The Sponsored Post Brigade

I’m not sure what’s going on with this blog, and my verified Facebook page, but over the last few months, I’ve been getting lots of requests — more than usual — to add paid links in my old articles as well as being offered “thousands of dollars” to post advertising on my Facebook page.

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Did Skechers BOBS Steal from TOMS?

We have been discussing the many facets of creative inspiration versus creative theft and outright theft. My wife and I recently found ourselves face to face with what seemed to us like blatant thievery and I had to bring it to your attention so that you don’t buy the stolen ideas over the original one.

We were walking down Broadway toward Whole Foods to get some nourishing food for our little man when I happened to notice a display of shoes in a shoe store window. I am a fan of vegan accessories including shoes although I try to live as frugally as I can to put aside money for Chaim’s university funding. I was excited because I recognized the shoes from a distance — they were TOMS shoes, a brilliant vegan brand that not only makes simple yet attractive shoes but donates a pair of shoes to a child in need of a pair of shoes. (This is usually in a third world country.)

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Elvis Costello Does Not Want You to Buy His Album

Generally speaking, when a musician puts in dozens of hours of work into writing, practicing, and then laying down the tracks on a new album, they want to do what they can to help push album sales — if they intend to make money as a musician, one good way is to make salable albums. If they promote their albums in their own way, it helps ensure their future as a professional full time musician.

Sometimes, however, the musician gets the feeling that their record label is going too far in reaching into the pockets of their fans, and when this happens, the musician hits a crossroad. Do they just go along with the label and pretend that they do not notice that their label is stabbing their fans in the back, hitting them where it hurts because they know that they will pay anything to get art associated with their favorite artists?

This is not the route that Elvis Costello chose to take. Even though it would seem to be in Costello’s best interest to recommend buying his new release, a box set including a book, he tells fans that buying the set would not be advisable.

Costello acknowledged that it was a “beautifully designed compendium.” However, writing on his website, he told fans: “There was a time when the release of a new title by your favourite record artist was a cause for excitement and rejoicing but sadly no more.

“Unfortunately, we at find ourselves unable to recommend this lovely item to you as the price appears to be either a misprint or a satire.”

Instead of buying the release as is, he suggests they wait awhile and buy the components of the set when they go on sale separately. That way it is more affordable to the average fan.

There are two ways to look at this. From the perspective of the label, it would seem that this is quite a betrayal from Costello. On the other hand, the label surely realizes that there are plenty of fans that are enthusiastic enough about the music of Elvis Costello that even telling them not to buy it will not make a difference. This is especially the case since only one thousand five hundred copies of this special box set were produced.

From the perspective of the average fan, on the other hand, it would seem like Costello is standing up for their rights as fans not to get ripped off to get access to his music. Of course, as a musician that is signed to the label, the real question is whether Costello has the right to tell his fans to do something that would be actively defying the label that, in a way, employs him?

The New York Times Loses Control of their Content with a Paywall

Yesterday, I received this email notice from the New York Times that they would, once again, begin charging me for reading their content.

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Is It Spam or an Interesting Comment?

Spam is getting sneakier by the day!  If you run a blog — and if you care about publishing only cogent comments — you probably already know precisely the problem I am addressing today.

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The End of Blogging

We all knew this day would come:  The everyday Blogger is dead; and we are the haunted, but rectifying, ghosts of what used to be and what has never been.  Our deaths begin and end with the elevation of Twitter where everyone suddenly became a publisher — but never a writer — and great thoughts and complex ideas were forever compounded down into 140 character streams of neverending drivel.

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Dumping the Dutiful

The Cushing Academy near Boston removed all the books from their library last year in an intentional purge against intellectualism designed to streamline campus thinking.  Cushing replace paper with electronic books and online resources and we cannot but help but wonder what was lost in the pulp dust.

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