The NuMu curator was reported to have prefaced that equation with the news that "I just found out about blogs three months ago."
Now there are some snarky gems among the fast and furry-ious responses by my fellow cyber-cynomys, but I always like to give someone who so quickly unites the arts blogosphere against them (no small feat) a second look before I weigh in.
So I gave it some thought. What could it mean that Mr. Flood had found out about blogs only three months ago?
Among other things, it could mean there's a smaller audience for art blogs than most of us think there is. In fact, I'd say there's no question that we bloggers are probably not as widely read as our stats suggest. Just browsing my hit counts I can see that an embarrassing number of "readers" come there accidentally in search of "tasteful nudity" (a post I once did) or other topics they're disappointed to find were mentioned only in passing. Further, I hear all the time from folks, "Oh, yeah, I've read your blog on occasion...it's...uh, it's good...I just don't have that much time to read every day." Or it could mean that Mr. Flood spends more of his time in studios or the museum working than he does surfing for online entertainment, and that it's only when the New York Times reported that the "Skin Fruit" controversy was prompted by bloggers that he took the time to investigate them. Either of these explanations would satisfy me, personally.
But having been made aware of blogs, even if only three months ago, it does seem odd that for someone known for his quick appreciation of the "new," Mr. Flood's take on blogs is so far off. Here's the bit that prompted the headline:
Flood said he was trying to learn more about [blogs] via Lauren Cornell (executive director of Rhizome, affiliated with New Museum since 2003), but he says:I think it's fair to say, if you're new to the arts blogosphere, that the lay of the land takes a bit of time to come up to speed on. Who's dependable, who's merely gossipy, who's taken seriously, who's just good at stirring up debate? Not immediately grasping how it all works is understandable. But it would seem to behoove anyone who's genuinely confused by it all to hold off on such blanket condemnations. Indeed, Lisa Radon dismissed Flood's sloppy summary quite handily:
Blogs are like being out on a prairie and one prairie dog pops up; none of the others can see it, but they can feel the movement in the earth. So another pops up. And another. They are not communicating with each other. They have no idea. History means nothing to them. Truth means nothing to them. They have no mechanism in place for checking [facts].
In the three months since Flood has become aware of blogs, it’s surprising that he appears not to have noticed the hyperlinking that is integral to the blog as a tool for communication. He might not be expected to be aware of the dynamic back-channel communications among arts bloggers via twitter and other platforms, but the linking is front and center. But the analogy shows a more fundamental disdain for the practice of online arts journalism. A blog is just a tool, a platform. It’s what’s built on that platform that we should be talking about, and that may be a gossip rag or it may be considered, rigorous, accurate reporting and/or criticism.On the other hand, Flood's is actually a fitting analogy in the respect that the art blogosphere responds in a prairie-dog-esque way to wholesale attacks. Everyone jumps to attention, quickly scans the horizon, and then moves en masse (Man the keyboards!) to foil the attacker. The unfortunate side-effect to this, however, is that the target of the counter-attack probably goes away even more convinced that the blogosphere is uncivilized.
Indeed, I would hope that the community eventually reaches a confidence by which we calmly invite someone who voices such misguided opinions (and at first misunderstands what it is the arts blogosphere has accomplished in revolutionizing opportunities and participation for a wider audience for contemporary art) to take a virtual tour and see for themselves the value of the online community rather than just snarkily lashing out at them.
I mean, in addition to snarkily lashing out at them, of course. Romping around on the prairie all day is hard work, we do deserve our fun.
Labels: art blogs