Comments on 2021-07-08 Marvelous Pursuits

Sometimes I feel that my hobbies must bear some sort of “fruit” (monetarily) to demonstrate their “worth” or else I am simply “wasting my time.” This is probably a falsehood based on a skewed and biased perspective, but it is still my general orientation, despite evidence to the contrary nature of life (I.e. it doesn’t matter to the quality to the quality of my life whether or not my hobbies are “worth” jack or shit).

Something to ponder for sure.

JB 2021-07-09 02:36 UTC

Sometimes I wonder whether this a regional thing. Would German RPG people feel the same, if they had as easy access to PDF webshop, payment options, and so on. Or is this a consequence of living in a North America. What’s your impression of people trying to monetize their hobbies in South America?

– Alex 2021-07-09 10:33 UTC

I feel something similar, but it’s not about making money off the things I made, but about those things being used by other people. The money enter the picture only because those things are physical, and there are fellow hobbyists who sell theirs, so it would feel bad to give them away for free (and then my hobby might cost too much too). So I sell them at the cost of the materials, pretty much, because I want them to be used (and valued) by others. I also publish the designs freely, of course, but that is usually not enough.

What is the point of making something if nobody uses it?

– deshipu 2021-07-09 10:59 UTC

I guess that’s true. There is only so many wooden toys to give to your children, only so many pictures to hang on your walls, only so may tea cups to make – at some point you are going to give some away, or sell them.

– Alex 2021-07-09 11:52 UTC

I finally finished the whole article, and I noticed that it does this infuriating thing that Cory Doctorov called “terra nulla”, and that is so common in the “hacker” communities: they glorify the individual by yanking them out their context and deleting all the work done by the people around them, so that they look oh so creative and special.

All you have to do is ask “How did that sidewalk poet learn Aramaic?” and suddenly a whole community of people who are (or were) interested in Aramaic pop into existence. People who spent their lives reconstructing the language, who wrote books about it, etc. And once you start pulling on this thread, it all unravels. Why do they write in a dead language that their audience not only does not understand, but is unlikely to even recognize? Are they so afraid of criticism? Is their poetry so bad, that the only way to make it more interesting is to translate it into a fancy language? And why do they need to recite it to stranger people on the streets? Is there no community of fellow poets that would listen to each other poems? Or did this poet leave such a community, and now is desperately looking for any audience?

– deshipu 2021-07-09 13:28 UTC

They called it terra nullius (“nobody’s land”) and proceeded to “improve” it to make it into property. Many of these “improvements” involved acts of genocide against the indigenous people. After all, if something is owned by nobody, then the people on the land must be “nobody.” – Terra Nullius, Cory Doctorow in Locus Magazine

It’s an interesting line of thought, for sure. Rarely does something appear from nothing. There were teachers, fellow students, communities of practice, at least written records, maybe the people who make the products that help others get started.

I think this terra nullius criticism can be valid without invalidating the criticism of productive hobbies, where we apply the logic of the market to our free time, value our time spent by the money received; or the criticism of empty, performative hobbies, where we play the piano because this is what people in our class do.

From my point of view, a more interesting counter argument to the line about influencers telling us what to do and selling us the products to do it is that I don’t actually know any adults that still play an instrument without loving it where as there are many adults that still own that piano their parents gave them and then they stopped playing as soon as they realised that they were doing it for other people instead of themselves. In short, perhaps the entire line is a strawman put forward because it’s easily defeated. And if it is a strawman, then perhaps the difference between a hobby and a “marvellous pursuit” is not so great after all.

– Alex 2021-07-09 14:36 UTC

There is no monetization of hobbies in South America that I have observed. But I have only lived in a small part of S.A. and have only traveled to a handful of its countries.

Still, given the general mindset, I’d think the idea of doing so would be strange and exotic to most. A hobby is something you pay to indulge in frivolously, not something to earn income from.

JB 2021-07-10 16:41 UTC

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