Of course people are discussing some of the same things as we are in other parts of the net. In this occasional series, I’ll be posting links for, and clips from, the more interesting points of intersection.
Judging by a report in last Sunday’s New York Times by Virginia Heffernan, one specialist in new media analysis at that newspaper, our BaronCharlus wouldn’t get much sympathy from her for his declaration of non-compliance with the trend for authors and other creators to dabble in new media – despite this rather endearing explanation for it:
For personal reasons I hope print, or at least the untampered written word, survives. One of the reasons I settled on fiction was its reliance on those little black marks to do all the work. [. . .] I don’t want to have to learn film editing, programming, hyperlinking just to tell a story that I could have once used only my imagination for. Perhaps its time to be left out on the glacier.
No, we don’t want you frostbitten on a big ice cube, BaronC. We’d prefer to read your ‘Yes, Virginia, there really are some of us who can’t be bothered . . .’ rebuttal of the arguments she lists.
This old-media response to the new alternatives just won’t hold water, she says:
If a story, image, film or report is compelling enough [. . .] it will [. . .] flourish on any platform, dominate every sport. By this logic, creators, producers, artists and journalists should attend only to producing great work and leave the current changes in the distribution and display of information to nerds in suits.
She tells us that her realistic old-media colleagues know that it’s bloggers über alles – and are ready to come out with their hands up:
And if it’s the afterthought message boards [read: blogger commentary] — the ones moderated by interns — that draw all the traffic, why are we in old media pouring so much money and time into “main event” programming that goes unread and unviewed?
This is why the differences between Sean Murray’s video plug for John the Revelator and John Le Carré’s for his new book amount to a how-to (and how not-to) tutorial:
We have to develop content that metamorphoses in sync with new ways of experiencing it, disseminating it and monetizing it. This argument concedes that it’s not possible to translate or extend traditional analog content like news reports and soap operas into pixels without fundamentally changing them. So we have to invent new forms. All of the fascinating, particular, sometimes beautiful and already quaint ways of organizing words and images that evolved in the previous centuries — music reviews, fashion spreads, page-one news reports, action movies, late-night talk shows — are designed for a world that no longer exists.
. . . But a Philip Hensher column in today’s Independent
on the same subject shows a member of the old guard grimly fighting his corner:
Last week, the much-loved and greatly admired literary editor of The Daily Telegraph, Sam Leith, was unexpectedly sacked. There is no sign that the Telegraph is planning to get rid of the books pages, although Private Eye has reported that he was told that his job was now “otiose”. Nevertheless, at a party to launch the new online Book Club of The Spectator, there were plenty of people prepared to venture that the books pages, in their traditional form, had had their day. The future belonged to bloggers and the view, taken en masse, of the reviewer on amazon.com.
Bloggers cannot, must not, be allowed to take over, he insists:
What the books pages offer, I think, is some guarantee of expertise, and some guarantee of responsible disinterest. Neither is total, of course.
There is a place [. . .] for expertise and experience to speak out in a critical fashion, and that place, I think, is going to continue to be the books pages of newspapers. [. . .] If not, you’ll miss them when they’re gone, I promise you.
Nor has he apparently seen that both Beale, a blogging academic critic, and a blogger-opinionator and short story writer, StevenAugustine , display ‘product testimonials’ from the same leading literary scholar, James Wood, at the very top of their home pages (look to the right on the Beale site).