[And, once again, I'm leaving this sticky, partly because although I'm much nearer to the edge of the woods now, I'm not out of them, but more importantly because our simultaneous launch of Shop Left shows the way -- I hope!!!! -- to a new model for making Corrente and blogs like Corrente sustainable. I'll have more to say about that shortly, but for now, see this "fantastically inept" post (inept from a marketing perspective, that is). Meanwhile, for those of you who are thinking of helping to sustain Corrente for the first time, the PayPal buttons are to your right.
I'm going to move the links to the top, for the quotes! Welcome, New Economics Perspectives readers! Welcome, Anglachel readers! Welcome, Lance Mannion readers! Welcome, Cannonfire readers! Welcome, Avedon readers: "Corrente is one of the best things on the web"! [Praise from Sir Hubert is praise indeed]. Welcome, Reclusive Leftist readers: "Like FDL, but with principles!" Welcome, Ian Welsh readers: "The guilty pleasure of many A-listers" [lambert blushes modestly] --lambert]
[I'm still leaving this sticky because although I can see the edge of the woods, I'm not yet out of them! If you've already helped to sustain Corrente, then many thanks, from both me and all Corrente readers. And if you're in trouble yourself, "First place the oxygen mask over your own mouth..." However, if you haven't helped to sustain Corrente yet, please consider doing so yourself, now, if only to help out those who already have. There aren't that many independent voices out there, and Corrente is certainly one -- in fact, a chorus of them! The PayPal buttons are to your right.
And speaking of voices, twig, Tony WIkrent, and jawbone, long time and regular contributors, are now Fellows. Their names will appear on the masthead when I can do that bit of technical work.
Also, please go on over and check out Shop Left. Shop Left is an online mall for lefties where you can buy, and sell. Better than a tag sale! It's also a different funding model for blogs, that doesn't depend on servicing D front organizations, or on donations. A number of us are working hard to make this work, because for a truly left blogosphere to work, we're going to have to depend on "ourselves alone." --lambert]
I'm leaving this sticky, since I'm still not out of the woods... So but and please take note of the new Shop Left Showcase block in the sidebar, because I hope Shop Left turns out to be the PB 2.0-style business model that will make blogs like Corrente sustainable. We launched with only Correntians twig and Tony Wikrent listing there, but I hope there are others soon. I mean, if you're posting at Etsy.... Oh, and if you have never contributed before, please consider contributing this time. Corrente is sustained by a relatively small number of people, and we should not ask too much of their generosity and kindness; the circle of sustainability needs to expand. --lambert]
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Readers: Once again I find I need your help, and not only to keep the hamsters in kibble. First, I've been singing for my supper with a new venture to make Corrente permanently sustainable; see below for the soft launch. But I also need to deal immediately with a personal situation that's temporary (I hope) but still approaching the desperate.
However, before I get to the new venture, let me briefly report on the state of Corrente.
Corrente status report
The reasons to sustain Corrente are substantially the same as they were last fall. To summarize:
1. Corrente was the only political blog to cover the Egyptian revolution live, 24/7, from its beginning to the fall of Mubarak. Correntians LostClown and DanPS attended post-Egyptian events in WI and OH, and tweeted them to the Corrente sidebar.
2. Corrente is the only political blog to integrate the 198 techniques of non-violent protext and persuasion with its postings on political events, whether in Egypt or this country.
3. Correntians produce consistently excellent serial content, like Vast Left's American Extremists, the Plantidotians' Plantidote of the Day, the Corrente Review of Games, Hugh's reports on unemployment statistics, PA_lady's reports on fracking, Annals of Career "Progressive" Idiocy, or It's All About The Rents.
4. Corrente excels at calling bullshit, whether on Obama, our famously free press, the legacy parties, or career "progressives." In fact, Corrente is consistently ahead of the curve in recognizing bullshit as bullshit. We knew Obama was a fraud before it was cool.
5. Corrente has assembled an excellent list of long-form guest posters of whom I would single out Stirling Newberry, danps, letsgetitdone and Tony Wikrent (both now Fellows), as well as David Swanson. And I'm sure I'm missing somebody!
6. Corrente has been consistently ahead of the curve on Depression Era/Peak Oil topics like gardening, growing your own food, and home maintenance, as well as the overall theoretical construct of "rent."
7. At Corrente, two candidates for emergent parties continue to be active commenters and posters -- Julia Williams and Warren Mosler -- putting Corrente firmly in the mainstream of American public opinion, where 58% support a third party (although some would say a second).
