McSweeney’s Quarterly

Short Blog #7

I began this project with hopes of trailing slightly away from researching only within Facebook and, thus, started searching profiles through Twitter. Upon Twitter, longtime followers and advocates can be traced more easily than within Facebook communities, as people post, reply, or retweet statements, publications, features, and networks within their short and concise, 140 character tweets. Through hashtags (#helpful), which allow people to follow certain topics that are currently trending, we are able to follow specifically what we want. Twitter gives us a full display of each profile’s tweets, including an archive of past tweets, thus offering the “what you see is what you get” mentality of a no hidden attachment sign-up. On Facebook, it’s often irritating to “like” something or befriend a page  that, once you sign up, you are sent an eyesore of event invites to places that you’d never go to, let alone never heard of. This said, even though Twitter is a bit harder to maneuver and lacks the visual appeal of seeing familiar faces upon Facebook, I feel that it offers just as much as the notorious Book, as news becomes plainly stated…or is this a counterargument to my previous post, and is Twitter part of why humans are becoming less “literary”?

To further explore Twitter’s networked connections I began by looking at the Poetry Foundation’s Twitter, which currently has 13,078 followers. The Poetry Foundation is a highly extensive site that offers information about the poetry culture in primarily the Western World. The site offers articles, news, book reviews (offering lists of the top five best sellers in categories such as contemporary, anthology, children’s literature, and small press titles), and links to poetry resources, national programs (including Poetry Out Loud), and a blog (Harriet the Blog) that features articles concerning the literary world of poetics. Founded in 2003, the Poetry Foundation website came out of the Modern Poetry Association (founded in 1941), and was able to expand due to what they state on their “About” page as being a “large gift” (what I assume to be a donation) from a woman by the name of Ruth Lily, and states that they stand as a 501c3 foundation that accepts donations in order to progress the literary and poetic culture, everywhere. They further that they wish to shift the view of poetry from being a marginal view in today’s culture, stating, “the Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry”. The masthead of the site consists of over fifteen individuals, and invites writers from everywhere to contribute (in perusing I found CU’s own Julie Carr as a contributor). The Poetry Foundation is planning on entering the “real world” with the advent of a new building in downtown Chicago which plans to open in June of this year. As for their involvement in the digital community, the Poetry Foundation is highly active on Twitter (tweeting 20 times only yesterday), and has a fan base of 21,360 people on Facebook. The most recent tweets include promotion of the site itself, and are links to recently published articles in so that it’s followers are currently up to date.

The Poetry Foundation follows Writing Women, which spotlights roles of women in the literary world, past and present. Writing Women’s Twitter page has a following of 2,926 individuals (the large majority of them most likely being women), all of which the profile actively engages with in consistent tweets (tweeting 8 times yesterday). Most recent tweets include “Where do your Good Will donations really go?”, with an attached article and slide show concerning the beneficiaries of our donations, and a second tweet regards an article entitled, “Deliver Me From Filmmaking”, a memoir featured on talkingwriting.com. With a mission statement of “good writing requires much more than physical strength” upon the top of their profile, Writing Women unfortunately does not have a link to a personal website (and they’re unsearchable on Google); instead, they offer a link to Writing in Public’s website which they state that they are affiliated with. Though the authors remain anonymous, it appears that the genre of Writing Women’s tweets include topics surrounding women in any form of the finer arts, and spotlight the work that women writers have done in the past. Their profile photo is a painting of Virginia Woolf, thus sending the message that their inspiration comes from women, like Woolf, who write for truth and of “moments of being”.

Writing Women is followed by Poetry Out Loud, which is a national organization that is partners with the National Endowment for the Arts, The Poetry Foundation, and State Arts Agencies. Within Twitter, Poetry Out Loud has 2,075 followers, and a following of 1,683 fans upon Facebook. Poetry Out Loud appears to be very closely aligned with the Poetry Foundation, and one can understand the mission of both, when viewing Poetry Out Loud’s website, as both are striving to place poetry and writing on a level of  greater understanding and appreciation amongst the masses by promoting it through younger generations. When searching “Poetry Out Loud” upon YouTube, one can see the growing numbers of participants and views, as the program has finally dug its heels in. Starting with pilot programs in Washington DC and Chicago, Poetry Out Loud was begun in 2006 with tens of thousands of high school students participating. Finals occur every April, just in time for the school year to wrap up, giving students a chance to work on recitation for the year’s length.

