Monday, April 16, 2007

Terribly afraid of the future. The present, too, and change.

"I'm also opposed to the increasing presence in our organization of webscabs, who post their creations on the net for free. A scab is someone who works for less than union wages or on non-union terms; more broadly, a scab is someone who feathers his own nest and advances his own career by undercutting the efforts of his fellow workers to gain better pay and working conditions for all. Webscabs claim they're just posting their books for free in an attempt to market and publicize them, but to my mind they're undercutting those of us who aren't giving it away for free and are trying to get publishers to pay a better wage for our hard work."

Dr. Hendrix is quite right. There certainly are a number of scabs who are endangering the salaries of working men and women by giving it away for free, and I’m certainly going to enjoy seeing him take these scabs to task.

First, of course, he'll begin at home. You see, Dr. Hendrix and his wife get "over ninety five percent of our winter heating" from wood felled on his property. But Gordon & Sons Woodcraft of Shaver Lake (209.841.6243, ask for Gordon) lose considerable business thanks to Dr. Hendrix’s property giving its wood away for free. Dr. Hendrix can’t be a hypocrite—no one so devoted to the good of his fellow writers could possibly be flawed or inconsistent in his views or actions—so obviously it is his wife, not Dr. Hendrix, who chops the wood and splits it for firewood. But—never fear—Dr. Hendrix will put a stop to that behavior.

Dr. Hendrix will then turn to his fellow volunteers at the Pine Ridge Volunteer Fire Department and point out to them that, by volunteering their work for free, they are endangering the salaries of the local firefighters, undercutting those who aren’t firefighting for free and are trying to get the town to pay a better wage for their hard work.

Having cleaned up his own kraal, Dr. Hendrix will then turn his attention to the outer world. He will of course start lobbying publishers. Dr. Hendrix has certainly noticed that there are freelance editors who charge authors to examine their work. And yet publishers have the audacity to assign editors to writers and not charge the writers! Don’t the publishers want to see that all editors get a better wage for their hard work?

Dr. Hendrix has no affection for online life, but like most Americans he surely has watched television—and perhaps still watches it. In his campaign for a fair wage for hard work Dr. Hendrix will realize that in England anyone wishing to watch television must first pay a television license, £11.29 per month for a color t.v. and £3.79 per month for a black-and-white television. But in America the television networks don’t charge viewers anything at all! Don’t NBC et al. want their employees to get a better wage for their hard work? All Americans will happily anticipate the outcome of this particular crusade on Dr. Hendrix’s part.

I’m sure that he has noticed that there are writers who put reference books online for free. As someone who has written at least one reference book, The Ecstasy of Catastrophe, currently selling for $51.70 on Amazon, Dr. Hendrix stands to lose considerable money when scab writers make reference books available for free. On the other hand, Dr. Hendrix’s book was described, in The Sixteenth Century Journal, v22n4, Winter 1991, as “not always (engaging) modern critical issues” and having “an occasional inattention to detail and, more significantly, a rather mechanical reduction of issues to suit the author’s frame,” a description which undoubtedly cost Dr. Hendrix money in the form of copies of his book not ordered. So perhaps Dr. Hendrix will be in favor of having reference books online, where his work won’t be subjected to reviews which will cost him money.

Next on Dr. Hendrix’s list will be podcasts and videoblogging. Dr. Hendrix’s Wikipedia entry lists a number of presentations at various academic conferences and several publications in academic journals. As a fellow academic, I’m well aware of the meaning of articles in academic journals and presentations at conferences. In most universities’ annual review process, a conference presentation is worth between half and three-quarters of a paper published in a peer-review journal. In turn, one peer-review journal publication per year is enough to guarantee merit pay, which ranges from $1500 to $5000, depending on the university. In many universities today the main requirement for tenure is between two and six peer-review journal articles; the financial reward for tenure is between $1500 and $10,000, again depending on the university. As Dr.Hendrix knows, if enough articles are delivered for free via videoblogging, universities will no longer be inclined to pay for them come review time, and academics will be forced to prove themselves to universities in some other fashion. Rather than writing another enthralling, topical, and witty article on the humor of Gawain’s anti-feminism (Comitatus v14, 1983), Dr. Hendrix might be forced to…brace yourselves…teach undergraduates, rather than having graduate students do it for him.  

We have much to look forward to from Dr. Hendrix.


Anonymous said...

Does his wife charge for sex? I'm sure the prostitutes are all upset that there are people having sex for free.

Stu Shiffman said...

Hendrix, of course, is an asshole with no understanding of people doing anything without exchange of currency. I do illustrations and write articles for science fiction fanzines and special interest journals (Sherlockian, Wodehouse, etc.) for the love of it and the medium, not in expectation that I will make some treasure in exchange. I don't expect to be "discovered" as a secret National Treasure. It is the free exchange of information, friendship and general communication that it the most interesting and valuable aspect of any fandom or online presence.