I finished all my correcting, submitted grades, and I have a good grasp of what JOUR 428 will turn out to be. Time for a Netsurfer Digest (NSD) update, prompted by a letter from one of its writers.
In short, I still have no idea what’s going on with NSD.
Now, the long version….
The way NSD has worked is I get the sites and Arthur has handled the Breaking Surf (BS) selections. Those two tasks have been completed more or less independently for each issue, although I get the BS to edit and incorporate once it’s done.
In August, Arthur started slacking off, and fell behind deadlines for BS. We started getting out an issue only every two weeks. At the time, Arthur wrote me to say he was moving his girlfriend, and that was why he was extra busy.
But that pattern continued. Finally, in November, Arthur stopped communicating altogether. He won’t respond to e-mail or phone calls from writers (I haven’t tried to call myself).
While none of us is in this for the money, I don’t think Arthur has paid the writers in 2005. In the spring, he claimed that he was moving to a bi-annual payment schedule, but he seems not have paid that out either. I get paid monthly, and the last payment I got was in June.
Now, Arthur has missed paying me in the past, but he’s normally a responsible guy. He has always made up missing payments. I used to see Arthur regularly when I lived in San Jose. He was honest and forthright, not a bullshitter at all. I’m a dedicated misanthropist, but I liked the guy. He promised me that if NSD was ever headed for the drain, he’d let me know well beforehand. He’s always claimed that NSD had at least a year’s worth of cash reserve to buffer bad times.
Well, Arthur hasn’t made up this year’s missing payments, and he’s essentially unreachable. I got in touch with Bill Woodcock, who is a Netsurfer founding partner and who hosts the Netsurfer machines. Bill has also had trouble getting in touch with Arthur. Obviously, something is up, but I don’t know what it is. I try not to let my paranoid fantasies get too far out of hand.
Coincidentally, I will be in the Bay Area Dec. 24 to Jan. 4. Bill and I have plans to meet and hunt down Arthur. Come January, I expect that NSD will be a known dead issue or a known live issue – either way, no longer a mystery. If it’s dead, though, what do we do?
The options, for me, are:
1) NSD dies, and forget it. Personally, I would miss NSD, but I can fill the missing time and money with freelance work.
2) Start a new venture to replace NSD. The problem with this is that I’m not really too techy. Arthur is the guy who coded mailing and PERL formatting scripts and whatnot – I’m purely content. We’d have to find a technically adept partner, and maybe a venture capitalist or sponsor to dump a wad of motivational cash. Alternatively, we can start a blog-like NSD thing. We can have writers and editor/moderators. It’s the cheapest option.
There’s also guarantee of success. How much can we make in ads? Enough to make this worthwhile? It hurts me non-MBA brain to think about stuff like this, but – light bulb over my head – I do have a bright tech friend who is a newly minted MBA. Maybe I should run this by him, if there’s enough interest among you.
Anyway, I’ll post the results of Bill and Webs’s excellent adventure in January.
Feel free to e-mail me (address in my profile) if you want to get together for sedatives and/or animal protein in the Bay Area.
Bonus screenwriting-industry-related funny:
While researching JOUR 428 content, I found Web designer/former copywriter Jeffrey Zeldman, who posted this hilarious conversation he had with a network marketer over an ad for a miniseries. It’s Part 38 of a series of ads that never ran.