My name is Charlie, but if your looking for my work, I go by C. E. Dorsett. I write scifi, fantasy, and a touch of horror. I like to play with gothic, steampunk, decopunk, epic fantasy, and wuxia. I love to tell stories and talk about books, movies, series, and music.
Wicked Little Town (Why am I here?)
Usually, we I get into the place I find myself today, people think I am putting down the physical location I am in. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I find myself living in a place as foreign to me as a fish exploring outer space. I don't just mean this actual town. I mean my personal, professional, spiritual, and imaginal lives. I have entered a domain that is no longer governed by my five senses and everything I have ever learned, thought or believed is useless.
I swore to myself that I would never move back to Poplar Bluff, but here I am. There are many versions of the story.
- In one, I am victim of circumstance. Not entirely, but this was not in the plan.
- In two, I am a good Samaritan. Not really, I am a little too selfish for that to be true.
- In three, I am afraid to move. I lost nearly everything once, now I am afraid to loose my family too.
- In four, I am afraid I don't know who and what I want anymore. This one is probably closest to being true.
A couple years ago, when my grandfather died, my sister (who I trust, admire, and love more than anything) sat me down and gave me an ultimatum: "You have tried to be a writer for a long time now. How much longer are you going to do this before you give it up and get a real job."
It broke my heart, and in many ways my soul. All I have ever wanted to be was a writer... well storyteller. She was right, up until that time, I had not found anyone who liked anything I ever wrote. My prospects as a writer were slim to none.
I remember that day clearly. That was the day I sacrificed my personal life to make my dreams come true. I started worked 12 to 18 hour days writing and learning:
- how to blog
- the ins and outs of the software
- how to podcast
- how to pretend not to be the shy, sensitive artist, and how to be an entrepreneur.
As my former life lay bleeding at my feet, I turned my back, hoping to achieve my dreams and make my family proud.
My professional life is a juggling act.
I blog for three sites.
I record 9 podcasts a week in 5 series.
I am planning out a new novel in a new setting.
I promote 3 already published works.
I run a Blog and Podcast Network.
I am developing a Table Top role playing game based in the settings I created.
I am a community manager.
I am dashPunk Media's tech support and code monkey.
I am not looking for sympathy. I enjoy most of what I do for work, and not a day goes by when a reader/listener doesn't remind me why I do what I do. The problem is, I am having trouble remembering why I do it.
I can definitely say:
- I am not in this for the money (though it would be nice).
- I am not in this for the fame (frankly the little that I have freaks me out).
- I am not in this for my ego (I get too much hate mail for that)
I love to tell stories because I like to connect with others. There is a certain magic that happens when I discuss one of my stories with a fan, or talk about someone else's story. Stories are the way we share those unspeakable things with each other. They are the way we connect on a deep level. That is what is missing:
Where are the connections?
I am fortunate to have made connections with a few of you, but not nearly to the level I would like, and not nearly in the way I would like.
The Internet is by its very nature impersonal. It is hard to meet and connect to new people in a real way.
We talk on twitter, email, every now and again through IM, but these are all dry and empty communications platforms, not community platforms. What I am wanting to make is an honest to God community on the web. Facebook is great for the people I already know, and twitter is great for sharing ideas and links, but what I want is an interconnected hub where we can meet greet, and share. Getting to know each other, and helping each other out.
Laconi.ca, Reddit, Drupal, and Ning
I looked at every social tool I can find, and I have yet to find the one that will do what I am looking for. They all have their pros and cons, but the hard truth is, I really don't have the time and energy to learn all of these systems. What I want is a one stop shop.
I am not sure what happened to Chris Pirillo's idea for a simple community version of Drupal, every time I go to the site it is down. I suppose he abandoned it.
This might be a problem that is not solvable.
The Dream App
I like Ning, and the features they offer, they have all of the basics:
- Branding & Visual Design Freedom
- Unique Member Profiles
- Moderation & Privacy
- Invitations & Search Engine Optimization
- Latest Activity
- Custom Text & Widgets
- RSS Feeds In and RSS Out
- Photos Feature & Branded Photo Slideshows
- Video Feature & Branded Video Players
- Discussion Forum
- Blogs for Every Member
That is the bare minimum for a network, but it really should have a few more things.
