Thursday, March 30, 2006

Vertical Learning Curves vs. Roller Coasters

The funny thing about vertical learning curves and roller coasters is that they both leave you feeling kind of queasy! With roller coasters, you pay to go on some large metal ride where you are constantly wondering if the safety features will work properly as you scream your head off on a thrilling, stomach churning and thankfully brief ride.

Vertical learning curves produce much of the same sensations at times but with your feet safely planted on the ground. The same sense of dizziness, stomach churning and doubts... but sometimes this ride lasts longer.... or at least the headache from cramming too much information into your brain at one time lasts longer than a roller coaster ride!

Ever since the information about broke just over a week ago, I have found my days filled not only with my usual work, but hours of learning legal terms, finding out about where and how sites are set up without the proper safety checks in place, checking with some of my friends who know computers far better than I do about how information can be tracked back to the right people, bringing the INRG Legal Defense Fund Committee up to speed on what has been happening in our industry. The first time this pattern sharing started, a whole bunch of designers used their talents to create a book called Celebrations of Stitching. It was not only meant to use our donated talents in a creative way to educate stitchers, but it was also a fundraiser so that we would have money as an industry to take legal action at some point. Perhaps the time has finally come.

It has been hard using energy and time on stuff that I’d rather not learn or have to deal with. My e-mail addy also got added to a list-serve that backfired and got stuck in an endless loop, but for a day or so, we thought that someone had hacked into my computer and used it to send out e-mails because I kept getting replies to replies to... you get the picture. It was odd that many of the companies e-mailing me were from the same country as one of the people I complained about to, but maybe that is just coincidence. I’d rather think the best of people if given a chance. Perhaps this is why the willful abuse of my copyrights by a small but determined group of people is still so baffling and hurtful to me.

Ultimately, we each live by our own moral codes and with our lives as a legacy to what we each believe. That is one of the reasons that Soli Deo Gloria appears on each chart I design and self-publish. That is why I cannot pretend to be someone that I am not. When I investigate a group, I go in as myself.

David Phelps song “Something’s Gotta Change” from his Life is a Church album has kept me sane this past week and is often blaring out of my Mac. It has become the theme song for this season of my life. Hate has to be met with kindness and love, but that does not mean you have to be a victim. I have already looked in the past year at reducing the amount of designing that I do to concentrate on other things that are either more profitable or less difficult to steal from me. Even if I decide to stop designing when I reach my hundredth design soon, I will have left behind a legacy of images that I am so proud of. I have heard from stitchers all over the world in the past 12 years who have enjoyed stitching my designs and that is more than most artists get in their lifetimes.

I also know that I just cannot walk away from an industry I love and still believe in. Something has to change in our society... in how we deal with what is right and wrong... in how things are evolving as we move to a more globally wired community. If I end up feeling called to speak out socially, legally and legislatively or founding a group to lobby for changes to copyright issues and privacy laws that let thieves hide behind false identities. Perhaps then a day will come when someone who creates any image, song, story or item that brings beauty to our world doesn’t have to worry about how quickly people will steal that for their own savings or profit.
It may be a roller coaster ride... and some vertical learning headaches...but that’s what makes life interesting!!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Ding..Dong..The BOX Is Dead!

Yay! At last! The BOX is dead! Never will I let a large box like that be a place to just toss stuff until I can deal with it. I will deal with it all and get it in its place because the few moments it takes to do that are so much better than dealing with tons of tiny things from receipts to skeins of half used floss to old cards, letters, invoices, receipts, beads and other weird stuff. Now the cardboard box is holding all my sorted brown envelopes ready to go to the accountant as soon as I do the totals for each category. Then, I think this new person is going to help me get set up on a better system to look at categories on a quarterly basis and see how things are going.

It nice to be able to focus on the little successes and the little steps forward when it feels like so much of this past week has been backsliding. Its looking as if some of the infringers on are indeed Canadians and that makes me both sad and angry. The size of our population spread over the vastness of our country does mean that sometimes stitchers have to travel great distances to reach a store or mail order/on-line order, but the very idea of using our geography as an excuse for their actions is a bit repugnant to me. I can still remember the excitement of reading the r.c.t.n when I first discovered that there were on-line communities where you could talk about your love of stitching, learn new tips or tricks, find out about new releases or designs that were in the works. Sadly, somewhere along the line with the changes in technology, scanned patterns began to be shared as well.

One stitcher sent me a brilliant poster from the French designers association. It showed a blank graph on the poster with the caption “without designers, this is what your pattern would look like!” It was brilliant, simply brilliant.

We say as an industry that we need to encourage the next generation of young stitchers... but who will they learn from? Will their first introduction to stitching be sharing information or patterns? Unless we speak out, unless we make changes to what is acceptable legally, morally and ethically, this type of behaviour may become the norm instead of the exception. At least I know that my children are learning differently, because they are seeing first hand what effect copyright infringements can have.