Home > Uncategorized > Being torrented, that whooshing sound, and other matters

Being torrented, that whooshing sound, and other matters

The story of the last week can be encapsulated in two quotes. 

The first is one that comes up on the front page of a freelance website I use: ‘The first 90% of a project takes up 90% of the time you allocated for it; the last 10% of it takes up the remaining 90% of the time.’

The second one is a quote from Douglas Adams. I already knew it but found it again accidentally when I clicked into a story about him: ‘I love deadlines. I love that whooshing sound they make as they go by’ (OK, it may not be an exact quote but you get the idea). So as far as I’m concerned I’m currently on last Monday’s work, it’s going slowly, and my own writing projects are similarly backed up.

The thing is this: if you’re writing distance learning courses you need to remember two things, really. One is that courses need to be regularly updated with old material replaced by fresher examples and all the dead links exchanged for comparable ones that actually work. And the second is that unlike a lecture situation, if you write something that glosses over a point you assume students know and they don’t know it, unlike a lecture there’s no row of blank faces in front of you to warn you that you might need to backtrack a little. It has to be right and it has to be properly documented, first time. And getting these things right does indeed take around 180% of whatever time you set for the job.

In other news – I’m apparently being torrented. I got a heads-up on this from a bit of spam I caught that was a link to torrentsradar.com. So the short stories and bits of flash fiction I put on here are being made available as pirated versions. 

This is the first time it’s happened (that I know of), and I’m not altogether pleased. At one level it means the stuff I’ve posted will be more widely read, which is the aim of most writers – especially those who are relatively speaking unknown. However, it means people are reading my stuff without coming back to jonvagg.wordpress.com to find me, and possibly don’t even know I wrote it or that it’s freely available on jonvagg.wordpress.com. So writing stories may entertain more people but it’s not exactly going to work as publicity for me.

Moreover, while those pieces are short, free giveaways and I make no money from them, they’re clearly now a part of the ‘digital economy’ though I confess I don’t see how the torrent site makes its money. It appears to have no adverts and no membership fees, though it is affiliated to a trafficholder site that allows people to buy and sell clickthroughs. So at some level they’re making someone money apart from, presumably, WordPress whose business is hosting free content and which has probably made a tiny fraction of a cent off my content by now… 

While I’m on that topic, incidentally, I also checked out Pirate Bay – something I last did about two years ago – and I notice they no longer have adverts from big-name banks, insurance companies and supermarkets as they did back then. When I first saw those ads I was very tempted to shop in the local supermarket and announce at the checkout that I was taking that week’s shopping as part-payment for my intellectual property rights… These days they seem to be taking ads from D-list dating sites, which suggests they’re experiencing hard times.

I’m also clearly now going to have to police Amazon, Smashwords and other places to see if other people have been ripping off my stories. So if you’re reading this blog as part of a torrent, just bear in mind you can subscribe to jonvagg.wordpress.com and get exactly the same content by Jon Vagg for free. If you’ve been trying to pass yourself off as the author of any of my stories, expect to get some grief about it quite soon.

And in future, while I’ll be posting ruminations of different kinds on here, and I’ll still post the occasional story, the stories will be in a format that won’t be quite so easily pirateable – not because you won’t be able to get the plain text, but because there will other things bundled with the stories that you’ll be missing out on if you don’t come to jonvagg.wordpress.com to find out about. Call it a proof of concept if you like, it’s a set of ideas I started working on for multimedia stories and while I haven’t had time to develop it properly, once I’m done with the current round of distance learning course revisions I’ll be able to spend a little bit of time bringing a year-old idea to fruition.

  1. March 14, 2012 at 12:20 am

    Good luck with the new concept you have cooking away in there! Being Torrented isn’t nice, isn’t fair and shouldn’t happen. Pirates should find a more creative way to earn from writing – like writing themselves or becoming publicity agents, publishers or bloggers.

  2. March 16, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Thanks for the comment. Reblogging is fine – turns out a Christian website in the US is reblogging my posts. I wouldn’t have thought my stuff would be their style but I don’t mind because the material is attributed to me and includes a backlink. Piracy is different, because even though I put the stories out for free, no one knows where to come back and find me so the whole point of putting free stuff as a form of publicity is lost.

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