- Twitter integration: (Using the Existing API)
- Group Tweet-like functionality that would allow members see each other's updates in one place, as well as post to the feature, and have the feature post on to Twitter. Members would also be able to start new groups with a quick and easy set up process.
- Tweetizen-like functionality that would allow for topic communities, and a great example of group tweeting, but it is limited to 10 people in a group, that limit would have to be removed, and members would have to be able to join without having to be added.
- Last.fm intergation: The ability to display and share information to and from Last.fm in the network.
- GoodReads integration: The ability to display and share information to and from GoodReads in the network.
- Blip.fm integration: The ability to display and share information to and from Blip.fm, including a network playlist, and individual ones for the groups.
- Social Bookmarking integration: I really have no favorites here, but it would be great to share, collect, rate, and organize links.
- Full integration with other photo sharing sites.
- Bookmarklet to easily share videos, pictures and links into the network
- Groups should have the option of having their own blogs.
- Member blog posts should have the option of which groups they are posted to.
- Easy Zine creation and distribution.
- Members should be able to start, accept submissions, edit, and publish their own zines individually or in groups.
- A desktop app that makes all of these features little more than a click away for those members who are interested in it. Something like TweetDeck.
I know I am probably forgetting a lot of things. If you can think of anything that your dream network should have, please leave a comment. Maybe we can find a couple developers who can help us take BuddyPress, Ning, or Drupal to this level of functionality.
Jay and Silent Bob vs The Easter Bunny
If you have no idea what I am talking about, then you have to stop what you are doing and watch "Mallrats" before you do anything else. This is one of the best fanart images I have seen in a very long time.
(via My Boring Ass Life thanks Bill!)
Headlines for 2008-08-04
This is the last blast from one of the titans of metal.(tags: therion)
If you liked the other ones, watch this movie.
I hope he is not seriously injured and get well soon
(sigh) I love Amazon for making my life as a small press writer, but at the same time they have become more and more monopolistic lately... seeing them buy AbeBooks is not a good thing. I really want to see more competition not less.
Culture, Art and Design
This just seems like something that a father would buy for their son, or a loose weight in 30 days gimmick. Either way, it saves on gas and and would probably work
Maybe these would go well in a public office, but my dog would destory them... unfortunately, that doesn't stop me from wanting them.
Thanks Mike, this is one of those sites that makes me want to do more crafts, especially crafts that will keep that certain aunt away. :)
The Levelator is a must for every podcaster to have and they just updated the Windows Client.
Headlines for 2008-03-14
The new gameplay is needed, and I cannot wait to join the Midnight Squad and unlock the new Roman uniforms. Just when I was not sure if I was going to continue with the game, they find a way to pull be back in. Good jobs guys.
Project: Shadow Manifesto
To mark the 10 year anniversary of the Project: Shadow Manifesto, we thought it was time to overhaul it again, but this time to open up the project to all of the like-minded fans out there who are tired of the status quo, and who are hungry for something new. Brian and I drafted the original Project: Shadow Manifesto in 1999 as an outline we saw in professional publishing. The original draft was heavy on problems, light on vision, and even lighter on solutions. We took years investigating the limited options available at the time, built the original Project: Shadow, and I started writing.
In 2004, we revised the manifesto, and re-launched Project: Shadow. The new draft focused on the solutions possible through new technologies. The world/culture presented us with newer challenges.
We are fans.
We love our music, stories, characters, and settings. We know about what we love. We participate in what we love. We support what we love. What we love supports us.
At heart, a fan is not someone who enjoys a movie, a song, a band, a book, or a show. A fan feels an intense connection with the object of their love. Fans decorate their homes, offices, and desktops with items that announce their allegiance with their favorite bands, movies, shows, and books.
The problem with our popular culture is that it doesn’t blink at a sports fan wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with their favorite team, or even a replica jersey, but wear a Star Wars shirt or dress like a goth and they think they have the right to mock you.
What is the difference between a fan wearing a jersey to a game or fan bringing a light saber to a movie? Or for that matter, what is the difference between a sports fan painting themselves up to go tailgating or a fan dressing as their favorite character at a convention?
Perception. Pop Culture has classified sports fans as acceptable and speculative fiction fans as geeky. I have to say, it is just as geeky to now all of the stats for everyone who has ever played for a particular sports franchise as it is to know the stats for every creature in the Monster Manual. The only real difference is one fan accepts they are a geek, and the other pretends their geekiness is proof they are a jock.
