About Me

I'm just someone struggling against my own inertia to be creative. My current favorite book is "Oh the places you'll go" by Dr. Seuss

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How to deal with the newspaper crisis

What about a journalism "auction" site? Journalists would have accounts at the site, and post briefs on a topic of investigation. Say, a 2 or 3 paragraph abstract.

Based on this, the general public is then able to contribute: in essence, throw a pledge into a hat until a given threshold of funding is reached. This money is taken from a paypal account or a credit card until that threshold is reached by a certain date. If it is not reached, the money is returned to the users account. (or perhaps the site itself could hold virtual credits). The idea here is to collectively fund the investigation, so that no single sponsor has to bear the full cost.

Pros: Places journalists in a closer relationship with their audience. Rather than a publishing company brokering the funding between audience and advertisers and journalists, it would essentially run on a social networking or web2.0 type of model funded directly by the audience. This funding is then used for investigation and reporting of that abstract. (with allowances for the investigation leading to new interesting areas at the journalist's and editor's best judgement.)

Rather than expecting users to pay directly for content which already exists, it's giving the audience personal ownership, by allowing them select and fund the creation of new content.

Cons: The tendency for the general public to vote for baser and less enlightening stories may present a problem. Perhaps this could be mitigated by some kind of "tax" on general articles which could be directed towards articles selected by a qualified editor. That way, editors could in essence overrule the public on some portion of funding for articles to get important and educational things through- while at the same time, the general public can in essence overrule an overidealogical editor for funding on other articles, thus providing some checks or balances.

Feel free to improve expand, or implement this idea in any way you choose. I, the author hereby release this blogpost, unconditionally, into the public domain.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The emotional growth of characters

Alan Moore about Watchmen:

"Watchmen" is widely regarded to have brought an aura of realism to comics.

I think that more often it's a more supposed physical realism rather than any kind of emotional realism. Yes, books like "Watchmen" did make it fashionable to show grimly the consequences of violence, which I suppose initially was a good thing because it's better that people know that violence results in terrible injury and pain and suffering than that they think that it's just something that, you know, people get a sock on the jaw and they are unconscious for a couple minutes and then they come around and they are taken off to the police station.

But I think that when you are talking realism in comics you have to realize it's an ongoing process, especially emotional realism. That when the comic book industry started you had characters who were, let us say, one-dimensional in that they only had one quality. They were good or that they were bad. By the 1960s Stan Lee with Marvel Comics had the brilliant idea of two-dimensional characterization where they are still good or bad but now they have some kind of, perhaps a medical complaint or some sort of emotional suffering. What we were trying to do with "Watchmen" was to make it at least three-dimensional. So that the characters that we were talking about were complex human beings that weren't defined by one simple set of behavior patterns. With some things like Todd McFarlane's "Spawn" or a lot of these modern comics, they will show greater violence because they know that actually that is what a lot of the audience wants, for prurient reasons, not trying to show the emotional depth and complexity of the characters.

It's occured to me that many of the characters I've seen in various fiction are incapable of growth or change. A character is concieved as a brand with a certain set of unchangable characteristics that can be exploited by the narrative again and again and again. Consider the simpsons, and their world which resets at the end of each episode to exactly the way it was at the start. None of the characters get older, nor do they actualy learn anything from their adventures that modifies their future behavior, or makes them quantifiably better people.

How would a fictional character look, if it was capable of growing and learning? What if in the process of that growth, they abandoned the main attribute that made them recognizable as that character, and that change persisted to future stories? Is emotional growth the third dimension Alan Moore speaks of?