Sunday, March 8, 2009

Age Appropriate Models

I think I mentioned I've been revisiting calculus, just to keep the blood flowing to the old noggin, and I've seen a lot of resources out there, everything from books to classes on the web.

The most intriguing resource I've run into so far is Karl The Tutor.

I don't know Karl or anything about him. I don't know if he's a real person or a group of people, I don't know how old he is, if he's really a he, or even what country he posts from. All I know about Karl is what I see when I link to his site. And he interests me.

In the first place, I like his approach to math. It works for me. Makes me feel good about spending time with calculus.

But, beyond that, his business model fires my imagination. How does he do it? I wonder. I don't see any ads or other obvious source of revenue, but the site looks a little more industrial strength than the kind of hobby sites like The Hive that you find on Blogger. Is Karl independently wealthy? Is he a tenured math professor with a little time on his hands? Is he funded by an elite group of intellectuals who want to foist their particular view of calculus off on the world? Or is he selling something that I'll find out about later, once I'm hooked on his site? I don't know.

And, because I don't know, I can make Karl up any way I want to. And here's how I see him.

I figure Karl is a guy whose greed is under control. What he wants is a way to make a living doing what he loves to do, teaching calculus. He doesn't waste his time trying to make more money out of his site than he needs for a comfortable living. He'd rather spend that time teaching math. So he sets up a not for profit, gets some grants and pays himself a reasonable salary. Throw in some money to maintain the site and maybe take a trip to a good conference now and then, and you have it.

At my age, that's a model that appeals to me.

11 comments:

quinn the eskimo said...

When I saw the title, I thought, "Oh Jeez, here goes Billy on some sex rant."

Then I get in here, and it's even more frightening - calculus.

If I moderated this site, you'd be gone, pal.

basking kafka said...

Ditto What Quinn Said™.

I did dig and grok this from Karl's site:


Whenever a problem has you baffled, listen to your mind's quietest voices, for you will hear the solution in their whispers.

Billy Glad said...

That's just sappy.

basking kafka said...

Quinn: We got the Age Appropriate Models.

Julian Smith said...

That's right, Billy. Let's get the old guy in here and run their asses off.

Billy Glad said...

Hold on, Julian. I want to see if BK is going to bring around any more friends.

basking kafka said...


"Did you know that if you translate “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” into Russian, it becomes “the vodka is agreeable but the meat has gone bad”?

quinn the eskimo said...

Jeez. Bloody Julian, eh? One day I'm offering to help him run the losers out of here, the next day.... he turns. Ah well. Whaddya done for me lately, eh Brutus?

Business models? When I look at how I use the web, I can't see how anybody's gonna make any money. These guys like Karl that drill down into something like calculus (or lightning or plug-in cars or whatever), I love their sites, but after a while, I only check back every month or so.

The people who are interesting but try to drag people back again and again through the day by slapping up these paragraph-long wittybits, after I see the pattern, I get bored. It's like hearing the same stand-up routine every day.

So when I talked to a friend who does this stuff for companies and such (and makes money at it) he basically told me I had to. 24/7. Well, fuck me, I get bored with me, and I sure as shit wouldn't want to read me pondering something for the 10th time.

The other route he suggested was to do the blog thingie, but make your money off speaking engagements or books or whatever. I donno, I was kinda nodding off at that point. Like I wanna be the next Amory Lovins or Gore or something, and live on a plane or in a hotel. I didn't like that life-model when they recommended it to writers.

So why do I come here? Well, it's smart. Lots of ideas I'd never think of, tangents, personal riffs, stuff I don't have a hope of understanding. (Hello film! Languages! etc.!) And dementos dropping Robert Palmer videos in just because it feels right (still a great viddy BK, donno why the Ellen Jamesians never got Palmer.) And... after a bit, it feels easy to talk and think out loud here.

But if there were 100,000 people coming through here, it'd piss me off. Which means, I have no idea how Billy managed to get rich from this site.

I mean, I know people spend a lot of time working on ways to get paid from doing this, but... what if it never works that way? Will it still "work"? Somebody help me here. You guys all know this better than I.

Billy Glad said...

Friends and family, quinn. Only people reading The Hive are friends and family. You put something up here, outside of 10 or 15 people wandering by now and then, only people who will see it are people you invite to see it. Friends and family. There are many more people interested in learning calculus than in getting my or our particular slant on any subject happens to pop into our heads. But a blogger blog is a low overhead bulletin board for sticking ideas up and getting the thoughts of smart people. Hive. Little community. Unlike the rest of you, I don't look at other blogs, unless you give me a link or I need info on a particular subject. How I ran into Karl. But when I was looking at other blogs, I saw most of the models I laid out in this post. I actually thought Twitter might be a better way to chat with you, but it's too limited, too much the attention-grabbing headline, too much the ads people stick up on bulletin boards in the washateria. And the MSN and Yahoo messengers are not quite public enough. So, right now, for me, blogger is a good fit.

Billy Glad said...

The post was about tools for survival. The model I'm suggesting is the one I make up for Karl. Karl's site, who he is and what he really does are all irrelevant. Age is a factor as in at my age do I want to get big or stay small, try to get rich or just make a living. The model I'm suggesting is one that lets you stay small, make a living, have a life and, depending on what your subject matter is, make a difference. I've decided I don't have time to get rich and enjoy it. Indirection is a matter of style. It's an esthetic choice for me as much as anything. I suppose I could have written something about Oh, here's a good way to make a living these days if you're over 60, what do you think, complete with Wiki references and 17 case studies. I could have explicitly named the blogs that are examples of the could bes that I'm indirectly putting down. But, in the end, posts are like puppies, they're not all keepers. Likewise comments.

quinn the eskimo said...

Indirection. My friends claim I'm the best they know at it. But it's a dog easy trick, really. You tell people something they're surprised/shocked to hear said out loud... and 99.9% of them never bother looking for more.

But Billy, your style regularly sails right past me. I can be 3 comments in before the penny drops. Which always makes me laugh. And then pisses me off that I didn't get it sooner. It's like my first read is always that of a 14 year old. Takes time for the hints to sink in.

I've ended up liking the style. A lot. Partly because I've come to despise the referenced, non-fiction stuff. I wondered for a while if I could learn to use it. But I think some styles exclude others.

Besides. I get paid by the word.