Actions of "selling out" and "cashing in" are often thought to be binary in nature. Sellouts are bad, right? But the intricate, interconnected grey area (™ Em Delaney) in which we live, survive, work, and make art in the world is an experimental plain. The idealistic artist, the socioeconomically aware citizen, and the nasty ol' capitalist economy are all delicately intertwined.
From this perspective, living and working ethically in the Big Bad World becomes less an experience of angst and guilt, and more one of creativity, compromise, and even fun. Not only can we develop individual Cash-In Theories, but we can craft businesses and marketplaces that parallel the mainstream economy, occasionally intersecting it.
I've been involved in many such indie enterprises, and one of my favourites was Fringe Ware, Inc. Based in Austin, Texas and online from the early to late 1990s, FW imagined a confluence between the existing marketplace and a set of values we could all live with. Genius Fringe Ware co-founder Paco X. Nathan sez that I may publish here the Fringe Ware Mission Statement from back in the day, back when the average person didn't throw around words like "sustainable," back when I had a blue mohawk, back when we thought we were going to change the world with the Internet… hm, look how that turned out! Anyway, this is some good reading and I hope you enjoy it.
Fringe Ware, Inc., is a small commercial enterprise dedicated to community development around a fringe marketplace, where the edges of diverse alternative cultures intersect. We feel that the Market is the core of any community, and sick markets mean sick communities… just look around.
FWI acknowledges the essential importance of trade, but our mission is to create a context for E. F. Schumacher's "Economics as if People Mattered."
What's in the Fringe Market? We focus on publications, events, and products that we find interesting, fun, and enlightening. We publish printed and electronic periodicals including Fringe Ware Review, TAZMedia, and Unshaved Truths; operate a retail bookstore and mail order service selling street tech, gizmos, wearable subversive memes, etc.; host an Internet mailing list for information from/about the cultural and technological fringes; and organize events with other organizations on the Fringes.
We're learning that people can survive quite nicely without huge corporations, huge governments, and huge dogmas pushing their lives. So here is the FWI alternative: start your own corporation. Trade with other like-minded people throughout the global village. Encourage innovation and promote entrepeneurship. Promote fair, cooperative business practices. Emphasize products that facilitate creativity, health, and play. Explore consciousness alternatives. Build community through advanced, available technologies, e.g. computer networks. Respect and consider the natural environment by promoting sustainable resource use. Have fun, be weird, and make what it takes to survive.
Welcome to the fringes of art, technology, and society. From here innovation emerges, and here survival, through cooperation and use of the unexpected, counts. --Thanx!