November 2005

“What do you get when you pair a Hungarian writer-photographer with a Pakistani musician? Answer: sublime photographs of the Danube, a narrated short story, set to the sound of the tabla and atmospheric Punjabi vocals, all presented in a multimedia slideshow format.”

Click to visit openDemocracy site to see the slideshow!

I updated the People page on the OpenCafe site. Click to see photos of our artists, volunteers, trainees, clients, friends etc:-)

Hi everyone! I thought it’s a good idea to think back and look at all that we have accomplished during this year.

If you have a sec, click here to add your thoughts, suggestions about the OpenCafe and ArtMarketOnline – as well as read what everyone else says about the cafe.

Okay, so Anna has been hyping my little poetry collection up a lot, for which I’m very flattered and gratefull. Ergo, time for me to say something though, and I opted for speaking a little about why I did things the way I do.
Why did I publish under a license that means you can give your whole circle of friends photostats ? Why did I choose to say you can record a song based on it, or use it for lavatory paper or anything else you wish to do without needing my permission – in fact asking only one thing – credit ?
Is it because I am crazy ? Well perhaps, but then it’s a good kina crazy I think 🙂

If there is a short version it’s because Bob Dyllan, Led Zeppelen and the Gratefull Dead all encouraged people to make mix tapes and bootlegs of their concerts ! To share it with their friends, and they are remembered not only for the great musicians they were but for how much money they made as well.
Not that I think I’ll make much money either way, it’s not that kind of book, but just like the Deadheads knew that the band won’t mind some copying – because what matters most is being heard, so I care more than anything about being read.
All poets write to say something, many are just writing to talk to themselves – and they often not only refuse to publish but only a select few very close friends would be allowed to read their work at all. The rest of us however, we write because we want to say something to the world. Even if only a few people listen – that makes us feel better, makes us feel more human.
I allow sharing because I want people to hear what I have to say not because I want them to pay for the privilege.

In fact, to be frank, I don’t think any artist has the right to say otherwize. It is not a privilege to read a poem, or a book, or see a film. But it is a privilege for the artist to be seen or read !

Courtney Love said artists should realize they are not sellers of anything – because no matter how good your art, somebody else would be willing to do just as well or better for free, they are like waiters, and if people like a waiter, they tip. That is where an artist can make some
money – he gets ‘tips’ from those who feel his work has touched them.

It’s not that unrealistic either. How many of you would go to a restaurant and not tip the waiter ? If it’s obvious that the waiter has gone the extra mile to be the best waiter he could be ? Very, very few people are so miserly that they will refuse a tip – even a bad waiter gets a little tip, a good one gets good tips from nearly everybody.
So if I my poems touch you in some way, then that is wonderful, if you then feel I deserve a tip, that’s really nice of you, but I don’t expect you to do it. I want my poems to touch people – whether they love or hate them, if they just make them think that’s a really big something !

I’m answering this question now because I get asked it a lot. To be honest though, the question actually makes very little sense to me. How can you ask me “how do you intend to make money” or “why would you give you work away ?” – I wasn’t making any money when I wrote it. I wasn’t making any money when I read it at poetry nights – the feedback of which was absolutely critically to helping me hone my craft, if I needed money to write I would never have written a single line – I write because I love writing, money isn’t just unimportant to the discussion, it has absolutely nothing to do with it.


Batteries not included is AJ Venter‘s book :

“A selection of poems from up and coming South African author and poet A.J. Venter. A philosopher, programmer, free software and free culture advocate and above all human being, Venter writes about the world with honesty and integrity and publishes everything under creative commons licenses.”

AJ’s book is published under a Creative Commons license and is available at .

Click here to buy the book – a download version is also available.

AJ just got his ISBN number for the book which enables him to sell his book on

He says on his blog :

“One of the prices you pay for self-publication is that you do everything yourself, and things take longer to complete. Although batteries not included has been in print since May, it is only now that I have finally completed the process of getting an ISBN number assigned (that’s what you see above), which greatly increases it’s ease of availability. The book will be on from tomorrow, and will appear in the Bowker’s books in print database in about two weeks, from when you will be able to ask your local bookstore about getting you a copy. ….
….. Unfortunately, due to the cost passed on by outside distributors (a cost that comes out of my personal royalty), I was forced to increase the price just a litle (my orriginal royalty was in fact less than the cost of distribution), it’s not a huge increase, and it was unpreventable, so those of you who got early copies scored a little bit.

Either way, the idea of soon being able to order my own book in any bookstore in the world is just so seriously cool!!! ”

AJ used to “self-publish” his book:

Founded in 2002, Lulu is the web’s premier independent publishing marketplace for digital do-it-yourselfers. It’s the only place on the web where you can publish, sell and buy any and all things digital — books, music, comics, photographs, movies and well, you get the idea. We simply provide the tools that leave control of content in the hands of the people who created the content. You see, Lulu is a technology company, not a publisher. So you can use Lulu to publish and sell any kind of digital content, and no one here is going to ask you to change anything. Ever. Your vision is entirely YOURS. ( click to read more… )

Netanya has worked on the site – she added a new slide show to the home page and added new products. Check out the latest version of the site here.