Christie Blatchford caused a minor Toronto Twitter-storm recently with her article “I’m Not Blogging This, Mark My Words” in which she decries blogging as the end of journalism. I’ll leave it to Mathew to piece together what’s wrong with her argument, but let me quickly look at the ‘journalism wasn’t supposed to be a conversation’ line: Blatchford’s assumption here is that journalism is the dissemination of information from the mouths of professionals ‘in the know’. It’s a perspective that assumes the possibility of a singular, unitary version of events, much like a view of history that is underpinned by a belief in ‘one, true narrative’ (you know, the one written by the people who weren’t killed or silenced). The conversation of blogging and comments could be seen in much the same way that historiography is seen as an ‘antidote’ to history. The debate the article sets up is useful, however, because it it highlights both the closed-mindedness of the old guard, but also some of the benefits of a ‘more traditional’ approach to journalism.
Photosynth is an experimental project from Microsoft that makes photographs interactive i.e. you can see parts of a building from different angles or zoom in to certain parts. It unfortunately requires you to install a browser plug-in but it’s worth it – it’s way cooler than my description makes it sound.
The CBC have revamped Radio 2 to try and make it “as interesting and adventurous as what you have on your iPod”. Um, great, but if that’s your aim, why wouldn’t I just keep listening to my iPod? How about you play to your strengths i.e. the communal, shared experience of radio or using an established community to push podcasting further into the mainstream?
A good, unabashedly leftist take on the recent spate of articles on ‘the hipster’. “The hipster is, and always has been, a demographic for consumption and symptomatic of modern capitalism: we must not get confused between the images we are sold, and real, active sites of cultural resistance.” The sincerity almost sounds naive, until, for a brief, fleeting moment, you remember that there might actually be something beyond resigned irony.
The videogame/art exhbit, Invaders!, raised some hackles: it’s a riff on Space Invaders that has you defending against a wave of ‘alien’ spaceships that are destroying the World Trade Centre towers. Yes, that World Trade Centre. But the interesting part is that, no matter what you as the player do, you fail. The towers burn and come crashing down. As you play the game, a video screen loops clips of Taxi Driver, Die Hard, Independence Day and other similar films. It’s things like this that make me constantly reassert that the involvement of the viewer/reader/player opens up a myriad of possibilities of artistic expression and experience that goes somehow beyond reader-response theory or post-structuralist approaches to meaning as provisional, temporary, subjective, constrained. This example is stark and controversial but this is precisely thing we need to have people start taking the form seriously. [Update: No, this doesn't challenge post-structuralist approaches to meaning; I don't know what I was yapping about. All I meant was that the classic literary-academic response to this is 'well, the reader is always involved in producing meaning'. Yeah, of course, but that doesn't entirely capture what's going on in something like Invaders!"] [Update 2: If you think of a film like No Country for Old Men or a novel like Foucault's Pendulum, you could argue that they work in a similar way to this game/exhibit. But I think the question to ask is whether there is an experiential - and therefore cognitive and emotional - difference to being a 'player' versus a reader or viewer.]
I’ve been digging indie-pop group The Go Find lately, who I heard of through one of Diana Kimball’s tweets. They’re sunny but sorta’ melancholy, which suits me just fine. This song, “New Year”, is one my recent faves.
Totally random Anita Desai quote from “Royalty”: “They sat there a while, breathing deeply. Beside them a small cricket began to chirp and chirp, and after some time it was no longer light that came spilling down the hill, but shadows.”