PRECISION SYNTAX IS RANDOMLY BENEFICIAL

merde.jpgFrom the newsletter archives-An appeal I put in my newsletter which was an HTML newsletter and NOT a website.

I have changed the name of the newsletter this week. From here on it shall be known as THE ARTS NEWSLETTER EXPERIMENT. Why? I am glad you asked. I feel the importance of syntax lately because there is a recurring phenomenon of slightly off-target syntax that is making a LOT of work for me.When I am loose in the world, people often approach me and say, “I love your website!” This causes me joy!, yet also some confusion because I actually have a website, and this isn’t it. I have 3 websites actually. They are websites. They are places you can go to on the internet. One can type in http://www.moringey.com and see my website about my artwork. I have others. They don’t arrive in your inbox. They are addresses you can go to.One can also go to http://www.local.masslive.com (not one of my sites, but rather a fabulous my-pal-Kelsey-Flynn project, actually, which is a free service WEBSITE and one you should totally always use to also post your events for the benefit of her thousands of readers) and view and post art events or read the news. These are websites. One goes to them.

In addition to my website, a www kind of thing, I produce THIS; a weekly arts EMAIL NEWSLETTER. I call it a newsletter to differentiate it from a website because it ain’t no website. You can’t type an address in to your browser and access it. It lands in your email inbox. It *looks* like a website because it is formatted by code and it has pretty pictures and text and links, but in reality, it is no more a website than it is a disco. It just acts like one (a website, it acts like. not a disco. no).

Why is this a problem for me? Well, I really don’t care what you call it. You can call it, “shit for brains”, you can call it “Esmerelda” or you can call it, “Random beneficial”. No skin off my back. I want you to be happy.

BUT, if you tell people, “You should post your event on this *website*”, it causes a lot of explanatory emailing for me. People assume that a website is a website. They go to my website where I post ARCHIVES of PAST newsletters for the further enjoyment and promotion of everyone’s events, and they think this is the thing, the shit, the random beneficial.

Anyway-these people who are lead to believe that this is a *website*, use the submission form (god bless their random beneficial souls), and then immediately check back to the archives posted on my personal WEBSITE and when their event is not there, they do a little freakifying and email me with, “I submitted my events hours ago–WHY is it not there. Please fix and have it up ASAP”. This is problematic because now my newsletter has failed them in some way and they are distraught, or, in recent cases, pissed. I then need to explain the difference between the email newsletter, my personal website, and the archives of past newsletters. After explaining I rarely hear back. Maybe they are pissed-for-life. I hope not. I hope to not have to delete the archives of past newsletters from my site BUT, if this keeps happening I might have to and that will actually save me another hour and a half weekly.

I don’t want to disappoint people. I do this because I love people and I donate my time to help fill a void of events coverage for this reason. I want to please people. So, if people would, when so helpfully (I LOVE when you do that) spreading the word about this service, call it an “email newsletter” and not, never, not, a WEBSITE, I would cry tears of random beneficial joy. I’d also not get freakified emails and have to explain. Loving you (i.e., doing the newsletter) should mean never having to say I’m sorry.

And the “EXPERIMENT” part of the new name? Well, you do ask all the right questions, don’t you? Random beneficial kisses. This is an experiment so I am calling it that. Here is the question: if you donate a lot of time to do something for people for free BUT, require that they do a few minutes’ work on their end to meet you partway, will they do it? Or will they complain that the meeting partway part (the form) is tedious (it is so easy) and say that they don’t know how to size their images, leaving it for me to do? Will people complain that it takes a wee bit of work to get this free exposure? Or, will they be angry that they can’t just add me to their press release email list and attach 10 mg images? Time will tell. The other people you have on your press release list are in paying jobs. And you still have no guarantee that your event will make the listings. AND, you do not get to have an image. I am free. You have a few minutes work to do to get my free time.

We all complain about the lack of arts coverage in the local publications. I am trying to rectify that with this huge list of readers and this place where you can post events and images. It totally works, that much we know. I get gazillions of emails from people who tell me that they use it to plan their arts attendances, or that a dozen people at their event told them that they heard about it here. But I also get lots of complaints and pleas to not use the submission form. Folks, it is just as easy as the form submission at http://www.local.masslive.com and I see your events there. How did you manage that?

Interestingly, there are readers on my subscriber list from all over the world. Well, 5 countries and 11 states. Why are they reading this? A friend in another country said he is reading it because he likes my writing and because he is observing how the newsletter evolves and watching to see if it will succeed. He wrote the other day, “I think if you can’t get compliance on the form submission and image size requirements then you should just go for it and have a complete and total public meltdown in the newsletter. Make it funny, for our enjoyment. You used to be so funny, now you just beg for everyone to do their part. Be funny again. Each week provide a hilarious litany of newsletter foibles and just kill it, for us all to watch. Hell, name names. Exit with aplomb. This would appeal to our voyeuristic attraction to train wrecks and meltdowns. Have a GOOD time flaming out. Why stress? You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.”

Ha! I love that idea. I guess I began that process with my FAQs, at the bottom of the newsletter. 90% of submissions lately are close to perfect, even though many forget to put the address of the event. I am going to aim for 100%, cuz that 10% of non-compliance is a few extra hours each week and I don’t have those extra hours to give. You are my test group. Experiments usually have a test group and a control group of subjects who get the sugar pill. People are already testing the form submission and sending me fake events to see what the fuss is about. They will be the control group, the sugarpills. One day I will publish my findings in some journal of sociology or psychology, complete with pages of quadratic formulas and theories of particpatibility and mutual considerationality, and, the email complaints. In the meantime, this is an experiment. Let’s try to make it succeed. If we can’t, I promise a very public and hilarious flameout, and then it will be gone. Gone to the junkyard of failed experiments. Random beneficial love for all. The future is in your hands.

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