if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around to like it, does it go viral?

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Coleridge was a drug addict. Poe was an alcoholic. Marlowe was killed by a man whom he was treacherously trying to stab. Pope took money to keep a woman’s name out of a satire, then wrote a piece so that she could still be recognized, anyhow. Chatterton killed himself. Byron was accused of incest. Do you still want to a writer -and if so, why?

—Bennett Cerf, Shake Well Before Using

I’m deeply grateful that Matthew Butterick, the subject of one of my posts on Boing Boing, not only noticed my affectionate critique but also took the time to clarify some points in an email to me (reprinted with his permission):

Mr. Moldawer

Please, Mr. Butterick: my friends call me “Dear Sir or Madam.”

He went on:

I already generate plenty of revenue from the project (via font sales).

People buy fonts? For money?!

mr. furley surprised

Thus the question is not “how do I make money?” but rather “can I do anything with the rest of the traffic?” Or is it just effluent?

The reason this question matters is because there’s no shortage of pundits and consultants who counsel authors to generate attention/traffic by any means necessary: with an email list, blog, Twitter presence, etc. Talk about old wine in new bottles.

Old wine in new bottles, yes, except wine typically gets better with age. Point: Butterick.

Continue reading “if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around to like it, does it go viral?”

i take it back–new media isn’t a cargo cult. click here to find out why!

This article appeared in modified form on Boing Boing.


“Like the great whale, retain, O man! in all seasons a temperature of thine own.”—Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

You may have read my previous article, on escaping the New Media cargo cult. Well, I take it back. To find out why, keep reading

If you have knowledge and experience to share, your heart’s desire is simply to find a decent audience and make a modest living at talking to it; meanwhile some schmuck who drinks Soylent 2.0 racks up a MASSIVE LIST HELL YEAH with slickly baited copy and bulleted tips he found on the first page of Google results.

One obvious response to this conundrum is to learn how to bait better.

Way down on the other end of this particular spectrum, you’ve got Matthew Butterick.

Continue reading “i take it back–new media isn’t a cargo cult. click here to find out why!”