The Best Blogs of 2009

Oh, as if I wasn’t gonna’ link to this.

So, some smart people – some of whose work I read religiously and really like – got together and talked about the best new blogs of the year. It makes for a fun read, particularly because you immediately get the sense you’re listening to informed people treating the form with care, respect and insight.

As I read it, what struck me as both odd and funny was that, in a sense, ‘blogs’ seem almost passe. Don’t mistake me – it’s not that they’re either unimportant or dying. It’s just that the term no longer captures the zeitgeist in the way it once did. A blog is just another form of publication or communication.

But far from being something sad, to me that seems like cause for hope. After all, it’s at that point that a form stops being a sign for an age that it becomes able to engage with that time without only descending into constant meta- self-reflexivity. Remember years ago, when we all breathlessly chatted about what blogging was and what it was not? That has largely ended. And with that, the cultural force of the form is growing as it starts to turn its critical gaze away from itself and, instead, uses that capacity for meta-commentary – for that constant deconstructive semantic multiplicity enabled by both hyperlinking and the overwhelming glut of context –  to engage with the world in a hyper-critical, innovative, rhizomatic way.

The list contains some blogs I talk about here – Slaughterhouse 90210, Hilobrow etc. – and some that I don’t. But I l also love that Rex takes the opportunity to go on about Tumblr. It’s a platform or site or whatever the fuck it is that I also can’t shut up about (here, here, here). But this idea is great:

Tumblr’s make-or-break premise was always that the semi-closed platform (insular, secular, participatory) would eventually make a deeper connection than the open online systems (cosmopolitan, egalitarian, populist) powered by Feedburner and retweets. Whereas anyone can read blogs or tweets, tumbling nearly demands participation.

That’s a key element that I’ve missed, as I’ve largely given up on using Tumblr (though I think I’ll be heading back there) and have instead remained a voyeur to the mad exchange of aesthetics and desire that drive the community. I also love that Rex picks Mad Men Footnotes as the paragon of Tumblrdom, particularly the way it makes that it’s-so-Tumblr move of collapsing nostalgia, history, aestheticism and immediacy. That’s still what I love so much about Slaughterhouse 90210, my personal pick for the site that best captures the weirdness of Tumblr. Slaughterhouse too does that thing where it conflates a historical timeline into a messy, always contemporary, singular pile, aesthetically and ideologically reframing both the pop culture artefacts from ‘the present’ and the quotations from ‘the past’ (also neat: the picture is from the present and the text is from the past).

Anyway, the list is full of good stuff and, like Robin, I love the inclusion of Offworld. Go read! It’s a great resource, but it’s also a great way to see how blogging as a form is approached by those who live and breathe it. Oh, also, Joanne Mcneil (who has SEVEN HUNDRED AND FORTY-NINE FEEDS in her GReader! 749!) includes Snarkmarket which, as if you couldn’t guess, would be up in my top three fave blogs of the year (the other two probably being Slaughterhouse and Hilobrow).

Slaughterhouse 90210: The Promise of Tumblr

As a cultural phenomenon, Tumblr fascinates me. Perhaps more than anything, it’s the way that the platform seems to have developed its own culture that intrigues me most. Due to the incredibly slow nature of print, however, my thoughts on it still won’t be out for a few weeks. In the meantime though, I wanted to share my favourite Tumblr ever: Slaughterhouse 90210.

The premise of Slaughterhouse 90210 is simple: each post is a screenshot of a popular TV show or film paired with a quote from classic literature or philosophy. The results are sublime.

At times, they are delightfully unexpected and profound, reframing both halves of the pairing in novel and provocative ways:

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At others they are more subtle, but no less evocative:

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