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Rant #1b

I don't know if I'm going to start writing "rants" like other webcartoonists now, but I felt something I said on Cartoonist's Day this year needed some expounding. Therefore...

Don't Give Kevin Pease Money.

Is that what I meant when I said:

"You don't need to donate money. You shouldn't, in fact. That's not a sustainable model."

Berkeley has an extremely large homeless population. When I arrived in this pee-soaked cesspool of a city eleven years ago, I gave a guy a dollar because he asked for it. Today, I sneer and mumble "Sorry" to five beggars a block who think shoving a putid sock puppet in my face when I'm on my way to buy another crate of blue hair dye is worth a quarter.

This is not an exaggeration. There are five beggars a block in this city. They all have sock puppets. We've got good social services here or something. I don't like people to talk to me on the street. I would pay money to see them go away. I thought I was. But every goddamned treehugger that finds pity nobler than guilt, who donates a quarter to the worst random reinforcement psychology experiment in the country, is making my quality of life worse by sustaining an economy of begging.

I'll be damned if I'm going to be one of them.

Begging on the internet is new right now. It's working. Some webcartoonists are making thousands of dollars by begging, which just about pays their bandwidth bills. Great. But is it sustainable?


As Kevin pointed out, the public television market is sustainable. I've never seen an advertisement on "Mobil Oil presents Masterpiece Theater," for instance. And a beggars economy allows us to not compromise our artistic integrity by bowing before the influence of mass appeal or consumer interests. I learned that walking through the "KQED Store of Knowledge." And a beggars economy can be sustained without annoying readers. PBS' infrequent pledge drives have proven that to me time and time and time and time again. It's also nice that the beggars economy has proven sustainable enough that PBS is able to afford scores of really expensive quality programs in addition to cheap BBC reruns.

Begging on the internet it new and it's working, just as it does in the streets, as it did when I first got to Berkeley. It is probably sustainable. It certainly is on the streets. And I'll have no part of it.

To be fair, a lot of what Kevin said is spot on. However, it's based on the assumption that Keenspot is blindly relying on the return of the old banner ad economy, which never should have worked in the first place. It was stupid and illogical, but so far, logic has not been the guiding force of the internet. The battle to impose logical business practices on the internet is an uphill battle, but I'm willing to work towards it. Soon Keenspot will be introducing new methods of revenue generation, such as an ad-free subscription model. We will rely on time-tested methods of running a business, not a charity. It takes us a while, though, because we don't have millions in venture capital, and one man can only program so quickly.

Should you give Kevin money? Go for it. Give the other 50 webcomics you read money, too. Do it every month. Sustain the economy. I'm sure you all have infinite pockets.

I don't actually have anything against webcartoonists begging for money, in particular those like Kevin who already have an ad-free site. Since your funds are limited, my refusal to beg means more money you can give to Kevin, or Pete, or Tycho, or Scott.

However, I would much rather see webcomics make it legit. And I'm going to spend every ounce of strength on that vision. It'll go faster with your support, but I'll keep working even if I'm the only one who believes in it.

If that frightens anyone, go watch PBS.