my all-time favorite being ‘Welfare Journaling’, brought to you by the landlord over at Dysfunction Junction. If you want to read her very well-considered thoughts on the subject, go here.

I’m personally torn over the issue - not because I’m considering passing the cyber-hat, but rather because I don’t know exactly how to feel about it. You see, quite a few of my favorite haunts on the web have already chosen sides…some by placing those snappy little ‘No Welfare Journaling’ logos…and others by placing a donation button. I should state for the record that I have never, and will never, ask you to support my web habit…but it doesn’t necessarily mean I think it is wrong.

To my way of thinking, the decision to keep up a web site, because it is a potentially expensive choice, should be made after a careful review of one’s finances. If you find that you’re eating a lot of government cheese, and buying your beer and cigarettes with W.I.C. checks, you probably want to rethink the whole high-speed Internet access and domain hosting thing.

On the other hand, there is a lot of web content out there that people willingly pay for, so who can blame a popular blogger or journaler for putting out the tip jar to help defray costs? If my wife can pay for the New York Times Premium service so she can have the privilege of downloading the daily crossword puzzle, what could be so bad about my occasionally dropping a couple of bucks on a site that has become a familiar part of my morning routine, right?

Some people equate donation / welfare journaling with panhandling. I’m not sure I agree with that. If I were a good baker, and people were constantly telling me how much they enjoyed my cookies, and asking for recipes…I might entertain the idea of opening a bake shop. If I had a knack for fixing computers, and friends & family were always hitting me up for help, I might consider opening a help desk / tech support business.

Journalers…especially popular journalers (so I hear)…are also providing a service of sorts. Maybe not as essential as a computer repairman…but certainly as necessary as that morning croissant!

I may change my mind tomorrow, but for now I’m not ready to equate that donation button with an aggressive wino trying to extort pocket change by artfully rearranging my windshield grime with a dirty squeegee. Rather, I see it as more of an open guitar case in front of a good street musician...or a tattered fedora in front of a poet on a subway platform.

I used to enjoy a lot of talented buskers (street performers) on my way to and from my Manhattan office. That doesn’t mean I always threw money into their case or hat…but the really talented ones – and perhaps some of the familiar ones – often got the change left over from my morning cappuccino. How different is that from the folks I pass on the way through my morning on-line routine?

I’m not trying to influence anyone here…I’m just thinking out loud.

Feel free to weigh in on the issue. I'm genuinely interested in hearing a broader range of opinions on the topic.

* source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2003

Posted by David Bogner on March 21, 2004 | Permalink


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I tend to think that a debate is fruitless. If people can make money by blogging they will. I'm not sure I see a lot of revenue potential there, however. Part of me hopes that blogging never becomes profitable, because the "free" nature of it is what makes it--in a way--pure. And this is coming from a died-in-the-wool capitalist. Protesting blog-profits is not going to stop the marching feet of entrepreneurism. There are some blogs that deserve money. I would rather see them paste a few ads than ask me for my money, however. I prefer to read my favorite blogs guilt-free. :)

Posted by: Jim | Mar 23, 2004 5:09:07 AM

Ah, there it is...the point I missed!

On the days when I walk past those street buskers and din't give change...I did feel that little pang of guilt. But that is my issue, not theirs.

However, I don't think anyone busks (or blogs) with the expectation of getting rich.

And, as far as adding ads goes...talk about taking the blush off the rose!

Posted by: David | Mar 26, 2004 10:09:56 AM

Thanx! It really helps me with my assignment. Thankxs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :))

I gonna have a debating competition tomorrow. PRAY FOR ME, won't you? Thanks!!!!!

Posted by: Rizky WIrastomo | Jul 26, 2006 4:29:22 PM

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