Not for sale(?)

http://cut-the-knot.org/ ~ Not for sale

In 1996, Papa launched his pioneering mathematics website, and, from the very beginning, he refused to put any advertisements on it that he did not explicitly approve of. He also refused to sell his massive site and cede control of its direction, even though he received lucrative offers to do so.

Not only was Papa not in it for the money, but he also took pride in his own vision for mathematics education. He believed profoundly in the inherent beauty of mathematics and self-confidently trusted in his personal ability to convey it. Simply put, ‘Cut The Knot’ was Papa’s identity to those who did not know him in person; and it was the deeply personal culmination of his life’s work.


https://skepticskaddish.com/ ~ Not for sale?

As I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion, WordPress strongly pushes its bloggers towards monetizing their blogs. The following link is featured centrally on every WordPress blogger’s backend:

Hooray, money!

Clicking on this link provides bloggers with a list of ways to profit from their websites (depending upon their payment plans):

  • Collect payments
    • Accept one-time and recurring credit card payments for physical products, services, memberships, subscriptions, and donations.
  • Collect payments for content
    • Create paid subscription options to share premium content like text, images, video, and any other content on your website.
  • Collect PayPal payments
    • Accept credit card payments via PayPal for physical products, services, donations, or support of your creative work.
  • Accept donations & tips
    • Collect donations, tips, and contributions for your creative pursuits, organization, or whatever your website is about.
  • Send paid email newsletters
    • Share premium content with paying subscribers automatically through email.
  • Earn ad revenue
    • Make money each time someone visits your site by displaying advertisements on all your posts and pages.

But, really, none of these appeal to me, which is why I’ve been thinking back to Papa and his website recently. Ad revenue, tips, payments for content… I feel that any of these would fundamentally change the nature of the Skeptic’s Kaddish in ways that would detract from this organic outlet of mine. The notion of my poetry becoming the basis for transactional exchanges discomfits me.

It’s not that I’m an idealist… it’s just that I’ve come to value my relationships and exchanges with other writers to the point that I can’t imagine monetizing them. I love receiving your feedback and getting to know you – that is a most precious reward.


‘Skeptic’s Kaddish’ ~ The book?

When I established this blog more than one year ago, I had no intention of launching a poetry blog.

At the time, which was not long after I had completed my year of mourning of Papa, I was considering the possibility of writing a book about that most traditional of Jewish experiences, but I did not know how to go about it.

Many people [have] suggested that I publish the ‘Skeptic’s kaddish’ as a book, and while I’ve been giving this serious consideration, it… I feel…

unready.

Firstly, I don’t feel done with this journey, even with the close of the first chapter. Secondly, my personal kaddish odyssey assumed the format of a blog rather naturally, with all the advantages and disadvantages that offers. How would one include embedded YouTube videos and lists of hypertext in a bound volume, I wonder?

Lastly, my vision for a book includes a section that I’ve only begun working on – an ethical will.

-Me, ‘Chapter next’, Apr. 30, 2020

Today, I still fantasize about writing a book, but I am less certain than ever before about its direction and substance. In addition to all of my earlier considerations, I am now drawn to writing poetry more than I could ever have expected… and how does one tie that into a book about the mourner’s kaddish?

In truth, I know the answer to that question – writing poetry has actually become a central component of my grieving process; maintaining this very website with Papa’s photo at its top has become part of my grieving process; my reflections upon my faith, identity, and parenting experiences have become part of my grieving process.

But the problem, you see, is that one has to read my blog regularly in order to follow the developments of my grief journey. It evolves every day – from poem to poem – from thought to thought – from experience to experience… Anything that I could write about it in a book would become irrelevant as soon as it was penned; and most of it is subtly tucked away between the lines of my blog posts. Essentially, it’s actually my creative process itself that continues to heal me, more so than my content. How could I even begin to describe that?

In theory, this blog would be the perfect platform for me to launch and promote a book… but I remain too awash in abstract, entangled emotions… healing but ever lost… with nothing but mirages of a horizon before me.

41 thoughts on “Not for sale(?)”