The disapproval is the least of the problems facing today’s fan.
From Storytellers to Copyright
Problem: People are natural storytellers. We hear a story, embellish it, and pass it on.
Solution: We tell each other stories, sing songs, write books, make videos, and create art to share these stories with each other.
Every story we tell is not original. We like to tell the same stories over and over. We borrow stories from any where and retell them in our own vernacular. It is intrinsic to who and what we are to share stories with each other.
Problem: The only constant in the world is change.
Solution: We ask ourselves the question, "What if," and share the answer with each other.
Problem: Artists and Writers need to make a living singing their songs, writing their books, making their videos, and creating their art.
Solution: We establish systems of Copyright.
The Cultural Cycle
Before the era of Copyright, stories, heroes, melodies, and lyrics belonged to the people. Stories were told, and retold. Numerous visions of each story competed against each other. The best were remembered, collected, retold, embellished, and built upon. The rest were forgotten.
Who told the first story about Hercules? Or Jason? or Troy? Who started the legends of King Arthur? or Beowulf? The first tales and their countless reiterations have been lost, but the best, most iconic stories survived.
Of all of Shakespeare’s plays, only a few comedies have no obvious sources, and even they rely upon well established patterns and archetypes.
This is the Cultural Cycle that keeps important stories alive. Each generation must retell the tales of the preceding generations in their own context to keep them relevant. This cycle has been broken.
- Problem: Companies lobby to prevent Intellectual Property from reentering the commons of the culture.
- Problem: Companies control the instruments of culture, making it harder to engage culture creatively.
- Solution: Fans retell these stories as not for profit tales, films, and songs.
- Solution: Fans organize themselves into clubs and conventions.
These solutions are are not enough. Fanfiction and film relies on the good will of the copyright holders and the fact that the fans do not make money from their works to slip through the thinnest of loop hole in copyright. As a result, pop culture is unaware of the cultural developments and retelling of these new stories. The subculture may be enriched by them, but the culture as a whole is not.
The Creative Commons and the Cult of the Dollar
Problem: Publishers and producers focus more on the commercial and popular value of a work, and the creative energy of the work suffers. Readers/viewers will not become fans, and fans will not continue to accept passionless works of Speculative Fiction.
Solution: Placing honesty over consumerism, we fans must stake out our own home to create and share the works we love. We must stand between the darkness and the light: This is the purpose of Project: Shadow.
Problem: The Companies and Rights holders lashed out against the fair use of their properties.
Problem: Some Rights Holders have lulled fandom into a false sense of security by not suing and even encouraging those who produce fanworks
Creative Commons is one of many proposed solutions to this problem. Others have lobbied for copyright reform. Neither of these is a solution to the problems.
Copyright reform is a doomed enterprise while corporate lobbyists have the power they do over the congress. While it is a goal to work for, it is just not realistic in the short term.
Creative Commons is closer to a solution, but the adoption rate has not been sufficient to even start chipping away at the problem.
The reason Creative Commons is an uphill battle is that it is a major evolution in the way rights holders handle permissions to use their work, and exists without an intermediary form. Existing rights holders have not adopted it because they are unwilling to give up all the rights entailed under Creative Commons.
I approached the Creative Commons Foundation with a proposal for a Fan Works License:
Some of the rights holders I have talked to are reluctant to use the CC because they are concerned they are giving up too many rights to their works. A Fan Works License would allow rights holders to clearly state what they will allow others to do with their characters, content, and settings.
It would be a bit more complicated than a standard CC, stating whether others may make original text, video, music, or art projects based on their works. It would also allow them to set the content rating they would allow fan works to have. This could be aligned with the MPAA ratings or the ESRB ratings system or an original system. The reason for this is so a young adult novelist could set a max rating of PG-13, allowing others to know what standards they would apply to determine whether a fan work is legitimate or not.
The other terms would be the same as in the standard CC.
You may not think something like this is necessary, but the current state of fan works is hazy. While few have been sued in the last couple years, at any time, rights holders could decide to start suing again. By creating a license that covers works with the same characters and settings rather than a particular book or movie, I believe we could get more rights holders to use the license to allow for the creation of fan works, which is a step on the road to open up works to the commons.
