A Leap on the Sci-Fi Social Web: Ethical Indie Transition From Internet Exposure to Real-World Payment

On Twitter, there’s quite a fuss made about sharing other peoples’ art and ideas in exchange for Internet Points. These Internet Points come in the form of people re-sharing your “work” to others, and so on. The more your tweets are shared, the more you’re known and the more followers you’ll accrue. A bottomless craving for popularity, no matter how insubstantial, is the fuel that propels the “viral” nature of sharing via Twitter.

It’s the same across the Social Web — Reddit Upvotes, Facebooks Likes, Tumblr Notes, etc. The so-called “gamification” of the Internet can be addictive, even though it amounts to nothing of any material value in the real world. Anyone can become a star during the interval that their Twitter feed or Facebook timeline lights up with illusory ego validation.

The word for all this social gaming, by the way, is “curating”. It was even a fad on résumés for a while: “social media curation” as a special skill, not unlike the “skill” of using search engines to find things in the early days of the Internet.

“Curating” seems like such a non-activity as to be a non-issue, until you start counting the minutes as they irreversibly pass into the waiting hands of Eternity. If done even marginally well, the deceptively lightweight gruntwork of curating quietly becomes a time-consuming, attention-stealing task.

Content creation is one of the many tasks that people used to be paid for, and that social networks now offload onto their users. This offloading of effort is exchanged for ad-driven “free” services, bundled with the all-important promise of accumulated Internet Points and imaginary self-esteem.

The larger question for AltSciFi is: how to grow without becoming a typical “Internet Community” of random opinions, often descending into trollbait and flamewars?

Maybe staying small is the way. It seems paradoxical at first. Shouldn’t we be trying to go massively viral like everyone else?

According to Twitter’s analytics, we’ve had 33,900 impressions (page views) over the last twenty-eight days. That’s quite a lot for only ninety-five followers (members/subscribers). Here’s a hard-won truth that no Internet marketer will tell you: Twitter stats and social media metrics overall (Likes, Favorites, reblogs/retweets, etc.) are meaningless, much like paying an artist in “exposure” rather than money.

Our next step: channel artistry and technology through AltSciFi — not as an eternally thirsty “middleman” hunting for ever-higher margins, but as a home for high-quality indie science fiction and art.

Work has begun on the AltSciFi zine; prototyping on paper, then with a bit of code, and now becoming a more complex database-driven system. (You saw one of the prototypes posted here a couple of weeks ago. Go back a bit and you’ll see it.) There’s a tough balance to strike between wanting to create original art, music and fiction — and a larger goal of helping everyone’s work be seen.

None of this is altruistic. It’s all quite selfish, really. We’re all swimming in the same pond, you know. Thanks for choosing our little lily pad.

P.S. Oh, and yes — we don’t want you to be seen and heard, we want you to be loved and paid (love is optional; payment is essential). Again, selfish. ;)

Welcome to ethical capitalism. It’s a new idea, enabled by those of us who were born on the Internet. Seems to be worth a try, so come and participate with us. We may accomplish something that’s never been done.

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