It's live! (What happened....)
[I'm leaving this thread sticky, since there's a lot to talk about. --lambert]
It was a lovely warm day today, so since I haven't done a garden brag in a long time, I thought I'd go out and take some pictures of how I put the garden to bed this year. The word is mulch. This shot shows the raspberry patch mulched with the last of the straw in front, and then the bed with my Versailles-style stone dust paths between them. (Some people believe in bark mulch paths, but I like the way that warm stone dust feels on my bare feet, before the tomato and squash vines cover grow all over everything.)
I'm proud of my mulching system, too. These leaves are the leaves I raked last year, put into big garbage bags, banked the house with, and spread on the garden this fall. (Banking the house with leaves really makes a difference with the heat). And now this year's leaf fall is banking the house, and will mulch the garden next year.* Let no organic matter leave the property!
And I improved my banking technique. First, I stacked the bags "head down," meaning that the twistied end is at the bottom, and so water -- which does not flow upward -- is far less likely to get into the bag; dry, fluffy leaves have a much higher R value than wet, compacted ones. Second, in the spring, I'm going to poke holes in the bags and add compost starter. Since the bags are black plastic (sorry...), they soak up heat, which I hope will combine with the starter and cause the leaves to rot more completely than they did this year.
So, that's my garden brag of the moment.
And now, since winter is both a time of introspection, and prepares for next year's growth, I want to ease into the real subject of this post, where the appropriate image -- the outage -- is not a garden, but something more like this
So, some of my financial plates crashed a couple of weeks ago -- to the consternation of many, and also to the detriment (however small) of the discourse, which really does need "the blog that everybody hates and nobody reads." During the hiatus, I did learn a few things: It really does matter to a great many people that Corrente is up and running; and it really is possible to ask people for help (you know who you are, and I'm very grateful). I was also amazed that nobody seemed to be angry. Some claim that there is no such thing as an online community, but my experience tells me that is not true. Also, the outage was the first time since 2003 that I've taken a sustained break, despite my periodic threats to do so. Basically, Corrente has been a constant during my waking hours for eight years, and so going without was.... Quite a change. (I could also have wished that the financial plate had not dropped and smashed quite when it did, since Corrente, for a blog its size, has a remarkably high concentration of people who have actually been present, on the ground, during Occupations, and who are willing to post on their experiences, and I had the feeling that Corrente was taking off, into a new space that was not so much "all lambert, all the time."
However, right now lambert -- if I may speak of my online persona -- is the single point of failure at Corrente. And the "lambert spins plates" model just isn't sustainable, as the outage proves.** That's not fair to the Corrente community, nor to the various sub-communities within Corrente. Nor is it fair to subscribers. Nor to me. To me, Corrente, besides being something very like a child, is also a job, and a stressful one: The annual fundraiser, where I ask to be paid for work I have already done, covers most of my property taxes (given my current mix of Corrente and "outside work"). What happens if that plate drops?***
Further, one thing I discovered during the outage was that some ideas for Drupal software development that I've been thinking about for a long time have finally gelled; and I'm going to be doing light posting during the month of December, probably in the morning and evening, so I can work on that. These ideas may end up being of interest to some here; we'll see.
Finally, what is to be done to make Corrente sustainable? Adding, again, that right now it's not; if the next plate that drops isn't money, it's going to be lambert's time. My thought -- but, readers, I am throwing this open to you, in comments -- is that Corrente's tiny but real revenue stream needs to be divided into two parts: (1) The monthly stream to pay the servers, and (2) a different stream to pay contributors, including lambert. Right now, it all goes into one pot, which is income that I pay taxes on, and that's not working. (Here I may be able to take advice from people who actually know how to do fund-raisers; Yves's fundraiser was very successful because she did just that.) The monthly stream could also be used to do other good works, too. But these are just my ideas; at some point the child must leave home. Perhaps a Committee or a working group could be formed; live chat (which permits file uploads) might be a useful tool.
NOTE * I do compost some of the leaves, but I generally have well over 20 bags, and I don't have the compost bins to put them in.
NOTE ** I should say that I dropped the plate because I tried to spin one plate too many. As it turns out, over the last few years, I've developed excellent Drupal skills [hint hint], and also superb skills [hint hint] as a site administrator, moderator, and poster. So I'm about as well positioned, given the givens, as I could be.
NOTE *** It's not a coincidence, I think, that bloggers like Susie Madrak or Jim Rittenhouse or Arthur Silber have constant, protracted medical ills; computer work is, in itself, very hard on the body, and blogging 24/7 is even more so. I've been spared their issues, may the God(ess)(e)(s) Of Your Choice, If Any, be thanked.
UPDATE I guess I'm saying that here's an opportunity for Corrente, as a community, to figure out how to sustain itself. FDL has a membership model rather like NPR, but I think I'd like something more.... Occupational. Over to you, readers!
UPDATE I should say, though nobody mentioned it, that my stint at NC had nothing to do with Corrente going dark. I'm part of the community here, and don't want to leave at all. However, if the community is to sustain itself, clearly I can no longer be the single point of failure.