To which -- appropriating the Versailles subjunctive -- I would add that the 2012 campaign began today. Independent platforms like Corrente will, I hope, be important for those who wish to avoid drowning in the oncoming tsunami of mis- and dis-information from the legacy parties.
Finally, I'd like to welcome two new Fellows: twig, who has done such great work by making Plantidote of the Day a successful group effort; I really look forward to the oasis of calm and beauty that Plantidotes bring; and Tony Wikrent, who does those great long form posts on Thorstein Veblen, and machine tools. [And a third, if they'll answer their mail, snarl. --lambert]
And now, the new venture, promised in the last report and now delivered* -- Shop Left, an on-line mall for lefties. If you have knitting to sell, or books, or crafts, or CDs, or Arduino boards, then I appeal to you to help build Shop Left into the online marketplace where lefties can go to help each other out. Why is Shop Left different and better? Besides the fact that it's for lefties?
First, and growing from the P[rogressive] B[logosphere] 2.0 discussions after the 2008 meltdown, Shop Left is testing a new business model to support blogging that doesn't depend on donations, patrons, advertising, or the legacy parties. The first two models are not always sustainable, and the last two inevitably involve compromising the editorial integrity of the platform. If Shop Left can gain a critical mass of sellers (read on), that will solve the sustainability issue. And because Shop Left and Corrente are separate sites at separate URLs, there's something very like the classic "Chinese wall" between editorial and revenue-raising that used to exist in the newspaper world (see Shop Left for more detail).
Second, if you're a seller, Shop Left has a different model from, say, Etsy. Etsy charges a commission --- that is, a rent -- on sales. By contrast, Shop Left charges sellers a flat fee of $20 per month for unlimited listings. Do you want to post 10 listings for 10 books? $20 a month. Do you want to post 1000 listings for 1000 books? $20 a month. That's very different from the Etsy model, where if you sold all your books at (say) $10 apiece for a 10% commission, you'd be out $20 on the 10, but out $200 on the 100. At Shop Left, you're out $20 either way. Of course, to sell all those books, you sellers will be linking to Shop Left from all over the place, just as you would with Etsy, and that's all to the good, yes? (The "About" link gives a lot more detail on this reasoning, which will, I hope, turn out to be sound!)
Third, Shop Left has an explicit commitment to fund leftie causes through its Give Left program. $5 out of every $20 seller's monthly fee will go to a leftie cause (to be determined by the not-yet-appointed Shop Left board). Maybe we can help a local organization build a web site. Maybe we can help a Green candidate with their printing bill. Maybe we can fund a bus ticket for an activist to go to the next protest and take pictures. And so on!
So Shop Left is the new venture. I'm hoping it takes off, and I'm also chewing my hands a bit because I'm just not good with money, so I'm going to need all your help making Shop Left work as well as it possibly can (and getting the customers useful and interesting products, and giving the sellers a way to get some new business done in hard times.)
Twig was insisting that I do some kind of marketing, but I forget what she suggested. For now, and for the month of April only, I'll give a free store! Get yourself an account, send me mail, and I'll upgrade you to seller status.
Finally, readers: This is an open public beta. I'm sure the site is not perfect, and I'm going to be relying on you to tell me what I need to do to make it a better experience for everyone.
No, I don't have any medical issues (that I know of, touch wood). And while it is true that when the world's largest icicle fell off the back roof, it took a chunk of the soffit with it, that's not the source of my concern. Basically, last Thursday, an income stream that I had every reason to believe would be regular for another two months vanished with no warning, and I'm seriously hurting. The bank is unhappy, the oil guy is unhappy, the wood guy is unhappy, the hamsters aren't happy, the relatives I support aren't happy, and I'm not happy. Plus, in 11 days, I need to make the government, and H.R. Block happy. My long term situation is fine -- especially if Shop Left makes Corrente sustainable -- but in the short term things are very stressful. I could use about enough to pick up a couple of Mac Pros (which, if you think about it, is about what a professional would bill for a complex shopping site...)
So thanks for anything you can give! (And to regular contributors and subscribers, to whom I am so grateful: I know times are hard, so don't feel you need to over-extend. But maybe if you know any readers who aren't (yet) sustainers, you could reach out to them....)
NOTE The products that are up on Shop Left already are there because I needed real data to experiment with. So there are a lot of listings from twig, and a lot of listings from Tony Wikrent, both of whom helped me by spending hours on testing. I encourage everyone to add a greater variety of products!
NOTE * At least in live beta form ("Testing shows the presence, not the absence of bugs!"):