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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.

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#Twitterati

urban dictionary defines “Twitterati”:

1.” The Tweet elite, whose feeds attract thousands of followers and whose 140-character spews capture the attention of the rapt who doggedly monitor them.”

2. “I get tweets from westsaddle all the time. He’s like a member of the twitterati.”

3. “A combination of twit (an insignificant, bothersome person) and glitterati (social elites). The twitterati is a group of gay men that are not important, but think they are. Members of the twitterati are usually pretentious and preppy, well-groomed and snotty. Depending on where you live and what social class they are trying to attain, members of the twitterati will either bore you with the latest news on Paris Hilton and Britney Spears or go on and on about their up-and-coming career in opera or their plans to have a penthouse in Manhattan. Can be used collectively, or to address individual members within a twitterati group as a whole.”

Short Blog #1: Interacting With the Digital Community: An Internet Nihilist’s Nightmare

As much as I hate to admit it, I am a creature of extreme habituality and fear change like the apocalypse. I know that the Internet is a signifier of modernity and synonymous with “the future”; I know that smart-phones are our future, and that they predict that we will all carry some sort of hand-held hard-drive that can make/take calls and translate Dutch to Mandarin within the next fifty years of our lives. But, for some reason, I cannot cope with the concept of cyberspace and I think that it has something to do with the intangibility of it all. My day is an eternal return of routine and the thought of checking forms of Internet communication on top of ritual sounds horrifically distracting yet so tempting all at once. I can’t help but think of all of the fascinating people out there that are interested in the same things I am. Perhaps I am one of those material-modernists that Virginia Woolf complained of in A Sketch of the Past. Yet, today, is that not an oxymoron, as today’s “modern” is so closely aligned with sustainability or finding stability without consumption of materials? Perhaps I am merely a wistful romantic. I still check books out from the library because I like the way they smell, and the thought of all of the people who have had them on their nightstand, travel bag, on the bus/subway, or read them to children or lovers. I love hand-writing letters, cards, or notes to friends in the same city—what is more exciting than to receive something in the mail? I subscribe to the New Yorker and still get the NYTimes Sunday edition in the mail because there is something endearing about combing through five hundred pages of random articles every week. I’m sorry, trees, but I love the smell of newsprint.

This morning I woke up with 27 emails from Twitter on my beloved Blackberry that now feels tainted with commercial spam. All I could think upon opening them was,  “Well, that was smart. Pandora’s Box has been unearthed. Might as well get back on that god-for-saken Gilt website that sent you 12 emails a day about sales that nobody can afford. I’ve now given in to the concept of the “blog”. I now have a Twitter account, a Facebook account, and a Google reader. I now have two email accounts am getting an unnerving number of updates because I don’t exactly know how to turn them off and am too lazy to do so, because how often will I really be checking all of these? Who are you @thefashionwitch and @AltsoundsFeed1? Why are you following me? I’ve only “Tweeted” five times… about nothing at that. Are you a spy? Are you going to come to my house? Oh my god my phone line is probably tapped right now, can you see me right now?”

I always avoided digital communication because verbal discourse has always held a place in my heart. I’ve always preferred calling friends over texting, and detested email communication. For some reason it just didn’t feel real. I had a Facebook in high school but had deactivated it up until the first of this year, as friends wanted photos from the adventures of the year passed. Upon deleting it I instantly remembered why I didn’t have it in the first place–that unspoken competition and ability to make anyone feel insecure in the world of Facebook has an addicting quality, and who REALLY knows all of their 700 friends? I figured why not talk to those most important to you in person?

I guess my main apprehension with Internet communication is that it seems intangible and places a strong threat of extinction upon the old trades of tactile communication. Upon a recent vacation to the tropics, for every ten readers that I encountered, at least a good half of them were reading on either an iPad, iphone, or Kindle. Of the remaining five, two were reading John Grisham novels, two were reading magazines, and only 1/10 of the entire lot was reading classic, mind you, not commercial, fiction. I think I saw one book, out of two weeks amongst strangers, that could be considered pertinent to the literary canon.

Further, my fear rests upon the safety of the disclosure of information online– does such cyberspace involvement mean all of our privacy has been stripped, or is such involvement merely a means to survival in today’s post-modern (or are we post-post-modern?) society of internet lives? Because really, what private information is exposed, when everyone is offering up the same thing and your common web-surfer can’t trace an IP address to save his life.

Though digital communication is relatively intimidating, it has so many advantages of mixing media to create new art forms (ex. Digital poetry), co-branding communication, etc. Large sites like Cyanatrendland or style.com all have the ability to bring together different forms of the fine arts and open doors to combining them to bring ideas together. Pre-internet, the global population was uneducated in terms of cultural trends and political happenings in other countries. For example, the Japanese can learn about Spanish trends, the French about the Argentine, and Indians about Russians. There is so much to explore in this alternative world of communication and once we wade through the muck of getting started, it really is a brilliant way to unite individuals who are thousands of miles apart.