They responded with a simple, “CC probably isn't going to be expanding the license offerings, and in fact, over the past few years CC has been reducing the number of licenses.”
I do not believe that a fanwork or Creative Commons license is the ultimate solution, but as a possible stepping stone toward an open culture.
Progressive Speculative Fiction
- Problem: Modern and Post-modern fiction is antithetical to hope, imagination, and community
- Problem: Success is easier through snark, hate, and discrimination.
- Solution: We will promote, support and create Progressive Speculative Fiction.
What is Progressive Speculative Fiction?
Progressive Speculative Fiction is a story told in any medium which has a "What if" at its core and is filled with hope for the future and promotes a sense of community.
How can disaster fiction be progressive?
Watch a Godzilla movie or either The Day the Earth Stood Stills. If there is nothing worth saving, then there is no tragedy. The heroes must at least try to save someone or something worth saving.
How can horror be progressive?
Watch nearly any horror film made prior to 1990 or for the best example read The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker or anything by Anne Rice. If life is not worth living or there is nothing worth defending, where is the horror. If life is worthless, then death is merely a release from a nightmare. There is nothing scary about it. If there is no free will, nothing is lost by imprisonment or possession. If sanity is not worth preserving, why bother.
What works are Progressive Speculative Fiction?
There are too many to mention all of them, but to offer a spectrum:
- The Matrix/ The Matrix Reloaded/ The Matrix Revolutions/ The Animatrix
- The Dark Knight
- Final Fantasy - The Spirits Within
- The Lord of the Rings
- Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, The Queen of the Damned, and The Tale of the body Thief
Just to name a few.
- Problem: The word "Myth" has become a marketing term.
Homogenized works are released more often by the industry every year. Focus groups and market analysis have replaced quality work, but since the cultural cycle is broken, industry has no alternative. It is safer to release works like the ones that sold last year than it is to seek out new talent/ideas that would be more of a risk.
They know what the fans want. We want myths, stories that speak to us on a deep level while entertaining us. Myths are hard to make. It is easy to add in a wizard or a starship and call it mythology. Fans see through it, but the masses are looking for little more than sex, violence, and humor. Speculative Fiction has been watered down to little more than:
- imitation space opera
- knock-off cyberpunk
- repackaging of the rings
- martial arts boom-boom
- torture porn
They, then, wrap it in a shiny box, slap the word myth, saga, legend, or reboot on it, and wait for the masses to spend their money on it... and they usually do.
We do not need another company driven by profit margins, or another author whose self-important propaganda obscures the art.
We need writers and artists that love what they are doing.
We need fans who are not afraid to speak their minds.
We need places in our towns/cities and online where we can meet and share the few gems that we find from the industry and from the independent artist, writers, and filmmakers who are still following their bliss rather than the dollar.
That is why we are here. Project: Shadow and dashPunk will provide a platform for writers, artists, filmmakers and fans to “follow their bliss.” We are dedicated to finding and promoting the best Speculative Fiction out there: the little/well known writers, filmmakers, artists and works, fostering their talents, and helping them to not only follow their hearts, but to share that vision with others.
But we cannot do it alone!
Fandom Strikes Back
- Solution: We must seek out and support the writers, artists, and producers that encourage and support fan works.
- Solution: We must get writers, artists, and producers on the record about their position regarding fan works.
- Solution: We must live according to our values of hope, imagination, and community.
- Solution: We must build a community around hope, imagination, and community, and reject the rote cynicism that defines the faux-fandom that loves to tear things down rather than build things up.
- Solution: We must spread the stories, videos, songs, and art that speak to us.
Together, We can make dashPunk and Project: Shadow more than an idea or a website, but a vibrant community of fans who share the things we love with each other.
Together, we can make it easier to find and share the things we love and find new things to love.
Together, we can build a community of fans who support and engage one another for our mutual benefit.
Alone, none of us can stand up to the corporate powers who control the music, video, text, and art that we love, but together, our voice will be heard.
Fandom is a vibrant culture with its own music (filk), events (conventions), games, and myths. Until now, we have gathered periodically, or in disparate groups.
Now is the time to bring the great multitude of fan bases together.
Now is your time! Copy this Manifesto. Print it, post it, email it, share it! Tell a friend, and most importantly Make your voice heard.
Project: Shadow Manifesto by Project: Shadow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at dashpunk.com. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://dashpunk.com/about/.