Friday, November 30, 2007

The not-so Big Scary Idea

In the midst of writing a post on setting and worldbuilding, I was distracted by The Big Scary Idea and The Big Scary Idea Business Plan (originally pointed out at Torque Control).

On the surface it sounds like a wonderful Utopian ideal for genre. One gigantic site to Rule Them All. Massive advertising dollars funneled into the pockets of (and stop me if I'm wrong, here!) pretty much everyone, from contributors to "associates". Huge quantities of user-generated content. Community. Web 2.0!

(A quick aside - Personally, I like the idea of Blues 2.0 better:

End aside.)

Ahem. Yes. So, glorious vision and all that.

I just don't think it would work.

What I think they're attempting with this Big Scary Idea is a consolidation of interests, drawing upon several streams of 'fandom' (if you will) and offering a single all-inclusive outlet for creative types working within the speculative fiction genre. It would be the SpecLit uber-zine, so to speak.

I don't think anyone wants that.

Lovers of speculation tend to gravitate and clump to their very specific niches, without crossover. People who love Star Wars go to the Official Website. People who love speculative artwork are welcome to browse and participate on, for instance, and CG Society and the Sijun forums, while deviantART offers not only a showcase to artists and photographers, but also the ability to earn income from prints. Meanwhile... we already know how READERS gravitate to various online venues.

(One flaw in the Big Scary Idea is it's failure to include or even consider the wider gaming and comic industries, whether that gaming is console- or paper-based. To me, this seems the greatest area for a speculative creator to explore in growing his/her audience. More on that another time.)

So what the Big Scary Idea must do is to entice already-entrenched users from their current homes.

Their form of enticement? REVENUE!

While I'm not very conversant with the details of Web 2.0 and it's varied ephemera, I'm intimately familiar with the dream of Earning Income Through Advertising. Every blogger, I think, eventually stumbles into stories of their compatriots earning god-awful sums of ad revenue through their ever-so-popular blogs and dreams of duplicating such a feat. I know that's why I have Google Ads running on my blog.

Of course, I've only earned $0.04 to date on AdSense. But I'm not griping.

Rather, let's consider the unholy nightmare of attempting to quantify who-earns-what by ad click-through, one of the Big Scary Idea's primary forms of revenue to the content contributor.

If a content provider had 1% of total views over the course of a month, BSI’s ad revenues were $1M, and the % redistributed was 70%, the content provider would earn $7K that month.

That sounds really, really good, doesn't it? Bearing in mind that if the BSI is receiving 1 million page views per month, and 1% of those page views means 10,000, that's quite a hefty return on 10K views of a short story.

But is it even remotely realistic? I somehow doubt it.

Web economics is far from my strong point, but to me this accounting model proposed in the Big Scary Idea just doesn't add up.

Still, from a user's perspective, I don't see anything that I can't conceivably already do on my own. I could, in theory, become my own cottage industry on the internet without the help of a site like the Big Scary Idea. I can keep writing this blog, and continue building an audience until it's possible to include more advertising. If I get a wild hair up my rear and decide to create a work of art, I can set up a deviantART account and sell prints there... and further broaden my audience base by interacting with that community. I can create merchandise and sell it through CafePress. If I create a short film, I can post it on any one of a dozen video-sharing sites, again growing my audience.

And I could do it all without having to worry about dealing with income based on user ratings.

1 comment:

S.M.D. said...

I saw this too and am going to blog about it eventually. It sounds like a great idea, but as you said, it probably won't work. I'd love to think it would though. It would be awesome to get paid for content on a site like that. If anything they can salvage the aspects of it that will work to make something cohesive. I think they are also hoping for a lot to happen too soon. All that they're asking wouldn't happen in the first year of the project, not by a long shot.