But First, A Blog?

Over the past three years I have talked a couple hundred people into blogging. While I’ve never considered ArtsJournal itself a blog, it does satisfy one reason to blog – pointing readers towards interesting things elsewhere on the web, and I think of the skein of these stories as a curated conversation about culture and ideas.
There’s been an explosion in the number of blogs about culture in the past two years; now it seems like there’s a blog about almost anything you could imagine. So why add to it with another one? I’ll let you know when I have a better answer, but for now, I’d say that in my daily assembling of ArtsJournal, I see lots of connections between stories that I find interesting. Sometimes I’d like to make those connections more explicit than the fact that I’ve chosen them for AJ.
This week is ArtsJournal’s seventh birthday; by my rough calculation, we’ve posted links to just over 49,000 stories in that time. Considering we post about one story for every 35 we look at, that’s an awful lot of reading and trying to make connections.
We’re living at a time when we have more access to more culture than ever before. This means a dizzying number of choices not only for consumers but also for artists and producers. It also may mean that the ways we make, distribute and use culture may have to be rethought. Business models that have been successful in supporting the production of movies, music, TV, books, and theatre may have to be reinvented. As they are, our relationships with culture will change.
This makes for uncertain times if you’re a producer of “content”. But it also makes it a fascinating time to be an observer of culture. It is in these periods of big change that cultural journalism is at its most interesting; it is also periods like these that critics have traditionally had their biggest influence. Yet this time arts journalism itself is undergoing many of the same wrenching changes as the larger culture.
A lot has been written about the future of critics in an age when anyone can publish and millions of citizen bloggers find voice. Does this mean the end of traditional critics? No. But the institutions that have supported traditional critics are changing, and, just like the rest of the culture, critics are going to have to reinvent their business models. We have traditionally depended on critics to define their territory, walk the perimeter and report back about what’s new, what’s interesting and how they connect. As the amount of culture we have access to becomes ever more overwhelming we’re going to need people to help us make sense of it. There are some awfully smart people out there trying to do exactly that. One thing I hope to do with this blog is to point you in the direction of some of them, Proust.

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  1. Dave says

    Arts Journal is a pleasure.
    Blogs are an-easy-way-to-post-on-the-web. Nothing more.
    Don't be seduced by breathless endorsement.

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