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May 15, 2006

Twin tracks

by About Last Night

Two things are happening simultaneously in online arts journalism:

(1) A few artbloggers (including Tyler Green and Maud Newton, who are part of this panel, and George Hunka of Superfluities, who is contributing to the comments) have started to be noticed and published by old-media editors.

(2) Most artbloggers remain pure amateurs, writing for love rather than money.

Both kinds of artblogging are interesting and important. In the long run, though, the second kind may prove more significant.

Until very recently, traditional media and the professional writers who publish there were in a monopoly position when it came to the dissemination of critical views. Now they're not. If I read him correctly, Andras thinks the monopoly will eventually reassert itself, albeit in a different form (Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss). I’m not so sure.

One of the things the blogosphere is teaching us is that the world is full of non-professional writers who have compelling things to say, but who in the past lacked the means (or desire) to say them loudly and frequently enough to be heard by a mass audience. Blogs—along with the other new information technologies to which Doug alluded at the start of this discussion, and about which we haven’t yet said much—have changed that.

Larry has it right: “There's a fascinating and crucial tension between traditional and electronic media right now. Can we affect how it plays out?” I think so—but only if old-media editors and publishers start to pay closer and more receptive attention to the culture-changing potential of the new media.

Posted by tteachout at May 15, 2006 8:18 AM


One problem that we constantly stumble across when talking about internet-related developments is that we mistake the term "new media" for "replacement media". I propose that we consider blogs not as part of some evolutionary war, with "old media" mistaken for the neanderthals, but instead consider the internet as parallel media.

If we think of blogs as parallel media, then we can see that it is in the new relations (and relationships) between media in which their importance rests. It's in what these links facilitate and thus create rather than in what they are.

Nobody thought that pamphlets would replace novels, did they?

Posted by: Ben ellis at May 16, 2006 6:04 AM

Ben's quite right. One of the things that's changing (I hope) is that print begins to legitimize the online critical community as the online critical community legitimizes the print world. We bloggers already do that by frequently linking to print criticism and information that we find interesting or worthy of discussion. On the other hand, the online world ...

And I look at the front page of artsjournal.com itself this morning. Of the "Daily Arts News" (and sometimes these links are to essays and reviews, not to news stories exactly), I find of the 18 stories listed 5 links to the New York Times, 5 to the Guardian, and several others scattered among more MSM, including the BBC and Yahoo! ... and absolutely no links to any blogs, which are relegated to their own column on the right hand side of the page. If editors continue to believe that the only issues and stories and opinions worthy of note are to be found in MSM -- even in an online publication like artsjournal.com -- how can the rest of the print world be expected to follow?

Posted by: George Hunka at May 16, 2006 6:44 AM

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