The heritage of revolt
Without Thomas Paine there would have been no revolution in the Colonies, and it's possible we Americans would fly a British flag today. He was a rebel looking for a cause when he moved to the Colonies from England in 1774, just two years before the Declaration of Independence.
In those two years he was active fomenting dissent and hatred for Britain, writing the persuasive and bestselling pamphlets Common Sense and The American Crisis that swayed the opinion of Americans to favor revolution rather than withstand injustice. The Founding Fathers recognized Paine's importance, and John Adams stated, "Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain." Words possess more persuasive power than weapons, and Paine's pamphlets lit a fire in the Colonies.
His quest for independence arose from noble intentions rather than a thirst for war. Thomas Paine said, "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." With an eye for peace and a sense of responsibility to future generations, he devoted himself to the cause.
Drawing on the intent of Paine, the Founding Fathers, and others, I write today to unsettle you, to breed discontent. Bloggers and writers today bear the same master-slave relationship that so many people have labored under throughout the course of human evolution.
With our enlightenment and technology today, however, there is no reason for such slavery to persist. So, I call to writers, bloggers, and thinkers on the internet in the name Thomas Paine. Bloggers currently have no collective voice, no power in finance, and yet they run the internet.
In making my call, I put my reputation as a blogger and writer at risk, but revolt is a burden that, once felt, is hard to shed. My points here come from love and peace for present and future generations of bloggers across the world. I embrace Paine's vision:
The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.
Paine was skeptical of religious institutions, but claimed the world as his family and fought for justice.
I also draw power from contemporary sources such as the band Rage Against the Machine who, in resistance to governmental injustice and violence, scream of fighting manipulation and indoctrination in the song "Killing in the name of":
And now you do what they told ya, now you're under control ... Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me! Motherfucker! Uggh!
By this point you bloggers are wondering what the problem is, and that is where I am headed. I will point you toward the manipulation.
Exploitation of bloggers
Generally speaking, I propose resistance to injustice worldwide. If you read the blogs here at ZipMinis.com, then you are familiar with some of the causes important to me, and I suggest that as blogger's we speak out when we see the potential to alter injustice. This is resistance blogging, and it means that you take action by speaking out rather than passively receiving all the shit from the media and government.
Specifically, however, bloggers are daily exploited by the virtual monopolies that control the power to make money on the internet. Bloggers feed the internet with the best content available, but financially, we are left as carcasses along the road for vultures and magpies to pick at. If we by chance survive, we are left the crumbs of monopolies to scramble for and eat. We live and die by the whims of Google and massive monopolized advertisers including Amazon, ShareaSale, and Chitika.
Fuck Google AdSense, Amazon, ShareaSale, Chitika, and every other pay per click and affiliate scheme, that aims to ride the backs of the poor, working class bloggers. My friends, what they have done to bloggers is the equivalent of servitude. Their power lies in their massive corporations and advertisers who are unionized and protected at the expense of bloggers who risk everything. The wealthy take care of the wealthy, but the poor just work hard and keep quiet.
In defense of the status quo, there are a handful of bloggers who make a decent living, but not the majority. Agreed, not all bloggers are of equal merit, and perhaps many do not deserve to make it," but gaging the number of visitors to thousands of blogs, they must be of sufficient quality to attract the many people who visit the sites. Yet, unless you are an avid salesman or entrepreneur, money does not trickle down to the bloggers in the trenches. Desperate for a way of making life work, we plaster our websites with advertisers who pay little or nothing to have their brands promoted.
In the past (and still in some media), advertising space was real estate, and if advertisers wanted their brands exposed, they paid for it. Bloggers have lost control of their real estate space, and are exploited by the lure of pennies per ad. To give some perspective, advertisers can't say to a magazine: "I want to advertise with you, but I only want to pay if someone comes to me directly from your ad." The magazine owner would laugh. But this is the pay per click system, and other affiliate systems work similarly.
For another example, think of a billboard along the freeway. Advertisers can't go to the owners, saying: "I want to put up a billboard and advertise on your space, but I will only pay on sells that come directly from you." Such a set up would not work, but the internet makes it possible to exploit bloggers in this way. Advertisers should pay for the exposure and name recognition which they receive, whether the customers come or not. The advertising space used to be paid for regardless of revenue received from it, and bloggers should have the same advantage in an already difficult market.
Bloggers give away their precious and hard earned blog space to scammers who want name recognition without having to pay for it. Think about all those ads that people see, promoting the brand name, but the viewers do not click on the advertiser in that moment. The brand name is ingrained in the mind of the viewer, whether or not he or she clicks the ad. Advertisers are receiving benefit from our site traffic without having to pay for it. This is why affiliate advertising works for both Google and the advertisers: brand promotion without payment, for free. The payment comes out of the pocket of the bloggers.
This is the problem: We own blog real estate space with proven traffic numbers, but all advertisers have tricked us into becoming vehicles for their brand, freely sponsoring their brand on our space. Out of desperation we take their crumbs.
If you fucking corporations, who already make shit loads of money, want to use my website to promote your brand, you damn well better have your wallet open and be willing to pay for it. Bloggers should be earning by the week or month of leased space, not receiving random tips when someone happens to click on an ad.
And, there are conglomerate blogs that exploit independent bloggers with equal or greater depravity. Bloggers can write for these massive blogs, for free! The blogger receives name recognition, but nothing more. Examples include Huffington Post, who responded to criticism:
The Newspaper Guild says the Huffington Post is taking advantage of its unpaid bloggers. Huffpo says its bloggers are only too happy to write for free. What do the bloggers themselves say? With a few exceptions, we haven’t heard much from them.
Sure, they are only too happy to do the hard labor of writing for free, but this is because they have no choice. Does the Huffington Post actually believe that writers enjoy working for no pay? Many other conglomerates operate this way, some appeasing the bloggers by offering a share of the measly advertising money earned from the column. The Huffington Post, and others like it, value the writing they publish because without it, they could not operate. But, bloggers simply take the lumps of working for no pay because there is no alternative in the system.
The problem at hand is how to change the current situation, and Forbes responded to this, in part:
In your opinion, what do you think is the best way for bloggers to address the issue of compensation for digital labor? Answer options for that last question include “Bloggers should form a union,” “Bloggers should withhold their labor” and “Bloggers should launch a publicity campaign.”
These are some ideas that I will take up in the future, but for now I am just rumbling, spreading seeds of discontent. This is an important step for bloggers to take to make real change happen. I leave you with a quote from Henry David Thoreau, the American writer who has inspired so many great resistance leaders to make lasting change. Follow me in creating the friction he describes:
If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go; perchance it will wear smooth — certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.
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By Darin L. Hammond
Writer for ZipMinis and owns ZipMinis Freelance Writing. Darin Publishes across the web on sites like Technorati, BC Blog, Blog Critics, Broowaha, Demand Media Studios, and Social Media Today. Google