From Poetry Out Loud, I found the New York Observer, who also follows the Poetry Foundation and subsequently follows many similar interests of mine concerning design schools on the East Coast. I constantly look at the Observer’s profile because it offers information about schools such as Pratt, Parsons, FIT, and RISD, and the upcoming seminars, projects, and courses being offered. After first following the Observer, however, I found that the actual website reads similarly to the New York Times, offering a myriad articles and topics from Media, to Culture, to Politics, to Technology. The page offers editorial articles from a staff of authorial specialists in each category, inviting the reader to return to the page each day for consistent news of the topic of their liking.

Writing in Public, which is followed by, and follows, the Poetry Foundation, is also followed by McSweeney’s as well as Poetry Out Loud. Their website states the following:The mission of Writing in Public is to promote the art of the essay across boundaries and borders, showcasing a diversity of innovative and thoughtful essays in English (or in translation) from independent, online journals around the world.” One can see where Writing Women, who appears to worship Virginia Woolf, queen of the essay, would be associated with Writing in Public, as many essays and research pieces by women today are in dire need of publication in the densely saturated world of publication. The page states that it supports creative ideas outside of mainstream media, which, plainly put, translates to mean that they think outside of the box. They have a submissions application, as well as a contact through which one can request to list their own journal, thus knitting a closer web of online publications and getting them all into the same tide-pool.

McSweeney’s is Dave Eggers’ publishing house. With almost 91 thousand followers, McSweeneys has made itself a cult-following for those who, like myself, are curious and perhaps obsessed with the creative outlets through which McSweeney’s promotes itself. Based out of San Francisco, McSweeney’s fan-base appears to be one that loves creative popular culture, as the profile is tweeting about once every five hours about topics of just that. Their most recent tweets include, “If the Beach Boys Had Lived In Great Britain” and “Mission Street Food”. Though many of the tweets of McSweeney’s appear to be far less literary than those of The Poetry Foundation or Margaret Atwood, the page’s following, which trails back to  a worship of Dave Eggers, himself, states that “literary” perhaps concerns more than what the traditional meaning originally strove for.

And, finally, is Margaret Atwood. Though she does not follow McSweeney’s (something which I find admirable), she does follow the Poetry Foundation, and is followed by ABOUTAWORD, Writing in Public, and the Poetry Foundation. Atwood has a following of 153,948 followers, and appears to actively engage with those who tweet to her, as at the current moment it appears that she is responding to them, one by one. Though she’s not in conversation with all of them, one can see the kind-heartedness of her engagement with the digital world, which makes me appreciate her presence upon Twitter that much more than pop icons who have publicists handling social media for them. Her page offers a link to her most recent book, Year of the Flood, which gives a breakdown of Atwood’s works, as well as her involvement elsewhere in the literary space. When looking at her Twitter profile, Atwood has mutual follow-ee’s to myself, as she also follows the grotesque writer Neil Gaiman. Her involvement within the literary community extends far past only highbrow literature, as her work also takes shelter in lesser-known presses such as Gigantic Sequins, or Writing Women’s archives.

Advertisements

Short Blog #6: FB Networks, Literature, and Art

In the following assessment, each of the presented blogs have Social Media outlets of Facebook, Twitter, or linked connections to blogs within their area of presented information. Whether it be photography, interior design, fashion design, music, online literary publications, or restaurant reviews, each site has accurately accessed outlets such as Twitter and Facebook to hone in on a particular demographic for proper advertising and expansion. Such networking allows each blog to publicize itself in a manner that reaches out to a desired demographic. Each site includes RSS feeds, a “follow on Twitter” link, as well a method of RSS subscription; each of these I suppose is now included as a widget on even the simplest blog templates with the currently exponentially rising technology of the “web”.

