May 15, 2006
Smoke and mirrors and the futureby
I sympathise with Mr. Green's frustrations, but I don't think what Andras said is that far from the central predictioon in his own blogosophere triumphalism. All Andras seemed to be saying, to me, was that, as with any critical discussion, a winnowing will occur in the blogosphere. Wit, intelligence, breadth of knowledge, depth of judgment -- all of these remain as values in any discussion of the arts, and as an internet reader -- as any reader would -- I seek them out and learn to ignore all that cloud of chaff. This will inevitably happen there and it will happen in conjunction with print critics.
What I find so irritating and irrelevant from bloggers is the notion that "technology (and tomorrow) belong to me, and therefore I get to declare who will or will not become extinct." Mr. Green ignores two things: One, in a discussion of the arts, in the arts themselves, small is sometimes highly valuable. Simply because a particular artist or critic does not have a huge, worldwide audience, that doesn't mean he is irrelevant and will soon be worthless. For those of us in the books world, the persistence of literary journals and the short story are perfect examples: They wield an influence far larger than their publication numbers indicate. This would seem obvious to bloggers, who generally position themselves as the doughty, lone rebels against the lumbering star-cruiser fleet. But in dismission outright arts journals and other outlets as future roadkill, Mr. Green seems guilty of the very sin with which he charges established print media.
Second, local, not national, is sometimes highly valuable. For all the crowing of bloggers, I've yet to see one offer what a decent daily newspaper's arts pages -- and ONLY a decent daily newspaper's arts pages -- do. One-stop access to a wide variety of guidance to local arts. There are theater blogs, visual arts blogs, and so forth. But to be able to staff a full-range of local guidance generally requires, well, a local staff. This may well happen in the future (or as is the case, newspapers may simply transfer themselves to the web in some altered form, although one hopes with more savvy than they've been demonstrating).
And just to disagree with Andras for a moment: I don't think newspapers are so obviously headed for extinction just yet. Their current troubles have more to do with the departure of advertisers pursuing the same, narrow demographic and the shortsighted greed of owners looking to maintain their 30 percent profit margins by gutting staff than it has to do with any wholesale loss of value.
Posted by at May 15, 2006 8:02 AM