Photo gear aficionados:
“Predicted evolution of the web.” 10 years of Web 2.0? The thought of even one more year of rounded corners and primary colors leaves me a little queasy. Neeeeext ... ?
Declutter your desk.
Bloody damned brilliant. I’m going to do this, as soon as I get the second coat of paint in the office.
NY Times Travel:
NY Times Magazine:
Her autistic brothers. Read this one.
NY Times Sunday Book Review:
Refuting the stereotype that great artists must be mentally ill. And more.
NY Times Art:
The messy relationship between bloggers and politicians. This is a teaching moment, I think. Perhaps I am not the best to do so, but I’ll try anyway.
In the earliest days of weblogging, the weblog communities themselves [ETP, Blogger] softly enforced ‘best practices.’ When I first began, I remember posting a somewhat sensational link, and making an idiotic snark to force commentary into my empty discussion area. A cascade of webloggers showed up to say, “Look carefully at what you said. Imagine the kind of reader you’re attracting. Is this the audience you want? Is this all you want to do with your weblog? Do you ever want to be taken seriously?” I believe Jason did me this favor six or so years ago by phrasing it in such a way that it got through my thick skull. My early discussion archives are long gone, unfortunately. Whoever did me the favor, I will always be grateful for that comment.
We’re too big a universe now to be able to encourage good behavior in this fashion. Even a middlingly popular weblogger, in today’s high traffic terms, will have faithful defenders to fend off even the most well-meaning critique. A good example is about the only tool with which we can teach, and because of this, many of the current crop of leading lights leaves me dispirited. There’s a responsibility with being popular, and linking other blogs ... a responsibility to first and foremost, reinforce good weblogging habits.
Snark is a stage of climbing the learning curve of being a good weblogger. Too many are stuck in it permanently and consider it their ‘style.’ It’s not a style. The road leads beyond this attention-seeking limbo, with greater rewards ... rewards not calculated by mere hits alone. Snark is like a bird flu in the metacosm, and everyone would be better off without catching the malady. Reinforcing stereotypes is not biting commentary, name-calling increases noone’s understanding. Vulgarity really has no place, except perhaps in extremity of circumstance. And purposely increasing the magnitude of the false dichotomy between conservative and liberal for personal gain is doing humankind injustice; most of us hold many opinions that cross the lines between Republican and Democrat, and spread across the spectrum of religions. Does this unappreciated but very real majority have room in your weblog, or the weblogs you read, weblogs groaning under a load of snarks? Are you feeding a desire for knowledge, or merely playing the role of another jester of sensationalism?
Bottom line, If you want weblogs taken more seriously, take your weblogging seriously.
Never erase your archives. If you’re frightened, take your site offline instead, letting your audience know why, and take a breather. We ‘old schoolers’ always had the rule, after you hit ‘post’, you never change the post. People read it, link it, comment upon it in that original state. If you change it afterwards, you are destroying your integrity as a weblogger. That rule has gotten looser as more writers hit weblogs; revision is an essential tool for good writing. This is an important sea-change in weblogging philosophy, that affects our accountability, and we need to have a metacosm-wide discussion about how to deal with this issue.
In addition, too many of the newer webloggers have no recognition of our common history, the archetypes of their particular style of weblogging. This too needs remedying. There are clear stages of weblogging, and we need to get the newbies over the dangerous humps as smoothly as possible. We also need to educate the readers, so they know a good weblog when they see it, how to dig through archives to find whether a particular weblogger is being consistent in opinion, or not.
I see this as being ‘our’ problem, not the Edwards’ bloggers’ problem. They took the route to Dictionopolis [“The Phantom Tollbooth”], and found they had to eat their words. Everyone who writes a weblog eventually eats their words. We need to make sure everyone who starts and maintains a weblog understands that fact.
Now we’re all telling these webloggers, “You should have chosen a tastier speech.”
Yes, but perhaps we should have shown them how, much earlier, by making our process crystal clear, pointing out the detours and potholes, describing our history, and recording it all for posterity.
London Review of Books:
On Pythagoras. A closer look at this rather angular individual.
Boom in the Mountains Creates a Housing Shortage. When I worked in Big Bend, in ‘78, we slept in huts bought surplus from the Manhattan Project, little squares with green tar paper roofs. They stayed mostly dry, but didn’t protect from the local critters. Woke up one morning with a tarantula drinking sweat from my chest. Entertaining, waking up in that manner ...
SF New Mexican:
State senate OK’s concealed guns in alcohol package sale stores. This is going to get interesting. Convenience stores are magnets for robbers. Will this discourage such criminal behavior, or gift us with semi-weekly shootouts?
Open Photography Forums:
NY Times, The Lede:
Ending a Tradition That Some Find Racist, Others Noble. If anyone thinks this is ‘noble’, they need a serious reality check: to go to a real powwow [play it loud]. The use of the word ‘noble’ is on purpose, of course ... harking back to Rousseau. But in the words of a native, “Who wants to be another man’s ‘noble savage’?”
outfit EditGrid looks like a worthy competitor to Google. Much more program-like.
Two science items from CNN ...
