Monday, July 16, 2007

We're really not on Summer hiatus

It just looks that way.

The gather gig is almost over, which I'm just as happy about. On the plus side, it was nice to see I could still write to a deadline, if needed. I turned out a couple of good pieces, and a few "paying the bills" pieces too, given that gather never paid more than ceegar and poker money.

On the negative side... well. Too many negatives to list. In any case, as contract renewal came closer, I dithered back-and-forth, to-and-fro about whether to call it quits after six months. The extra cash was nice, giving me the chance to splurge on book/CD/ceegar/poker indulgences without guilt (Peggy laughs in my head at this point, asking when I don't splurge on indulgences), but I came to really dislike the site and the way it was run. gather is nakedly a site where the content seems only to be there to support the advertising, rather than advertising being used to subsidize the content. And while I'm used to corporate spin, inflation, prevarication, and dissembling, gather took it to such heights that by the end I was reminded of the old joke about how to tell if a politician is lying.

It also concerned me that my wife - who as a rule expresses no opinion about anything that I'm up to - had formed an extreme dislike for gather and stated several times that I should bail the moment my contract expired. I was also feeling guilt about devaluing my writing. gather was getting some pretty good content very cheaply, and that wasn't sitting well with me.

In the end I compromised, and sent off an email to the gather manager nominally in charge of the correspondents' program requesting a pay rate more in line with industry standards for any future work. It was so unlikely that gather would accept the terms that I felt I had in effect resigned. And, on the off chance that they bit, well, I'd cross that bridge when needed. I was asking for enough money to afford noseplugs and perfume.

But the answer was - unsurprisingly - "No," with no option for negotiation, and that was that. By that time I felt relieved that the door was closed, as I was finding it increasingly difficult to treat gather seriously, and had started to point out publicly the emperor's lack of clothes. Disdain is not a good attitude to have about an entity commissioning you to write for it. I'm not even sure the extra money would have made me put a lid on it.

My last column goes up on the 19th. Most of my gather content - if you're checking - is already gone, so I can get the Google searchbots to redirect results away from gather. The last of my stuff should be gone by the beginning of August, and that will be that.

If you joined gather because of me, my apologies.

On a more positive note, like energy - or bullshit, for that matter - nothing Fred writes is ever destroyed, it just changes form. Dreamtime has a new sister site - A Series of Tubes - using much of the video content I originally posted on gather. And I have some ideas for some other things in the works, too.

Those "other things" may put a further damper on fhb. I don't know yet. Like energy - or bullshit - it may be time to change into something new, and maybe, after three years of straight-ahead blogging, it's time to try something else.

Stay tuned. It promises to be an interesting ride.

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