by Gilles d'Aymery
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. Then they fight you. Then you win."
(Swans - January 3, 2005) 2005 will see a few changes on Swans. We'll have a new design that will be incrementally implemented. We will get an ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) and have the site registered at the US Copyright Office of the Library of Congress. We will increase our efforts to counter the negative effects of the multi-posters and scavengers. And we will begin to ask for your financial support. One thing will not change though: We will provide you with original work on a bi-weekly basis -- work created by a flock, or bevy, of swans -- in a non-sectarian environment and independent from any political party. We will continue to present a variety of views from people who are committed to place human and ecological needs before greed, and to oppose this proto-fascist state of affairs, this authoritarian Americanism based on bigotry, ethnocentrism, prejudice, conformity, and increasingly abject violence. Here is more about the changes in process.
A New Look
On February 2, 2004, we published a Special Issue on Iraq which was well received by readers and visitors for both form and substance. People liked the formatting style of that issue. Since over 95 percent of all the visits to Swans are either to the front page (17.5%) or to the content of the library (77.8%), that is the essays, articles, book reviews, poems, etc. that we publish, we have adapted the style of that Iraq issue to the articles.
There may be a few glitches (none that we know of to date) and would appreciate any comments or suggestions. As always, we tried in earnest to make the files readable in any browser. We tested the design with the following browsers: Firefox v. 1.0; Netscape Navigator v. 7.02, v. 4.75; and the good old v. 2.0 and v. 3.xx which do not recognize Cascading Style Sheets, but the design degrades gracefully and the files are quite readable. In addition, the text-only browser Lynx (v. 2.8.4), which I personally use a lot (beside Mozilla's Firefox), opens the files flawlessly. So does, of course, the dreaded M$ Internet Explorer, v. 5.50, SP2. We did not test the design with an Apple Macintosh machine. If a Mac user experiences a problem, please let me know.
The articles can be printed without problem (again, that we know of) directly from within the browsers; or they can also be highlighted, copied and pasted in your Word Processing software, though, in this case, you may see the text surrounded by a border. To remove the border, simply highlight the text and change the style to your normal or default (basic) format. The advantage of printing through your Word Processor is that you can highlight the text of the article only and not print all the various info appended to the article (or essay, poem, etc.), thus saving resources (paper, ink, etc.).
The main font used for the articles is Georgia, defaulting to Times and Serif for readers whose computer does not have the Georgia font. For the title and bylines, we use Courier New, defaulting to Courier and Monospace. Font sizes are variable, but they can be controlled directly by the users from within their browsers (at least the most recent ones).
The front page uses a mix of Georgia for the bylines and Verdana (Arial, Helvetica, Sans-Serif for the text. (I think we'll eventually redesign the front page to be in sync with the design of the articles.)
Finally, the text is justified and each paragraph indented.
We've applied for an ISSN, which we should receive in a few weeks.
We are also in the process of registering the entire content of the site, Swans.com with the US Copyright Office, at the Library of Congress, and will file a CD-Rom copy of the site every three months.
We've amended the copyright notice appended below each article -- and renamed it Legalese -- to read: "Please, feel free to insert a link to this work on your Web site or to disseminate its URL on your favorite lists, quoting the first paragraph or providing a summary. However, please DO NOT steal, scavenge, or repost this work on the Web or any electronic media. Inlining, mirroring, and framing are expressly prohibited. Pulp re-publishing is welcome -- please contact the publisher. This material is copyrighted, @copy; [author Name - or Swans] 2005. All rights reserved."
Inlining (the process to link internal Swans' resources such as a java script or a graphic on another Web site, so that every time the other Web site (or page) is visited, that site or page accesses the resources posted on Swans), framing (the process to open a Swans' page (or part of) within a Web page of another site), and mirroring (the process to reproduce the content of the entire Swans' site within another site, which usually adds its own ads -- a mix of framing and mirroring) have become an increasing headache -- and a costly one at that, since these people use bandwidth that we have to pay for...
Multi-posters and scavengers remain an irritant, though at least they do not make use of our bandwidth. They simply steal the content of a work and repost it on their Web site(s) or bulletin board(s), often without even attributing the work to Swans. What's so aggravating about such practices, besides the notions of ethics, intellectual integrity, and the like, is that they defeat the original intent of the Web: An open medium allowing users to access information (content) freely from any computer in the world that has access to the Internet. So, any Web site can place a link to the URL of any Swans page and have their visitors/users access the content freely.
We do offer our material -- original work -- for free. We encourage print (pulp) publications to republish the original work (they simply have to ask). We gladly let teachers print Swans' material to use in their classes (again, they simply have to ask). We, of course, authorize any users to print one copy of whatever material published on Swans for their personal use. How more open, how more free, how more of a genuine member of the commons can we be?
I, for one, and several members of our collective, intend to press on this issue and campaign against those free-loaders, particularly those who claim that they want to "disseminate" the work all in the name of the famed "revolution" -- socialist revolution no less! -- adding the usual Title 17 "Fair Use" disclaimer while the content is absolutely accessible for free. Hypocrites all...all hypocrites and diminutive robbers who take advantage of other people's work for their benefit -- looks quite capitalistic to me...
To those people, we are saying cease and desist. If they want to disseminate our work, they should place a link to the URL(s) of the work(s). If they don't want to do it, fine...they should not bother. We do not need them.
Once again, the only way not to play a game is to not play it.
My intent has never wavered: "Swans endeavors to bring food for thought to the readers and to provide a quality literary and political site on the Web." In addition, I've attempted to offer a non-sectarian forum for authors (friends, colleagues, comrades) to express their socio-political views, and creativity, with minimal editing interference, but with much work in the trenches (on my part) to feature their work. Swans is pretty open within the realm of what is broadly defined as "of the Left." That readers have responded to our efforts speaks for itself. So does the willingness of authors and colleagues to accept our no multi-posting policy. When you visit Swans, at least you know that you will find original work. Then you can form your own opinion, as you should.
Remember, human and ecological needs before greed!
I keep mentioning that we are providing free content, but you are fully aware that nothing is free, really. Beside my non-compensated time and work, there are bills to pay: ISP and Web fees, computer hardware and software upgrades, administrative expenses, reference books like dictionaries (we just purchased the Webster's Third New International Dic. for $149.00 + tax), manuals of style, Web manuals, etc., subscriptions, books we review (when we do not get a courtesy copy), phone bills... And imagine how much more we could offer had we the wherewithal to pay for some needed help and find a way to modestly compensate a few authors...
So, here's another change for 2005. We're going to begin asking for your support. I've been working on a budget in order to show you our expenses, and we will have a page on Swans that records the money we receive and where it goes. It will be a transparent process. The next two or three years will show whether an operation such as Swans can become self-sustainable thanks to the willingness of people like you who want to see its content perdure and remain truly open to all those who have access to the Web. And as much as it is a non-commercial endeavor, it is not, however, a non-profit one. Non-profit organizations are very much for profit. Much of the "third sector" of the economy is a capitalist scam made of family businesses and foundations whose real purpose is to control dissent, advance the neo-liberal agenda in the U.S. and all over the world, and make a comfortable living in so doing, all the while screwing the commons.. So, we will pay taxes on the money you send us. I know, people do not like to pay taxes... They do not like either to see libraries being closed and social services curtailed, right?
I would like to set a dollar amount for 2005 -- say $20,000. Let's see if we can reach this goal.
Those of you who wish to help can send a check to the order of Swans, at:
P.O. Box 267
Boonville, CA 95415-0267
Thank you and happy reading! (And feel welcome to send me your comments and suggestions on our new design.)