Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fame, Fortune, and Maybe Even Power 2.0

Bear with me here, I'll get to the political crap eventually....

I was visting Jonathan Coulton's blog earlier and he scored a write up in the NY Times. If you're not familiar with Mr. Coulton hang with me while I bring you up to speed. Mr. Coulton left his programming job to pursue music which he then made available on the internet via podcast for free. He turned out 1 song a week for a year (that's five albums) most of which were originals and allowed his fans to muck around them however they saw fit (according to CC licensing) resulting in multiple videos for certain songs which were distributed via YouTube. Fans opted to buy songs, listen to songs and then donate to Mr. Coulton, and many listeners paid him jack. However he managed to make a living off of voluntary purchases/donations to an average of 4 grand a month.

How did he manage it? By interacting over the web with his fan base over the web via his blog, forums, MySpace, and email. Now I like some of his songs but he's no Mozart. His strength lies in catchy rhythms and melodies, good although often odd subject matter (monkeys, mad scientists, robots, and the difficulties of becoming a parent), and an honest sounding voice.

If you'll check out the Times article you'll find out that he just one of several artists that have manged this. (He's just the only one that quit his job before the model was tested.)

Now given those results I'm left wondering how long it will be before a mayor, state congressman or federal congressman manages to pull out a victory using a similar model ie spending six hours a day answering emails and blog/MySpace comments. Admittedly the demographics of the area would have to be right but if one had that they could theoretically fund raise and interact daily with their future constituents thereby bridging the gap between elected official and voter. After all the Netroots have already proven what a fund raising machine the interwebnetthingy can be.

With online services that allow for blog posts, text messages, and emails to be sent to cell phones one could theoretically be plugged into ones city or district 24/7. And as the old beltway guard gives way to a new generation of political newcomers the possibilities on a local or district level become endless like oh say fund raising without donations from special interests or corporate sponsors. The question is who is going to be the first to explore the possibilities of digital democracy to it fullest extent?

Now back to Mr. Coulton. I hereby award him the Crapomatic Institute's coveted Golden Cajones Award for taking an incalcuable risk and succeeding. And if you happen to run for office using a similiar model drop me a line. I'll cover the race and you'll be the prime nominee for the same award.

You can listen to all of Mr. Coulton's Songs here

I advise listening to "You Ruined Everything" first, "Code Monkey" second, and if you appreciate dark comedy "Skullcrusher Mountain" third.