  1. A wonderful ethic your father lived into and inspired you. I feel the same way about WP. there are those who intentionally run a business and that’s fine by me but it’s not where I’m drawn to.

  2. I love your sharing of your Dad, his imprint he had on you and I too agree with everything you have said David❣️

    With that said, I’m sooooo busy and seeing lots of clients juggling many balls so I am getting the help from a friend of my friend who is helping but please do let me know if it starts seeming like something is steering away from my intent which is sharing and caring❣️💓

    Thanks much 🙏🙏🙏🌷

    1. so I am getting the help from a friend of my friend who is helping

      Cindy, sorry, I don’t quite follow… what is your friend of a friend helping you with?


      David

      1. My site…. Not sure you have noticed tweaks on my site etc. I HATE technology but have learned lots this year. I am just asking as a friend to lmk if you see glitches etc if you see them or things that you see are off when reading etc. I create all of my own posts etc but getting technical and SEO help.
        Does that clarify things?

  3. When Nina and I first started blogging I was attempting to sell my creations on Etsy. I thought the blog would facilitate sales, but it never did. Both the blog, and my artistic practices, are better and more honest without monetizing them. It took me awhile to realize this. I can only speak for me of course. My paid work needs to be simply that, a contract between me and someone else to provide a service.

    I understand why people are using their blogs to try to sell books and art, or asking for donations. But except in rare cases it makes me uncomfortable about my relationship with them and their blog. I don’t want to be valued for my role as consumer or financial supporter, and I don’t want to feel guilty for not purchasing something or donating. I have proactively asked people about art they posted, and also purchased some. I have bought books I really wanted and felt no pressure to buy. I do like to support people in what they do, but I can’t support everyone financially (or even myself sometimes) and often feel people don’t consider that. Nor am I always interested in the kind of thing they are publishing. And when a blog is only a promotional tool, it turns me off. (K)

    1. Both the blog, and my artistic practices, are better and more honest without monetizing them.

      This is it precisely, Kerfe. I prefer to be honest and from the heart (rather than from the wallet).


      David

  4. I agree what you have stated, David, but I feel that whatever you have written on this blog can be sequenced with modifications here and there to make a book. And yes, your papa’s site was really superb, brilliant.

  5. “In theory, this blog would be the perfect platform for me to launch and promote a book… but I remain too awash in abstract, entangled emotions… healing but ever lost… with nothing but mirages of a horizon before me.” Wow. I can relate to so much of this post… but that last paragraph just sums it up. You blog so beautifully David… xoxo

  6. I had mentioned when the Block Editor was first introduced that it was my opinion that the changes being made were to facilitate the insertion of ads and other revenue generating content. Seems it also makes it easier for WP to add ads to the free blogs. It seems to always be about the $$. As for publishing – I understand completely your reasoning for holding off. My mother has been pestering me to publish for years. I finally broke down and printed, annotated, and bound a book for her as a Christmas gift. It made her happy. But I doubt I will ever be satisfied with my poetry to the extent I could justify either paying to self publish or to charge people to read the poems…

    1. It seems to always be about the $$.

      Muri, I agree with this, and it turns me off. On the other hand, I can only wish that I could blog full-time, which I cannot afford to do. Yesterday I had an interview for a great job that would leave me less time for blogging – but what if I could just make a living off of writing? Wouldn’t that be amazing? (the answer is ‘yes’).


      David

  7. … getting very curious about maths here, but probably would not even understand the problem. What I do understand and empathise with is the journey-not-yet-complete. While I don’t know in what kind of book your journey might turn, I know that mine was first conceived over 30 years ago. And even now, at every turn where publisher’s says thanks but no thanks or I feel I must be procrastinating – again- , the concept becomes clearer. Such is a meaningful journey with a book project, and as a poet at that.
    Best wishes,

    1. And even now, at every turn where publisher’s says thanks but no thanks or I feel I must be procrastinating – again- , the concept becomes clearer.

      I totally understand this, Barbara… but part of me wishes I could produce something bound and lasting instead of dragging my process out forever.


