Great post by Steve Gilliard on why the "big" blogs (Atrios, Sullivan, etc.) are becoming more popular than established opinion journals, and more successful than sites from the dot-com era. It is relevant to our upcoming panel discussion on blogging and the arts not for its discussion of the profitability of blogs--though there's more to say on that--but rather what makes them "work" as a vehicle for content delivery where the dot-com sites failed and where print journalism seems lagging. Much that he says feels right in the art context, although no clear leader is emerging the way the bloggers he mentions dominate political discussion. That's probably just as well--art would be better served by a network of micro-specialized blogs and a few aggregator sites, as opposed to some uber-critic who had the power to influence careers and sales. It was very disturbing to move to NY almost 10 years ago and discover that NY Times critic Roberta Smith had the ability to sell out shows, and that she and Jerry Saltz were perceived to be the only game in town in terms of an artist's or gallery's financial success. The last thing we should want is a blogger with that kind of influence. As for selling ads, it seems to be working for political blogs to give the writers the autonomy to say whatever the fuck they want, but the same would not be the case with art-related blogs. Galleries don't have much to spend and expect some return on their investment. It's not just about "eyeballs."
well its still about eyeballs to an extent, if you can show a potential advertiser that you have a large upscale readership it could be valuable outside the traditional gallery/magazine revenue model. ive seen the occassional movie pop up on blog ads. no reason an art blog couldnt attract those advertisers assuming it had a sustantial readership. now if you need gallery ads to confer legitimacy on your endeavor thats something else.
i've been toying with the idea of a for-profit art blog. perhaps we can discuss tmw. don't really want to spread the idea far and wide yet as i think it's fairly novel and would like to be the one to strike first. :-)
"i've been toying with the idea of a for-profit art blog" ... yeah me too. But the more I think about it, the more I think that if I was getting paid to do this, I'd rather be editing an online magazine and paying writers. Blog-style makes sense when you don't have obligations to anyone. Getting paid makes sense when you are providing a service. The problem with getting paid isn't about owing your sponsors content, its the opposite: owing your readers some form of objectivity ... which is pretty near impossible when its just one voice all the time.
Blog-style makes sense when you don't have obligations to anyone. Getting paid makes sense when you are providing a service.
Dave, I know what you are saying and you are right, of course. I would say the same to someone who I thought was doing good work that I wanted to see more of (as with both Tom and TWHID). But I don't think you can just toss off all responsibility onto the market. For one thing, getting paid to write, whether you have readers or not, requires lots of boring complicated effort that isn't writing. If only the cheques just appeared in the mailbox in direct proportion to your popularity! I know there's lots of cross-over between "providing a service" and writing without "obligations to anyone." My distinction is personal, I guess, but if I was getting paid to write my blog it would be written differently. I'd be thinking more about what artists I represent and why. I'd be careful to maintain a balance between information and entertainment. I'd be delivering something to the readers that I hope has value for them, rather than pursuing my own tangential and byzantine trains of thought, readers be damned. I'd probably post a lot less dorky animation. It would likely be a much much better blog, as a matter of fact. But I just know for me if I were to start thinking about it on those kinds of terms, I might as well be doing a magazine, not a blog.
i dont mean to be crass but who are you to judge what is valuable or interesting to others. thats what the market is for. as a writer or editor you can try to use your past experience to create content that you think others may find valuable but ultimately the consumer will decide with its pocketbook.
"i dont mean to be crass but who are you to judge what is valuable or interesting to others." ... good point. But there is a certain amount of self-editing that happens no matter what, this is just a matter of degree.
i tried to qualify my statement about what is valuable by drawing a distinction between the critical use of the term and its purely economic sense. obviously, i think somethings value resides mostly in its utility or quality, but its value as a commodity isnt necessarily bound to its intrinsic worth.