Culture & New Media (with a side point on books)

Eoin Purcell

A fine conference (after a fine meal)
There was something great about The New Media. New Audience? Conference run by the Arts Council last week. For one thing it was great to see Charles Leadbeater and Andrew Keen spar (no matter how mildly they did so). We rarely see clashes on such opposed viewpoints and when it refers directly to your own industry it is particularly interesting.

Leadbeater is the optimist and Keen, the somewhat posed pessimist. I say posed because you get the sense that he is in fact a personally shy man who would rather not be gunning up opposition the way he is, except that it sells books & gets him speaking gigs.

Its all about marketing
Which brings me to the over riding message I got from this fine conference. The strongest sense was that most Irish Arts organizations see the best way forward with the web in using it as a marketing tool with an allied with an almost overwhelming lack of clarity on how to do that.

There was an avoidance, especially in my panel session, of any discussion of the web and new media as a way to collaborate or to generate new and different arts. I found this odd until I realised that the vast bulk of the attendees had little exposure to the web as anything more than the home of Google and free content.

And why should they have. The tools of interaction are hardly the most widely advertised. Blogs have a bad pr problem that is only slowly being addressed. People at the panel feared the loss of control when their content went online. They wondered how best to reach audiences across all platforms.

Where does this point us?
There is a real need not for high talk of collaboration and new media, but for solid and basic ways to interact with audiences and potential customers online. It seems after the conference that there is much work to be done and embedding the arts world in the online world in a real and meaningful way.

That is not to say that there are not individuals and organizations with an excellent grasp of how the web can be used and who are working on exciting projects that deliver real and interesting results, just that for the vast majority, the web is not a friendly place!

A very worthwhile conference nonetheless getting people, at the very least, focused on these issues. That can never hurt!

Links of Interest (At Least To Me) 04/07/2008

Eoin Purcell

Kenny’s open a new book store in their new premises. COOL!

A great review of The Making of the Irish Constitution, 1937, by Dermot Keogh and Andrew McCarthy in the DRB. I’m biased, I know, but this is one of the best and most historically valuable books published on the Irish constitution in recent years. It was a delight to be part of the company that brought it to the market.

Sat in the audience for a panel with some people from Bookrabbit on it. Likd what they had to say even if the site itself seems like LibraryThing with less features and a really good e-commerce link up (Which LibraryThing has thanks to its customization: I just need to click a link on a book and it takes me to my preferred bookseller, The Book Depository, Genius)> Oh Andrew Keen was there too.

Links of Interest (At Least to Me)

Eoin Purcell

Macmillan Launches (great name) a site for book lovers which to me seems like simply a new but what do I know. I am beginning to fear a series of walled book gardens with valuable data locked behind walls of different services. Seems a shameful waste of potential. Speaking of social book sites Publishers Weekly has a wonderful review of US sites.

Comics online. DC Comics is launching a new online and off-line imprint for comics From The Bookseller:

The site will accept submissions from the public and viewers can vote on their favorite comics, whose authors will then be offered a year-long contract for web comics and will have their work published in print as well.

“There is an explosion of creativity in web comics,” said Paul Levitz, president and publisher of DC Comics, in a statement. “We want to build a great stage for this new generation of creators to perform on, a solid system for their work to reach audiences online and in print, and for the creators to share in the profits their creations can generate.” DC Comics will pay all winners, including up to six “instant winners” per year, for their work.


And of course, I forgot to link to this announcement by google:

Whenever you find an out-of-copyright book in our index, you’ll see a “View plain text” link, which lets anyone access the text layer of the book. As Dr. T.V. Raman explains on the main Google blog, this opens the book to adaptive technologies such as screen readers and Braille display, allowing visually impaired users to read these books just as easily as users with sight.


Fearing gardens and walls

Some rational thought on “The Cult of the Amateur”

Eoin Purcell

Over at Assignment Zero (A crowd sourcing News initiative which I encourage you to check out separately anyway) there is some good analysis of the debate about amateurs and professionals drawing together a few different schools of opinion and making what is the key point in my view:

But the debate seemed like a red herring to me. Should we only have
professionals doing the media or just let the amateurs have it?

Why is it an “either-or” decision? …..

You can find more here.

Enjoying a relaxing day

The cult the amateur and other nonesense

Eoin Purcell
I have yet to read the book (damned if I’m linking to it), but I will. If I find it is as bad as the author interviews suggest I will say more. If, as I think unlikely, I change my mind I will say so, loudly!

Andrew Keen
It would be very difficult for me to express exactly how angry this guy is making me. He is loudly proclaiming the evils of web 2.0 and blogging while holding out the Main Stream Media some kind of knight in white armour who we have for some obscure reason ignored. He holds out a selection of Straw Men to be shot down with swift blows of little substance and less meaning. He decries the hidden agendas of web 2.0-ers (in this interview he can be heard discounting the value of Wikipedia without admitting that he writes for Britannica Blog [though he does have a link on his own BLOG]

A selection of his quotes from this interview:

    “undermining of authority, undermining of mainstream media, the undermining of expertise”
    “wet dream for pr people . . slippery dishonest pr people”
    “nobody really knows who anybody is”
    “cultural anarchy”
    Anonymity . .
    “nobody knows who anybody is”
    “creating media of spin and lies rumour and innuendo”
    “nobody knows their agenda”

And how is it all going to be paid for:

    “Much of it is advertising”
    “Traditionally you had a clean distinction between content and advertising”

It’s like in his world Main Stream Media isn’t paid for by advertising but by some magic system. Is the journalist somehow immune to the agendas he discusses in this interview? Immune to commercial pressures because between him and the advertiser lie a few managers? Come on.

What annoys me the most is that he is using the very same techniques he derides so snidely to market his own book and campaigns for greater media literacy while ignoring the proliferation of discussion on the web. The reality is that he is a man with an agenda (sell more books) using exactly the same spin tactics he supposedly shuns.

He suggests that the web is somehow responsible for the Bush presidency and the war in Iraq happening (yeah I fear the link escaped me too) and shields the Main Stream Media from criticism on that point too. But what is worse he lambastes the web for undermining authority while earnestly suggesting that one of its failure is that it did not undermine the authority of a sitting president of the United States enough to prevent him going to war? You cannot have it both ways sunshine.

Th truth is that Main Stream Media is embracing the very technologies he abhors (look at CommentisFree)> What is more, had the Main Stream Media been quicker, their dominance of the medium would by now be almost assured, they had the brands to levy, the personalities and resources to deploy, but they failed to react and face now the task of unseating upstarts if they can before they achieve the dominance they have been used too.

Still annoyed at the pomposity of the man, enraged at the fact that such sloppy think might warrant a post but unable to contain the need to post about it

Oh and in case you are afraid I am going off the deep end over one piece list to this one too he does it again here.