      David

  8. Your father’s site looks fascinating, and such a great resource for learning!

    As fo ads, I would never want them on my blog. I would perhaps one day offer readers the chance to buy books direct from the site though, in order to cut out the middleman…it’s an option I’m looking into!

    1. I would perhaps one day offer readers the chance to buy books direct from the site though, in order to cut out the middleman…

      That’s how I currently feel too, Ingrid ❤

  9. Ben it sounds like your father was an amazing man. A true blessing in your life. He sounds like he was a person that was truly respected and rightly so. Have a blessed day my friend. ❤️🤗Joni

    1. Joni, thank you SO much!

      BTW, please feel free to call me ‘David’ – that’s my first name. ‘ben’ just means ‘son of’ in Hebrew, and my father’s name was ‘Alexander’ 🙂

      Yours,
      David

      1. Thank you David. I love King David what a great name. So is Alexander. It was such a special piece. Wishing you lots of love this week and blessings for the family. ❤️❤️Joni

          1. Thank you for letting me call you by your first name. Do you know what Joni means?

            “Joni as a girl’s name is of Hebrew origin, and the meaning of Joni is “God is gracious”. I found this quote on a site called the bump.

            My mother’s name was Esther. I love the story of Esther. Even though my
            mother was very abusive and drunk most of the time, she believed in God and instilled that in me. God saved my life when I was in the third grade. I will always be grateful for my mother sharing her faith and giving me my Bible when I was very young.
            ❤️
            Joni

            1. Very interesting, Joni! I love names 😀

              I found this, which makes it even more clear:

              A form of John, originally from the Hebrew name Yochanan meaning “God is gracious”, via the Old French Johanne.

              Thanks for sharing!


              David

              1. Oh that is indeed interesting my friend. Thank you for looking it up and for sharing it. David you and your family have a truly blessed week. Love Joni ❤️

  10. I agree with JYP that a blog is different to a book. I did manage to make a book from my (non-anonymous, non-Wordpress) Doctor Who blog, but I used relatively few posts and did a lot of extra writing (the finished book is over twice as long as the original posts, including a completely new chapter). It was very much a labour of love rather than a financial venture, as I wasn’t able to sell it to a publisher and mishandled the self-publishing process; I don’t think I’ve sold a copy to anyone I don’t know personally.

    I have occasionally thought of monetising my blog, but have always decided against it. I feel like my readers are my friends and asking them to pay or donate seems wrong, particularly when I’m not in immediate financial need. I could see you publishing some kind of poetry anthology eventually, but I think that would be an aspect of your blog rather than a representation of the whole thing.

    1. I feel like my readers are my friends and asking them to pay or donate seems wrong, particularly when I’m not in immediate financial need.

      LM,

      I feel this way too. But then I also think – wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could afford to do this full-time? For example, I recently applied for a job that would be logistically more difficult for me than my current employment situation, and if I receive an offer from them and take the job, that would affect my posting schedule and the time I have to spend with my daughter – trade-offs, trade-offs, trade-offs… but what if I didn’t need money? What if my blog could provide me with enough to live on? Then I could write to my heart’s content and nurture all of these amazing relationships that I have.


      David

      1. I hear you, although I assume you would have to have a lot of readers in order to be able to afford to stop working completely. Certainly that’s never been anywhere near enough of a possibility for me to think about it.

  11. I get this. Look, I don’t begrudge anyone who chooses to monetize their blog in some way. Blogging takes a lot of time, not everyone has a full-time stream of income, etc. I don’t see myself doing it personally, but I don’t begrudge anyone who does.

    Writing for a blog is very different from writing a book. I can see how some bloggers can turn their blogs into books, but I can also see where it really wouldn’t work for all, even though I also get the appeal.

    Unrelated, but I have a math-related post. Would you mind if I added a link to your father’s cut-the-knot website (he has an explanation of the infamous problem I mention)?

    1. I have a math-related post. Would you mind if I added a link to your father’s cut-the-knot website (he has an explanation of the infamous problem I mention)?

      If my relationship with you led you to his website and to that math problem, that brings me great joy. I would be honored if you shared a link to his teachings.


      David

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