Nov 1996

O vanitas, O cash in hand!

IT'S EASY TO SEE the World-Wide Web as a threat -- the place where your work went when your wallet died? But it's a double-edged sword.

Freelance editor Mike Holderness regularly searches the Web for mentions of his own name. This is more than mere vanity. It's even more than building up an interesting list of references to use in pitching for work -- or the indescriably strange feeling of discovering that you're quoted in a US Army briefing on "Low-Intensity Warfare".

It pays.

"Waste Age/Recycling Times' Recycling Handbook," it says on this 'ere computer screen from (deep breath, ignore line-breaks) http://altavista.digital.com/cgi-bin/query?pg=aq&what=web. Internet indexing programs do strange things all the time... but no, it seems your editor really did contribute a chapter to this recherché book, all unknowing.

Sharp electronic mail to editor: "I do not recall licensing book rights, or any rights other than First U.S. Serial, to Waste Age..." . Equally sharp response: "that editor left... couldn't trace you..." Refrain from pointing out that three minutes' visit to http://Four11.com will produce no fewer than five electronic mail addresses. Graciously accept offer of $300, slightly more than the fee for the long-forgotten trade magazine article: not bad for a few minutes' work, and it'd take so much longer to push for much more.

Mind you, six weeks later the cheque still hasn't arrived. Recycling the entire publishing operation remains an option...

Mind you too, if you type your name into most so-called internet search engines, you'll be presented with thousands of references to inspect, even if you're not unfortunate enough to be called Susan Smith. How many members would be interested in day courses on efficient search strategies, for tracking down abuse as well as for generating new work, in the New Year? Let us know.

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