My motto on selling out is an old chestnut on this blog and podcast by now. For the record it is “There is no such thing as selling out, only selling too cheap.” In my most recent podcast I played the clip of Henry Rollins on the subject which has fleshed out my thinking some. Add in the most recent furor over blogospheric integrity, this time with Arrington at the center, latest in a series of endless furors over who is selling out. Here is my updated stance:
Selling out is doing the work you don’t really want to do, or work that you aren’t proud of. It is still selling out no matter how little you get from it or how pure the sponsor is.
It is not selling out to do the work you want to do and that you are proud of. It is still not selling out no matter how much you get and how sleazy the sponsor is.
If you hack out some work you don’t care about and get paid off with a Happy Meal, you sold out. You compromised your integrity and not even for a paycheck. Lose-lose, cabron. If you did the same work you were going to anyway, and the sleaziest scumbag in the world paid you a million to do it, you did not sell out. You played the player, created your work and got rich for it. Win-win, daddyo.
This is why I thought the previous tempest in a chamber pot about PayPerPost was misplaced. It’s not about the money, it’s about the creator and the work. If someone is creating work that matters to them and me and they can soak some company for it in the process, carry on sailor. In fact, wasn’t Mike Arrington one of the prime finger pointers about the loss of integrity in the blogosphere in that go around and isn’t he the current whipping boy? I am not really following the brouhaha closely because I’ve long since stopped caring about such things. It’s the most self-correcting system possible. When someone turns shill and stops providing value to you in reading them, you take your attention elsewhere. If they overplay their hand, they erode their own value and audience and no one will pay them to shill anymore. No hand-wringing is necessary by anyone, it just works.
To slightly paraphrase the Rollins quote “So what if someone is paying bloggers and trying to sell you something using their credibility? You saw through it, right? Because you aren’t a fucking moron, right?”