NY Times Books:
Dear Dan Brown, All Eyes Are on You. I thought “Da Vinci Code” was poorly written, but then, I expect most mass-market novels to be formulaic. Still, I enjoyed it. They really shouldn’t pick on dear old Dan personally. He’s one of many. How many romance novels are there? Mysteries that are only footnotes to Conan Doyle? The favorite whipping-boy of book reviewers prior to Dear Dan was Peter Mayle, and “A Year in Provence.” Where would Frances Mayes’ Tuscany books be, without the archetype? And hundreds of others, now. Ultimately, we all hope Dan’s technique improves with repeated use, and becomes a better archetype of his genre.
Globe and Mail.CA:
U.S. report calls for limitations on TV violence. “In general, what the commission’s report says is that there is strong evidence that shows violent media can have an impact on children’s behaviour and there are some things that can be done about it.” You think? It is the depiction of violence without consequences, such as people walking away from bullet wounds, that hurts children most. In the absence of other evidence, they will end up believing what they see, in some fashion.
NY Times Art & Design:
Let’s have some fun this morning. I want you to go here, and look at the paintings. Then read this, about the philosophy behind abstract art. There’s an implication here that one must appreciate the purposeful choice of transcending reality, foregoing realistic detail for pure color, line, shape ... feeling and emotion. Another says context must be known and appreciated, to appreciate abstract, and towards the end defends the medium by showing us abstract artists are usually also artists of great realistic skills. The artist must be knowingly making a statement.
So what of this?
She has no training to speak of, and no context. Doing a Pollock piece without his angst, should be worthless by the above measures. Unless it’s a depiction of female toddler angst, which, given the Pollock priapic style [scroll down to Pollock’s entry], is missing something rather essential.
What is she? An artist, a child, a good copyist? Is her work valuable, or not? Is the work’s value exclusive of her value, or the obverse?
I used to have a quandary I’d pose to my assistants and their friends, all from prominent art schools in Manhattan: What of those brilliant abstracts you’d find when your film came back from the lab? The first image from your average roll of film, usually snapped while winding the film into the camera. Abstract, colorful (orange from processing, usually), the height of spontaneity. Some would end up quite impressive in their uncontemplated expression. If that image is ‘great’, does abstract need education? Technical skill? Intent? If this random image is making a statement that was not precontemplated, is it still great abstract art? Should we appreciate it, or should it be shuffled off to the category of ‘unintentional art’, as if to say, “it’s okay to like it, but one must be effusive only over critically approved intentional work”?
I never got a consistent answer on this from my assistants. Most said it was art, but less than intentional art. Even if the result was more compelling. Some would split hairs over who was doing the creating. If it was an artist who was trained through art schools, it was art. If from uneducated talents, it ‘didn’t count.’ Then I’d ask about the cave paintings at Lascaux, which everyone thought was art. Bringing that sensibility back, then those who disagreed about uneducated talent would pull back on their opinion. They’d all settle on the idea that education didn’t matter for that rare great natural talent, that education might ruin the gift.
We’d dive into these questions:
Is it better to feign a childlike perspective, or is it better to actually be a child, and paint what you feel? If it’s better to be childlike, then why ‘ruin’ them with training at all? A pretty even split of opinion, in discussion.
Are we supposed to appreciate abstract because the realist who painted it so fully traded their learned talents for childlike instinct? Why not just celebrate children’s art? Ah, here we got a differentiation. A clear benefit. An adult will pursue complex themes that are unfamiliar to a child.
What is more important, the artist, or the work? Even split, again. The ego of my assistants, young college students, must be factored into this.
And if you didn’t know how a particular image was created ... would it matter? Even split, again.
I made a mistake, however. Do you see it? The essential relationship of artist to audience. In talking to artists, I totally ignored the viewers of the art. The audience must perceive any given piece as being ‘art.’ And what is ‘art’, anyway?
My wife, a RISD grad, has a story she likes to tell about a class in her first year. The instructor told the class to go out to a lumberyard, purchase a 12"x12” piece of wood, and ‘make art’. Some sawed, some painted ... all failed. The instructor told them that art begins in the choice ... they all chose a particular grain pattern, a color shade that appealed to them. In judging the aesthetic of the blank piece of wood, they had already created a personal statement of ‘art.’ They should have just handed him the wood, unadulterated.
So, in viewing the original link above, let me know if you saw ‘art.’ For the record, I did. I just thought I’d throw a snake in the grass on a calm, peaceful day of weblogging and spur a different sort of Friday thinking, when most ‘thinkers’ are probably pretty well wiped out.
Here are some links to spur more contemplation:
Histories of Internet Art: Fictions and Factions, Net Practice, “not art.”
Derek Powazek, “Unintentional Art.”
Ironic Sans, The Art of 1010 Wins.
As the Warsaw Crow flies, Where is the Art?
Columbia Alumni Magazine, Found Art, New York, Empire City 1920–1945.
Whiimsky, Inc., The subconscious art of graffiti removal.
Princeton University, The Art of Science.
What’s Left: Proving art is in the eye of the beholder.
NY Times Letter to the Editor:
NY Times Business:
Home Prices Fall in More Than Half of Nation’s Biggest Markets. When they say “southwest” you can bet Phoenix, Arizona is their target. My impression from the realtors I’m working with here in Santa Fe, is that sellers are getting nervous about all the bubble talk, and are being more flexible on pricing. I’d say ‘soft’ would be the best term for the local situation.