Matthew J.X. Malady at the New Republic writes about the decline of the signature thanks to the electronic signature pads.
In his book, Prank the Monkey, humorist John Hargrave recounts a wonderfully hilarious experiment he conducted that is, importantly, quite capable of being repeated on a massive scale. Hargrave set out to test a hypothesis that clerks accepting credit card signatures almost never pay attention to the receipts we sign. First he adorned his name with rainbows and peace signs on a receipt. Another time, he scribbled a dark black mess that appeared as though he was trying to cover up a signature so that people wouldn’t be able to tell who signed. Both made the cut, no questions asked. He did a grid of 28 rectangles on the signature line one time. No problem. Same goes for the instance when he signed his name as a stick figure accompanied by some grass and a flower. Hargrave signed receipts in hieroglyphics, wrote “Mariah Carey,” and signed in all caps as “BEETHOVEN.” Even when he wrote, “I stole this card” on a signature line, no one called him on it, and the transaction went through.
I have a fairly predictable routine right now. The mornings are devoted to my various writing projects. The early afternoon segues into errands and exercise. After 3, the boys suck up all the attention, until Steve gets home around 6:45. When things are going smoothly, it’s a very nice and well-rounded day. Lately, the work time is bleeding into the errand time, so we don’t have paper for the printer or butter in the fridge. The kids have a lot going on, so I’m attending school concerts and fielding phone calls from the school bureaucracy during work time. The house needs some repair work, so I have workers stopping in to give us estimates during dinner time. Routines are off, in other words.
We’re in the process of moving Ian from one special ed program to a different one. Right now, he attends a regional transitional autistic program in a public school about 30 minutes away. Ian’s program caters to kids who can be mainstreamed for some classes, but need supports and additional help in a special classroom. Ian goes to a regular fourth grade class for math, social studies, and specials, but his home base is the special classroom. His teacher helps him out with reading and social skills. He gets extra help with speech and handwriting.
In the fall, he’ll move to a similar program in our new town. Since the town budget passed this spring, there will be room for him in this school. I attended a bunch of meetings this spring about the switch. Steve and I are very worried about the transition. We’re worried about how Ian will handle this big switch, and we’re worried about the program itself. Will there be kids who have similar strengths and weakness as our kid? Will he really be a part of the new school? Will the teachers have the right training? But it will be nice to have Ian finally in the same school district as Jonah. Maybe he’ll even get to know other kids in town.
Other than the programmatic concerns, Ian has been very low maintenance this year. His speech continues to improve. And he’s generally a super happy kid, who gives us no grief.
Jonah had some bumps this year, as he made his own transition to teenager land. We had to readjust our parenting style, so we had some of our own bumps. Being a teenager is more than just managing the fuzz on the upper lip and the mood swings. It also about gaining certain life skills.
This spring, Jonah had to learn to take ownership of his responsibilities, and we had to learn to let him make mistakes. For example, if he has four hours to do four homework assignments, he can’t spend four hours on the first assignment and then rush the last three assignments. He had to learn to manage his time. It’s very, very hard to sit back and let him fuck up, but he needs to fuck up in order to learn. So, I had to learn to detach myself from the situation.
Jonah also had to learn how to recover quickly from adversity. In December, a substitute included his name along with the usual suspects on a list of boys who were disruptive. The main teacher punished Jonah and the usual suspects with three days of lunchroom detention, which involved sitting in a chair silently for the lunch period. No reading or homework allowed.
Jonah was outraged, because he said that he wasn’t disruptive. He said that he didn’t say a single word during the entire class period. Since Jonah has never been in trouble even once since kindergarten, I believed him. Jonah wanted me to correct this injustice. But I didn’t. I didn’t call the school. I didn’t want to use up my one “outraged parent phone call,” in case I needed to use it again in the future for something big. I also wanted Jonah to learn how to deal when unfair things happen in the future, because unfair things happen all the time when you’re a grown up.
I’m still not sure that I did the right thing by not intervening. Did I teach him to be submissive to authority? Did he lose trust in me? Sometimes parenting is tough.
I’ve been working my ass off this past month. There was the whole blogging platform disaster, plus lots of proposals and meetings for other projects. It has dredged up all sorts of big questions that I typically push out of my mind. What is the best use of my time? What has the most potential to provide income? How much time and money should I invest in a particular project?
I’m an idea and word person. That’s my internet niche. I do throw out some girlie shit with posts about things from time to time, but it’s not really my thing. The problem with the Internet is that ideas are very difficult to monitize.
Websites and blogs that focus on things – cars, computers, clothes, fish, tools and even books – can be monitized. Companies that sell those things can advertize on the sidebar. Readers will click on those advertisements, because they have a high interest in those particular products. Someone with a very unremarkable blog about clothes can make thousands of dollars per month with advertisements from Anthropologie and Target.
There are three big problems with ideas on the Internet. 1. Idea-based websites don’t have a natural connection with any businesses. 2. The audience for idea-based websites are very savvy about advertisements. They don’t click on ads, even ads that are somewhat related to their lifestyle. 3. Also, the audience for an idea-based website is miniscule compared to the audience for websites that discuss Prince Harry’s latest girlfriend.
This year, Andrew Sullivan tried to get around the idea-advertisement problem by asking readers to subscribe to his website. He did bring in a lot of money at first, but those numbers leveled off fairly quickly. He isn’t going to bring enough money this year to pay himself a salary. If Andrew Sullivan can’t make a living on the subscription model, then nobody can.
So, I’ve written thousands of blog posts over the years. Companies that specialize in the Internet ads write me everyday to ask if they can drop in an ad into my blog, but they only want to advertise on one of the thousands of blog posts. They want to put the ad on a blog post that talked about housecleaners. They represent various housecleaning services and housecleaning products.
Idea-based writers, websites, and magazines have to figure out a way to marry their niches with the more profitable areas on the Internet. It has to be done delicately, because ideas are lofty, pure things that are destroyed by commercialism. I wish I had some ideas about profiting from ideas, but I don’t.
Lens blog is just about the best thing ever. Check out the great post on the fashion photographer, Terence Donovan.
This will be our home for the short term. I’m researching other options, but it will take a couple of months to make a change. In the meantime, I will make some minor revisions and add a blogroll. Just keep your bookmarks and RSS feeds for http://www.apt11d.com. Thanks for being patient.