Wednesday, June 27, 2012

End of the First Blogolithic Era


That noise signified that within the past couple weeks, both and have ceased to publish new content. 

What has that got to do with me, you ask? People, we're facing and internet without endless hilarious images of animals being cute, or where you could read art reviews and columns by actual respected art historians and critics. That's all. And what kind of a world is that?

Well, the kind of world that existed 30 years ago. It was a time when we used carbon paper to make copies. (Recently someone over 20 asked me what that was.) Typewriters to write stuff. Wite-Out to correct mistakes. After carbon paper, floppy discs to transfer files, before we had email.

But seriously, it does feel like some sort of epoch has ended, akin to the Paleocene, or Cenozoic (that's ours). Those sites signified institutional funding and support that were beacons to regular old bloggers stuck in the fog, proof that we weren't wasting our time in pursuit of actually getting paid to write this stuff, even if everyone had a sinking feeling that was so.

But apparently every company has its burn-rate limit, and we seem to have reached some sort of milestone there. You can only go so long justifying a few hundred hits a day and maybe a couple of comments. Also, it's just not that simple to continually crank out new content, particularly if your goal is several posts a day or more.

Ironically, the strongest, best respected voices will likely be silenced in this ever-increasing dumbing-down and democratization of information, since they're the ones who are most likely to demand getting paid. Would the Jerry Saltz's of the world write for nothing? Perhaps, but they're in a position to demand pay, or at least occupy column inches that garner a lot of eyeballs, which these days can be a blogger's primary remuneration. In a way, not much has changed since high school. Popularity is power. (That said, I must confess I rarely visited Maybe the web isn't the most organic fit for serious art criticism...?) was a spin-off of a tv show that ended three years earlier, and was owned by VH1. I was addicted to it for its naif voice and dedication to silly animal mashups and listicles. You wouldn't be assaulted by pop-up ads or flash videos or click-throughs. It was a primitive, hideous, linear site with YouTube links and photos and nerdy writers. (However, as I'm taking a screen shot, I had to wait for a flash video of Ted to stop moving. Such is the memory.)

I feel like so many sites exist only to place these little ad opportunities. They bunch phrases and celebrity names together in order to get hits, and no writing actually needs to be done, only a little data input and captions. It's terrifying and soul-crushing. So begins the next phase of the Net. RIP, Artnet and BWE.

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