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Good signals are cheap to send if they're honest and expensive to send if they're fake. Baring that happy ideal, good signals have a direct cost to the sender to send. The usual example is the practice of antelopes leaping straight up before running away from the lion. The signal is "I am a healthy adult antelope; you can't catch me", and the cost is the delay in running away caused by the initial leap. If you're not a healthy adult antelope, and your leap looks somewhat lacking in spring, well, that's not good for you, which is the other part of the cost -- you really do have to be healthy to pull off the leap. Signal, well. Anything supported by advertising is for sale; it's the basic problem with the model. Online venues have a lot less capture than the print venues do; a combination of less time and they're so many of them. The flip side of this is that a reputation for not being for sale—for saying what you actually believe and damn the economic consequences—is extremely valuable. The greater the pile of cash turned down, in kit and junkets, the stronger the signal that you really do say what you want, and that you're not for sale, and the bigger the amplification of your views to an audience that has decided they can trust you. So, mostly, all that lost stuff is the signal cost that someone can take your opinions seriously as your opinions, which is great. It'd be a lot greater if it paid the bills, though.
Toggle Commented Sep 15, 2009 on The Ethics of Reviewing at The Online Photographer