COVID-19, Lessons Learned, Work from Home

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

There’s going to be plenty to say, write, and learn from the horrors of COVID-19. This is about the good things we’ve supposedly learned, and the unexpected sides of these “good findings.”

See, it’s easy for us to learn from the bad things, because the bad things hammer their lessons home – we have to actively learn to avoid them (and we do). It’s also easy for us to look at the good things and learn from them because, hey, we like the good things. There’s a problem with the good things, of course – we miss their impacts.

See, the good things, have impacts. The good things still make changes. The good things, if we actualize them and apply them, still change the world, and we might not be ready for change.

There’s a lot we’re learning from the COVID-19 shutdowns and changes and so on. Often I see talks about the good things, so let’s talk about their unexpected impacts.

Let’s talk working From Home. COVID-19 has forced a lot of people to work from home, and that has led to the conclusion by many (myself included) that we can work from home more, and probably should.

The benefits are, of course, obvious, and are often repeated like some kind of mantra. We can save commute time. We can reduce pollution. We can change up our hours. We can reduce land use and rethink our work arrangements. You get the idea.

The thing is if we maximize what we learned, if we truly move to “Work from home when possible” and apply its benefits, then it’s going to make a lot of changes in our lives. Changes that will alter the world, and give us new ways to screw up.

Let’s dive into those.

CHANGE IN PUBLIC TRANSPORT: If you’re like me, you’ve wished for better public transport in your area – and mine is better than many. Work from home might be nice, but how’s that going to affect public transport, how it’s funded, and how will that affect people that can’t work from home?

CHANGE IN TRANSPORTATION METHODS: People will in theory drive less. Which could affect car sales, car maintenance, gas station sales, and the like. You’re going to see subtle economic changes and unsubtle ones people missed.

CHANGE IN RELATIONS: Work from home means seeing some people less and some people more. Relations among co-workers, friends, family, and people we interact with will alter. We’re probably not ready.

CHANGE IN REAL ESTATE PRACTICES: Less people going to work means less people using buildings for work, means changes to real estate prices, practices, and zoning. There will be vast changes in value, maintenance, and what land is used for if we do more Work From Home.

CHANGE IN EMPLOYMENT FOR FACILITIES: Your office building or wherever you work has janitors, maintenance people, receptionists, perhaps even a cafeteria. When more people work from home, what happens to those jobs? To those people? Work from home in much larger levels could put people out of work.

CHANGE IN TECHNOLOGY: If you’re working from home more, that means having the tech to do so – the computer, the internet, the cell phone, the security, etc. Will this create new jobs, alter existing ones, and eliminate others – well, yes. If you do tech support and tech setup your life will change if we work from home more.

CHANGE IN SCHEDULES: Think you’d work the exact same hours in an age of work from home? Almost certainly not. That’s going to change relations, plans, schedules, support hours, and more. Is everyone ready for new schedules even if they supposedly save time?

NEW RELATIONS: Working from home means you’re interacting with a new group of people. You’re going to different restaurants, seeing different people, making new relations. You might not be ready for that especially as other relations are changing.

CHANGE IN DWELLING: Is your current house, apartment, etc. suited for Work From Home? Would you move to a better area? How many other people are going to make changes to their dwelling, how will property values change, how will policies of apartments change? More work from Home alters everything.

Look at the above. Imagine if we worked from home more and all the sheer alterations it would make to our lives, our relations, and our economy. If we apply all the lessons on Work From Home from COVID-19, it’s going to be yet another series of dramatic changes.

But we’ll be applying these lessons in the wake of a pandemic.

Steven Savage

180 Shades Of Profit: An Analysis Of An Amazon Erotica Author

I was going to write about networking, but I caught an article on Kindle micro-erotica fiction and wanted to analyze it.

Over at Cracked Magazine (unofficial motto “The most unexpectedly informative site on the internet.”), author Robert Evans interviewed author Peter Hayward. You probably don’t know Peter as he writes under the Nom De Porn “Pandora Box” at Amazon, and has written over 180 books. Actually you probably don’t know Pandora either, since she/he writes very specialized Amazon Kindle Erotica, and her/his story something worth analyzing.

Now I advise reading the article in its entirety – though fair warning it’s NSFW and some of it is a bit squicky. But it’s a rare, human, and fascinating insight on the fact people are churning out some pretty specialized short erotica in ebook form and making a decent amount of money. We may joke about Dinosaur porn but this is a real thing, its impacting us, and we might as well think about it seriously.

Why seriously? Because eBooks have changed literature. Because people can self-publish. Because people are making money at this. Because it is a fundamental shift in writing and marketing and getting paid.

So before we discuss my take, here’s a quick summary of the article:

  • You can make a lot of money – if you write a lot.
  • You need a niche
  • It’s insightful on people’s fetishes
  • Some erotica terms are code for OTHER things.
  • Amazon has some pretty arbitrary rules.

