Of Crowdsourcing and Camels

I’ve been thinking a lot about camels lately.

Anyone who’s known me for any length of time knows about my abiding fondness for these desert denizens. The two-humped variety, Bactrians, hail from the steppes of central Asia, but most of the camels of my acquaintance have been dromedaries from the Middle East. I think my fandom started on a field trip to the Bronx Zoo, and was clinched at a camel market in Beersheba.

Why would I want to be a horse?

Why would I want to be a horse?

In the last few years, my attention has been focused on smaller creatures, of the canine kind; as a result, I’ve been traveling a lot less than I used to, which makes my camel bonding sessions rarer, though hardly nonexistent. The camel with whom I am pictured above lives in an undisclosed location in Tucson.

But I’m working on a memoir of my prime globe-trotting days, which has brought back memories of the many camel-centric places I visited. So when it came time for this website redesign, I knew my logo had to include a dromedary, along with an image of my dog, Madeleine.

For the record, that’s a generic camel in the logo, not one I know personally. It’s nonetheless a fine representative of the species, friendly and spit free.

I’m not going to geek out on further camel details, at least not at the moment. All this is to preface my reaction to a typical insult against camel-dom.

Crowdsourcing

When I was trying to find a third word to follow “writer”and “editor” as a tagline for this redesigned site, I posed the question on Facebook and got lots of excellent suggestions. In particular, a friend came up with the word “gallivanter,” which I loved. Several people–including the one who made the suggestion–noted that, for better or worse, gallivanter may not be a real word.

When I looked up “gallivant,” one of the definitions was “to gad.” Hmmm. Maybe I should go with “gadabout”?

I now had two choices that appealed to me, “gallivanter” and “gadabout.” I again solicited other people’s opinions. Both terms roused strong feelings, pro and con, and spurred a discussion of whether being a gadfly–which gadabout evoked–was a good or bad thing.

One vote for gadabout was from a friend who added the caveat about the fact that I was taking an informal poll: “But remember, a camel is a horse built by a committee.”

Was that supposed to be a deterrent?

Horses are fine, but camels are a whole other realm of wonderful. The hooded, long-lashed eyes, the galumphing gait that masks surprising speed, the cuddly wool coat… And who doesn’t like a creature with a built-in hydration system? If a camel is what an equine oversight committee came up with when trying to make improvements, I’m all for it.

Ready to race!

Ready to race!

When did committee become a dirty word? Or compromise? (Don’t answer that lest we get off on a political tangent.)

This issue is particularly close to my heart because I’m about to launch a Kickstarter campaign to finish and publish the aforementioned memoir. It’s been in the works for nearly as long as I have had a fondness for camels. I figure that when you are crowdsourcing the funding for a project, it’s got to be something that has crowd appeal. And what better way to find out if it does than to gather opinions from others?

When it came to the tagline, I decided to embrace my inner gadfly, as well as my New York City roots. Gadabout has a cosmopolitan “about town” echo.

Crowdsourcing doesn’t mean giving up on or diluting your vision, whether it’s for a book, blog post, or tag line.  I am the ultimate arbiter, but there’s nothing wrong with finding out what others think. Who doesn’t crave an audience for her ideas or creations?

Which I might have been less likely to get if I had opted for a tagline like “flibbertigibbet.”

***

I’ll be blogging here about things related to my memoir–which covers a lot of territory, including food and travel as well as editing and writing. Madeleine is not a dog to be ignored, so she will be featured periodically too; she has a major role in the upcoming Kickstarter promo video, among other things.

It’ll be fun. Do subscribe and come along for the ride.

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About the Author

Edie Jarolim is a writer and editor living in Tucson, Arizona. Sign up on this blog to get updates about her humorous tell-all/memoir, GETTING NAKED FOR MONEY: An Accidental Travel Writer Reveals All.

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