Monday, May 5, 2008

explaining my very obscure idea once again

I find that my ideas are almost invariably misunderstood in terms of the ideas that people already have. This is probably because, as with the late Marshall McLuhan, there is something wrong with the ideas I have, and something right with the received ideas already out there for generations on end.

But I’m surprised that, thus far, nobody has gotten the point of my collectively edited continuous anthology of the Best of the Atlanta Blogs (let’s use AJC cutesiness, shall we?).

The problem: how to overcome our natural tendency to self-promotion, and to be excessively pleased with our own ideas. (Witness my championing of this one.)

The proposed solution: A modestly elitist (nobody who doesn’t write SOMETHING about art can nominate stuff) compilation of the best blog posts of the day. But nobody can put up their own stuff: that is what they do on their own blogs.

No, they can only post (or post a link if they can’t get the technology down, which I probably will not be able to) whatever they find of particular interest in blog posts by other Atlanta writers.

The editors: all the bloggers. The moderator: serves only to mediate disputes about legitimacy of posts, and otherwise has no more rights than the rest of the collective.

The collective: is not organized, but self-organizing; members get to know one another because they read each other, even if they never meet. New members come on board by getting in touch with the blogger most compatible to themselves, via the comments section of the relevant blog. The comment says, “I’ve started my own blog, take a look and see if you like anything.”

Possible disputes: One blogger genuinely loves somebody else’s blog so much that they simply transfer the entire long-winded contents to this hypothetical anthology site. Two best friends, neither of whom can write and neither of whom have anything to say, simply post one another’s logorrhea to the site.

Resolution of this is open to discussion, because it’s where communities of any sort break down. Ideally, the requirement that the posts have something to do with art and its contemporary condition would at least limit the excesses. It might be permissible to have friends write and post one-line summaries such as “Joculum is blathering about the New York Review of Books again over on his blog. Check it out.”

But the main issue is to address the problem that most people have lives. They simply are not going to click through two dozen URLs a day to see what the bloggers are up to.

But the bloggers are, in this underserved art community, the closest thing to a network of art reviewers that we have. Other cities around the world have websites in which unpaid reviewers post large quantities of reviews and analytical previews, in formats organized by editors.

In a city where even the working critics (unless they have other, non-critic duties) get paid by the column, not by the month, and where expense accounts for automobile travel or MARTA fares are unheard of, there is no one who has the spare time to be a webzine editor, not if they want to attempt to see all the art about which the unpaid critics are writing.

[I say "writing" because some people can only access this stuff at work, where there simply is not time to listen to a video of unknown length, much less a bunch of videos. And we have two websites already that post almost nothing but video interviews about Atlanta exhibitions, so another video site seems superfluous.]

A semi-hierarchical network seems like the only solution. And it needs to be in a format that the technologically semi-literate can handle. (Facebook has been suggested. Can non-Facebook members access all the posts on a Facebook group? Remember, this is for the general public to read, not just us blog-type folks, and some of the general public have enough trouble just remembering not to type "www" before they type the blog name and the blog hoster. Every week somebody tells me they can't find my blogs for that reason.)

And because I would like someone to give me the correct term for which I am using “semi-hierarchical network,” I am going to write some posts about the rise of semi-hierarchical networks in the 21st century and why they have both intended and unintended consequences.

But for once I shall try not to lump them all into a single post.


Ben Grad said...

This sounds like a fun idea. A few comments:

Are there enough Atlanta art bloggers for this to work? Looking at posts from the entire community, I don't think we get anything approaching one post per day (even if weekends are discounted). For the website you propose to work well, there'd need to be a sense of competition between art reviews, so that posts to the website are links to truly interesting work, instead of just the only works available.

On the other hand, maybe your website would encourage more people to write about art.

I'm not very familiar with blog hosting sites, but I think that something like wordpress or blogspot would work better than facebook.

littlejoke said...

I was thinking Blogspot, or a Livejournal Community in which people have posting rights on a single blog. I was also thinking copy-and-paste low-tech methods of reposting, though I don't think you can do images that way without downloading and uploading again.

And the problem is that there really is just one post a day...if there were a cross-platform option comparable to LiveJournal's Friends page, where you could read all the new posts in one place, this effort would be superfluous. But I don't know of any way to combine new posts from livejournal, typepad, blogspot, wordpress et al, such that you could just scroll past the longwinded posts that didn't interest you.

Eventually some of the bloggers might increase their output, also, and get as full of themselves as I am on joculum when it comes to making the world try to master whatever subject I have decided is one that the English-speaking world needs a greater comprehension of. (Which I usually have not quite got right myself, self-illustrative post in that regard.)