1. Trend Robot: Trend Robot is a music blog out of Denver that is run by a very ambitious individual who is highly involved in the Denver music scene. The site claims to use “First Amendment rights as a basis for reviewing and streaming music” (if you don’t remember this amendment you’d better go back to social studies…). The site’s mission is to promote artists, both local and further away from the Metro Area, who are up and coming and don’t have the budget to forgo the investment/expenses of marketing themselves, or are new enough that they are just coming onto the music scene. As the blog states, “All posts include links to respective iTunes store pages, Myspace pages, official artist pages and other sources of support.  Please support the artists that we review and critique…” one can tell that the forefront of the site’s mission is to get people listening to new, great music that this site feels is reputable enough to promote in such a forthright manner. Noting their mission, however, the staff at TrendRobot stands at a completely respectable and democratic stance in stating that “Any requests to remove music from the site will be respected immediately and without hesitation.” Not only does this statement place the staff in a position of absolute moral respect, however, proves that they DO listen to their readers, as many of us assume that the blogger will not, as it is a means for them to express their personal opinion and solely that. The blog is updated, at the very least, bi-weekly, and the posts are consistently professional, yet varying in content and not repetitive with an “insert artist here” format.  Each post offers a sample track of the band that is spotlighted, and TR’s author’s taste truly comes through in the style and genre of each song. TrendRobot’s Twitter is updated regularly, offering information on new album releases, upcoming show dates and venues, and selected playlist tracks. One of TR’s most recent tweets is a statement about starting a newsletter with promo downloads, MP3’s, and upcoming shows.  Further, TrendRobot’s Feed offers direct downloads of music files, so, if you subscribe, you can instantly access the link to download music if you don’t have the time to read. This blog is chalk-full of personality and a classy, yet simple, visual appeal; along with the site, TR’s Twitter is consistent with the blog’s tone, as one can see that quite a bit of thought has been put into both constructing the site, as well as properly marketing it.

2. Witness-This: I fell upon Witness-This when a familiar and local face was featured on their site and a friend posted the article on her Facebook. I clicked on the link and immediately fell in love with the site logo/title, as the graphics effect a powerful sense of ambition by the staff that read somewhere along the lines of change, progress, and current artistic endeavors in our culture; along with the title, the icon emphasizes something of the cosmos. Something empyreal. The site has a simple approach: along the left, a column with eight pages stands beneath the site logo. The eight pages include: Home, Art, Motion, Still, Style, Sound, The Streets, Genius, and Contact. Along the left, the feed of most recent posts scrolls to reveal Witness-This’s most recent literature. Like Trend Robot, Witness-This includes music coverage; however, the music coverage here stands on a much larger level as it covers albums outside of Denver and upcoming shows such as SXSW. Under each categorized page, as you can infer, the topics vary from fashion to photography, and the “Genius” category spotlights undeniably talented artists. Again, like TrendRobot, lesser-known but up and coming artists are spotlighted for their creativity and skill. Though Witness-This does not have a Twitter, they do have a Facebook page which one can “like” as well as share with their Facebook friends. The diversity of this page definitely makes it a note-worthy page, as the included art doesn’t follow your typical hipster’s graphic design.

3. The Fox Is Black: The Fox Is Black is the new project of Kitsune Noir’s Bobby Solomon. On  Twitter you can follow Solomon and his latest endeavors with The Fox Is Black, including new graphics features and websites– cool things for techy people. Solomon states in his bio that he started TFIB in 2007 as a means of sharing products and concepts that he came across. I thought this was such a great site when I discovered it as Kitsune Noir, for it shares art that people have done graphically– the sharing aspect of this field is so important, as it leads to inspired creativity amongst people everywhere. TFIB has five contributors, all living in different areas of the globe from Ireland to Australia to Mississippi, which really promotes the concept that Social Media is a unifying force of communication and sharing. The site includes a “Featured Projects” panel that offers the latest projects of Bobby and other artists. These projects include modern renditions of classic novel covers like Lord of the Flies or The Great Gatsby, a desktop wallpaper project that is unbelievably cool (you can download the wallpapers for free to support the artist of the one you like!), as well as mixtapes, film reviews, and most recently, a “countdown to Radiohead” wallpaper link in honor of their most recent album “The King of Limbs”. TFIB is associated closely with Notcot as both offer designs of artists near and far, accurately promoting their love for the fine arts; both can be found on Twitter and/or Facebook, offering many forms of connection.