Now after reading the article there’s a few insights to share with you, my fellow authors. Gay time-traveling cowboy romance aside.*

This Is What People Used Fanfic For

I know fanfic. I’m an Elder Geek. I’ve seen it, wrote it, edited, read it over the decades. I’ve also seen many times where fanfic took a pretty quick turn straight into fetishville- and having been in MST3K fandom, probably moreso. MST3K fandom was often the equivalent of people that want you to smell the milk to see how rotten it is.

A lot of this Amazon erotica sounds like fanfic, targeting specific needs.

I wonder (and I have no evidence either way), if this is where some people are going for needs that fanfic would have filled, or to writing it instead of fanfic as its monetizable. I’d love to see someone do research on it, and that’s a hint to my academic friends.

In fact . . .

This Trends Needs To Be Studied

I’m not saying you need to do a PhD thesis in Werewolf Mind Control Romance** but someone should be studying this trend of fast, specialized, electronic micro-erotica.

Think about what we can learn. Right now people can practically make a living speed-writing a specialized forms of literary pornography and distributing it electronically. Joke about the content, joke about the readers, joke about the book titles***, but this is a historical event. This is something we should be doing academic research on because it is a massive, historical change.

It’s easy to joke about it (it’s not like I’m not doing so), but this is a confluence of so many issues about economics, communication, technology, and human nature someone needs to figure out what’s going on. Narrative examination, research, polls, someone needs to get to this.

If you’re looking for that PhD thesis, I got your subject, but your reading list might not be what you wanted . . .

This Is Insight Into What People Won’t Admit

Research is useful for finding what we don’t know, understanding what we do know, and asking new questions. This area provides some fertile insights into the human conditions.

Once you read this article, and any related articles about trends like Shapeshifting Wizard Incest****, you may joke about the people that read this stuff. Of course when it sells good enough that people can make a living at it, maybe you ought to pay attention. This is providing us insight into things people won’t admit.

  • People won’t admit to these fetishes in public – but will enjoy it in the safety of a kindle window.
  • People will write this stuff for money – I’m sure not everyone will arm it it.
  • Amazon is glad to make money off of this despite some confusing rules – what hell must it in their legal department.

This trend shows insight into human tastes and conditions and culture we’ve not had before. There’s a lot not admitted. Why? How?

As the person behind Pandora says “The more messed up the story is, the more it’ll sell.”

Kinda makes you wonder what your mom is reading on her Kindle, doesn’t it?

It Must Be Tempting

How many of us know or are authors? How many of us have wanted to write fiction? How many of us want to make money at it? OK, I know that’s a larger number, now tell me this . . .

At any time you read this article, were you tempted, just a bitto see if you could make Genderbending Leprechaun Romance*****? Yes, you were. Admit it, you were, even if for a half-second of thought and several minutes of guilt.

It must be incredibly tempting for people who look at this world of strange, specialized, micro-erotica that make money and want a slice of that. It sounds like money in the bank if you have the time, the commitment, and probably an iron stomach. If you’re unemployed or underemployed, it has to be even more tempting.

Maybe it’s not even the money. Maybe you want to challenge yourself. You have to think “any idiot can do this, and I’m any idiot” and wonder if you can do this. Maybe your ego is hurt that someone is writing these books and you aren’t and you want to soothe the wound. But whatever the reason you probably were tempted.

You Can Make Money – But What Are The Implications?

Now, yes this looks profitable. I’m sure many people could make money at this, which is a weird way of saying that I have faith that you, my audience, could right some really well-selling disturbing erotica if you wanted. But there’s a flip side – namely, what are the repercussions for your career?

If this is a side thing, I can see it not being a problem. But if you spend two years writing this stuff do you put it on your resume? Do you mention it in interviews? If you spend a lot of time with this as your only income source how could it look to an interviewer or a client?

I’m not one deep into the world of freelance/professional writing, so I assume writers have a lot of ways to dodge around the dodgy. But if someone gives into the temptation to try this (or the temptation to actually make enough money to live) then one has to evaluate the career tradeoffs. “Fast porn writer” isn’t exactly going to let one branch out.

Closing The Chapter For Now

So, those are my analyses as opposed to my intended rational column on Networking. That’ll probably be done later.

I’d love to hear other people’s insights – seriously. This bears discussing.


– Steven Savage

* Start writing.
** Start writing.
*** It’s not hard.
**** Start writing. Also, good Black Metal Band Name.
***** Start writing.

Get Your Minecraft Moving: A New Trend In Gaming?

Lately I’ve seen a trend in gaming that seems intriguing. It looks like we’ve got a new iteration on the Minecraft genre – games that involve self-created vehicles that are realized with voxel technology and completely independent components.  We’ve got another iteration of games on the way that you, as a potential game creator or professional, should follow.

(By the way, yes, I called Minecraft a genre.  I consider Minecraft to be a game that is both a game, but also has a general, archetypical nature that makes it a genre as well.  Anyway, on with the post.)

Read more