Monday, 9 September 2013

Dear Samsung

McAdamThe people in my local Post Office didn't notice the editor of the newest technology blog, ‘Samsung Beauty’, standing among them. Nor were they aware that Rachel McAdams figured so heavily in my thoughts or that she too was excited by my plan...

The queue was at least twenty pensioners deep so it left me running late today, plus I also smell of Werther's Originals. But isn’t that the kind of detail that we technology journalists crave? One point three inches of caramel toffee, wrapped in a golden polyethylene wrapper laser cut into perfect squares. The caramel itself was luxuriously smooth, with class-leading performance when worked between dentures...

Why I was at the Post Office will become apparent in the coming days but needless to say that I’m hoping that my £1.60 was wisely spent. You see, I’m trying to open high level negotiations with the people at Samsung about my doing a review of the Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) preferably in black. I say ‘preferably in black’ but realise that I didn’t specify that in my letter…

Damn me and these careless beginner mistakes! Not that I would complain about a tablet in white but if we’re going to establish our reputation as the premier Galaxy Note 10.1 inch (2014 Edition) website, then we need to get these fundamentals right. As right, perhaps, as the faux-leather back of the new Galaxy Note…

We are now in for a few nervous days, perhaps even weeks, as we wait to see what happens. Will Samsung reply? Will they forward the name 'Burke Bevel' to MI5 for inclusion in a list of agitators and political malcontents out to undermine the capitalist system through a cunning use of comedy begging?

Comedy begging? I like that phrase and I think I’ll make it my own. After all, I’m not ashamed of what I'm doing. What is technology journalism other than a form of high-level begging? There was a time when a product launch involved a warm buffet in a third rate hotel in the middle of Bradford. These days, companies pay for journalists to travel the world, play basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters before being taken on a helicopter flight to some star-studded product launch at Everest Base Camp. The only difference between technology journalists and myself is that I’m willing to put on some extra effort up front.

That effort comprised this morning’s bundle: a large brown jiffy bag containing two pages of tightly-written prose, a copy of my book (inscribed and signed), and one A4 sheet of expensive (and mounted) Bristol Board on which I spent a good part of yesterday drawing and then inking a cartoon. Will they appreciate the gift I’m giving them or will it end up in the bin?

I go cold at the thought of that particular cartoon ending up in a bin but I guess if I’m foolish enough to send these priceless things to people who might not appreciate them, then in all likelihood they’ll end up covered with filter coffee and chewing gum. I suppose that’s part of the fun. It shows what a truly valueless world we live in.

I suppose that’s why I do it. In fact, I don’t suppose. I knowingly give my work away to strangers because it raises interesting questions about the way we value the things around us. How much would it cost to walk into a shop and buy that hand-drawn cartoon? Is it vulgar to ask? What price on my labour, even if I put zero price on my talen? My nearest shop selling cartoon originals, the Cartoon Gallery in Chester, sell them for nearly £300 a piece or about the same price of the old Samsung Note 10.1. Is that too expensive or too cheap for a drawing? What price would I set mine for if I were selling? £10? £50? £100? Of course, there's no upper limit on what you can ask, just a limit on what people might pay. I’ve seen sellers asking many thousands for original drawings by artists such as R. Crumb and even more for Golden Age superhero illustrators such as Fred Ray. Jack Kirby originals are priced like vintage cars.

Of course, I’m not a Crumb or a Kirby. I’m just me. So what price my originality? A mass produced lump of consumer electronics or the totally original piece of artwork drawn with a Rotring and dip pen over the course of ten hours? Does that seem like a fair swap?

If only it were that easy… Is that cartoon enough to make them think I’m serious or too much so they think I’m mad? Should a man aspiring to road test a Samsung Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) tablet even think this way? What would Jason Bradbury do? What would Burke Bevelling do?

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