4. McSweeney’s Quarterly: McSweeney’s ‘Concerns’ page opens with the following statement: “McSweeney’s began in 1998 as a literary journal that published only works rejected by other magazines.” Now publishing famous authors including Joyce Carol Oates, the site is set up similar to John Michael Rivera’s Shadowbox Magazine of which we saw in class, offering an archive of previous issues. Founded by Dave Eggers, the McSweeney’s Quarterly is an American independent publishing house out of San Francisco, CA and is set up in a fashion that I would argue is similar to that of The New Yorker with inclusions of unique issue cover artwork and featured writers/artists. Though not as incredible online and encouraged to see in real life for each article’s unique formatting, McSweeney’s is a grandiose publication, for it challenges the staff, writers, and readers boundaries of what they consider literature to be. Through this, the blog resituates the concept of the readerly-writerly relationship.  “Each issue of the quarterly is completely redesigned. There have been hardcovers and paperbacks, an issue with two spines, an issue with a magnetic binding, an issue that looked like a bundle of junk mail, and an issue that looked like a sweaty human head,” furthers the site’s Concerns page, and really, the level of artistic ability that they are reaching is absolutely stunning. Above, you can see the most recent issue’s formatting. You can follow McSweeney’s Quarterly on  Twitter and get updates on national education, artwork, current events, artwork, sales, and economics. The site also has a Facebook page that is “likable” and currently has 15,729 fans; along with all of these literary outlets that one can follow, McSweeney’s posts links about other literary outlets throughout the community (though posting and favored by many, the site’s page is not posting daily which I’m sure each fan would love if they did).

5. The Scout: I would argue that The Scout competes on a Junior Varsity level in comparison with the scholarship level ability of such blogs as the New York Times or the Huffington Post. What makes me laugh, though, is the fact that this site, along with Public School, have visual capabilities far beyond what the Huffington Post or Times sections are offering. What the latter two have to offer in terms of content, the former two sites, which most of you probably have never heard of, are wielding weapons of the highest skill in tricks of Javascript, CS5, and coding secrets. The Scout is a site full of a myriad departments of design categories such as art, media, technology, and crafts, and items of leisure in everyday life. The site’s content reminds me of a modernized Arts and Crafts movement that parallels back to the tactile designs from the late nineteenth century movement of art in the United States and parts of Western Europe. The site’s presence ties its digital demographic in a tight knit–creating a community of literary artists and modern expressionists of the digital medium. I started visiting this site out of curiosity of architectural design, and the site offers both current and historical trends of design functions in all sorts of design fields. What sets The Scout apart from your typical hipster art blog is the additional pages of Retail, Dining/Bars, Tours, Features, Videos, and Events in New York. The site offers links to RSS feed and subscriptions, as well as links to follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

In looking at each of these sites, its interesting to try to hegemonically rank them in terms of the best or most efficient and effective. I would argue that of all of the above, McSweeney’s hits the closest home, for it appeals to me most from a literary standpoint. Yet, there are then the art blogs; if we read the art as literature in itself we can see that there is a great reservoir of depth to each of these, and within, say, the photos of the moonboards on the homepage of Witness-This, there exists an anthropological goldmine of revelation that humbles us as individuals; we reach a level where we all can relate to each photo–we all lust for summer rainstorms and the blistering rays of the sun right here and now, as we’re living on the dawn of springtime; we all look at the photo of the Japanese leisure-lovers sitting beneath a dock in sun-chairs that are three inches submerged in water and think of the Tsunami that tore all of that apart.

Something humane exists in every corner of the internet, as though we may be speaking different dialects of art or photo-speak, we all still endure the human experience alike, and are searching for the next thing to tickle our fancy in the infinity of outlets out there that may, or may not, be similar to our patterns of thought. As Jeremy Sarachan states in his chapter “Profile Picture, Right Here, Right Now” of D. E. Wittkower’s book Facebook and Philosophy, the punctum of a photograph, or, in this case, I stand to argue a blog’s visual appeal. Punctum, Wittkower states, is our “immediate focus: what strikes [us] about the photo at first glance, what emotional impact it makes, or what “sticks” with you” (Wittkower 52). As we experience a rush of emotions upon first viewing a site, we each experience individualized emotions, however, as stated above, these emotions are all connecting of the human experience, as our ethos, pathos, and logos come into play.

Also Noteworthy:

Smoke, Don’t Smoke: Another music blog similar to TrendRobot with the intention of sharing and exposing people to new, good, and amazing music.

Fecal Face: Fecal Face is awesome. Follow them on Twitter; you won’t be disappointed. The most absolute compilation of current art from grotesque to neo-post-modernist works, Fecal Face does it right from left to right, and top to bottom.

Public School: This site is not what you think. Believe it or not, it’s a blog based on fine arts, not the public school system in Austin, TX. The blog has a Twitter account that you can follow, as well as a Facebook page to share with friends.