Monday, May 15, 2006

'15 Megs of Fame"- a New Media Survey

"Revolutions tend to suck for ordinary people"

I've been itching to do this post for a week and after getting inspired by today's post/commentaries over at
Arts Journal, and by a related post in response over at Art Powerlines, I'm finally getting to it. Edward Winkleman touches on today's discussion of art blogging vs. traditional art journalism as well. I'm not going to go to deep into this but to nutshell my opinion, I echo various commentaries that the blog fleshes out the discussion in general. There is no need to completely replace traditional media and arts experts, but there is a need to open up discussion and provide more access and avenues for people to get into the nitty gritty. Blogs provide context and frankly there is a hell of a lot good writing and critical thinking going on out there. We need this - and more of it. Critics miss the point - the singular voice is discredited, and why not have some raw unfettered grousing going about real topics? It can't all be about Jerry Saltz. We need small groups getting into it and playing off each other's knowledge or lack there of. Tyler Green says it quite well on Winkleman today in his response to Chris Lavin. I think the blog can open up the art world to the real world - and not a minute too soon!

Anyway - what I wanted to dig into was something that I came across thanks to the always relevant and erudite posts at
kazys.varnelis.net.

A few weeks back, the Economist ran a great series on NEW MEDIA. (take some time and read all of the articles) But in case you don't let me provide these nuggets.
The blog and its offspring -wikis, vlogs, podcasts, metaverses and folksonomies - are really the bookend of movable type, 550 years after Gutenberg. We are at the begining of a new era which some call the age of participatory media - I've heard Network Culture used as well. Duh, right? But did you know that 57% of American teenagers create content for the web? That's a big number for only one demographic. A new blog is created every second of every day and the 'blogosphere' is doubling in size every 5 months according to Technorati.

!!!

This has a broad implication. Traditional media models are based on "aggregating large passive audiences and feeding them product" whereas new media audiences are increasingly small and often tiny, seeking and using content created by peers or themselves. The former 'audience' is now audience and provider. This cha
nges public discussion entirely and what is subversive here is that "institutions are turned into conversations". Barry Diller gets quoted as saying he thinks talent is a finite pool - why would anyone want to read a dullard with a blog?-typical for a media mogul who has FOX on his resume. He's completly wrong obviously as the article goes on to point out and likens what we are about to see as a creative explosion on a sizemic scale, rivaling biodiversity itself . There is no one source of truth - but multiple truths and now we all get to sort it out together!

The blog is essentially social, the unedited voice of a single person for the purpose of having a conversation, a shared space. This is so critical for a society that lost its public forum decades ago - if it ever truly existed. The articles continue on to cover wikis vs. vandals and citizen journalism which already has tranformed South Korea's media structure due to the success of
Ohmy Ne
ws. That's saying alot for arguably the most technologically advanced country.What was the impetus behind Ohmy News? To tilt the conversation away from conservative bias! It worked, all traditional media had to re-organize itself to compete. So I have to agree with Dan Gilmor of Grassroots Media (which stalled here in the U.S.), the more journalism the better. Why - more context for what is going on, plain and simple.

So what about the artblog? Is it going to upset the traditional journals and critics? I sure as hell think so. It has to if we hope to have a critical realm that matters. Its far too insider now and frankly, I'm getting more out of reading from fellow practioners and arts professionals than the blue chip journos. I don't want to read kissass reviews of Ivey Leaguers and constructed artstars anymore or who the young hot phenom is and why we need them. I want substance about why we are making art - why it matters and where we are collectively in dealing with that. Can we as artists connect to our society at all? So blog away!! Let's continue what is shaping up to be a great dialogue.

If you want to consult the experts, here's
David Sifry of Technorati and Chris Anderson of Wired plus many more. There's a ton of material to go through here but its all so relevant.

illustrations from The Economist

8 comments:

DilettanteVentures said...

You hit what makes blogs more compelling for us, as we mentioned over at Winkleman's - "mainstream" publications are dominated by the logic of the market. There's tons of crap in the blogosphere, but once you hit some decent content it usually leads to more sources in a kind of bottom-up editorial function. You have to read the "real" art critical writing if only to know where the dominant discourse is situated, but if you want vibrant CONVERSATION and truly dynamic content,there's no comparison.

Steven LaRose said...

I love this post following the 20 questions. Its an exciting time.

highlowbetween said...

For me too. There's plenty of mediocrity and inaccuracy in the traditional formats. Look at the scandals at the NY Times, New Republic and a recent study by Nature Magazine comparing Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britanica - Britanica had less errors, 132 vs. 166 - but they claim not to have any errors. That's illuminating to say the least. What I also loved having acknowledged in the article was that its ok to have a small or timy audience - its doesn't disqualify you as relevant. Oh - and thanks for posting that Ace Frehley fan letter!
Made my day.

Steven LaRose said...

"Its ok to have a small or tiny audience" I've been thinking that that is what is so compelling about blogging. I don't want a big audience. I get very suspicious when I have higher then normal spikes in my "traffic". Blogroll links created to generate hits seem so disingenuous. For me there are roots of the DIY movements of fringe or sub-genre music fanzines in blogging. The beauty exists in the ability to define something without excluding the importance of other things. I can "stumble" into a plein-air network and gleen something as well as the painters nyc clique. The cross-fertilzation coupled with the specialization seems extremely healthy to me.

highlowbetween said...

S- I totally agree. What critics are missing is that this is a social phenom not really a publishing one.
Yes, stumble! Its a lateral move within discourse.

Susan Constanse said...

It is the social aspect of blogging that is most appealing. If you like spiky little fruit that tastes like a cross between a grapefruit and a watermelon, than chances are you can find a blog about it somewhere. Really, I have found it very affirming to find folks with so many parallel opinions and experiences.

I'm not the only middle-aged, second career artist out there. Whew!

Jonathan Foster said...

Perhaps blogging is a form of healing for me. Audience size is a tough one for me to accept, having pursued mass media professionaly for most of my life. Though on paper, I know it looks good, I am still trying to get my mind around the fact that a smaller, more specific audience is much more to the point. Ask any modern marketer, they'll agree. And I have memories of presenting plays to packed houses of 20 and knowing that what was happening creatively was what one hoped for. Yet, tied to that experience was the apprehension that a 20 seat house just wasn't big enough; it wouldn't bring me a meeting in Hollywood; wouldn't get me that two-picture deal; wouldn't get me that beach house.

This conversation is important to me. Phenomenon aside, this is good for a person's creative psyche. To justify, encourage, reward the work done for the individual by the individual, spurning the thinking of such giants as Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA, who said (paraphrase) that any idea that does not promote commerce has no value. Healing, indeed.

Also, I thank you for leading me to the article in The Economist as well.

Jonathan Foster said...

Perhaps blogging is a form of healing for me. Audience size is a tough one for me to accept, having pursued mass media professionaly for most of my life. Though on paper, I know it looks good, I am still trying to get my mind around the fact that a smaller, more specific audience is much more to the point. Ask any modern marketer, they'll agree. And I have memories of presenting plays to packed houses of 20 and knowing that what was happening creatively was what one hoped for. Yet, tied to that experience was the apprehension that a 20 seat house just wasn't big enough; it wouldn't bring me a meeting in Hollywood; wouldn't get me that two-picture deal; wouldn't get me that beach house.

This conversation is important to me. Phenomenon aside, this is good for a person's creative psyche. To justify, encourage, reward the work done for the individual by the individual, spurning the thinking of such giants as Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA, who said (paraphrase) that any idea that does not promote commerce has no value. Healing, indeed.

And I thank you for directing me to the survey by The Economist.