Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 7 May 01 07:21
I always thought those 'journal' or 'diary' sites were just a variation of weblog, but I can see the need for the distinction. Doug Block's "Home Page" as really more about that folks who do journals, esp. Justin Hall, who's still doing it at http://www.links.net/. (Wondering if other panelists saw "Home Page"?) I posted only occasionally to my blog 'til I realized that I didn't have to write all that much. I'd been feeding links to Mark & Cory for boingboing.net, and it hit me... I could've blogged the link in less time than it takes to send the email, especially using the zippy bookmarklet tool that you can get from the blogger site.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 7 May 01 07:24
Cory's post slipped in while I was typing (at a leisurely pace)... I agree 'bout that. You could have the best of both worlds by publishing a webzine and incorporating a blog. The blog might offset one problem with webzines, the pressure to get new material out on something like a regular basis.
Rafe Colburn (rafeco) Mon 7 May 01 07:25
I think that the difference between journals and blogs is important, because the distinction between being outwardly focused and inwardly focused is important. I rarely read journal sites unless someone points to a specific, interesting entry, but I read blog sites pretty voraciously.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 7 May 01 07:39
Right ... journal sites seem to be a 'circle of friends' thing. I occasionally look in on Justin's page, for instance, but I probably wouldn't if we weren't friends.
snow poster city (kalel) Mon 7 May 01 12:57
Latecomer me: Heath. I've been traveling: Seattle. But now I'm here and thrilled silly by who's here already... and what's been brought up already. By way of introduction and cred dropping, here's my 411: I got into zines in 1988 with an issue of MRR in the mid-80's (in terms of issue number, natch). I was jazzed with the idea of making my own comics, zines, and records, so I translated my interests in comic books, science fiction, the media (ooh!), and music -- punk rock at the time after a brief infatuation with bluegrass and, um, Kiss -- into a string of various zines and zine-contribution stints that dated into the last few days. No Drama, Blow, and Fifth Man were your basic MRR knockoffs: band interviews, comics, reviews of other zines and records that I obtained via the zine trading "network," and assorted personal writing. Fifth Man grew into what was called Karma Lapel. I started KL-chan when Gunderloy's F5 went under, concentrating on longish, in-depth analyses of DIY media artifacts. KL grew from a one-page flier with Discordian clipart on the flip side to a 36-page tabloid newspaper with proper advertisers and distribution. I still get emails wondering why my reviews aren't as long or as insightful as they used to be. I have no answer. When Seth and Jerod picked up the F5 reins (with Chris and notable others), I kicked KL and started Media Diet, which ran one issue -- two if you count the Lost Issue. Media Diet #1 was an 88-page pocket-sized zine that mixed independent media analysis and commentary (read: reviews) with personal writing. And that's what I eventually focused on when I revived KL-chan. I, like many others in the early '90s, was enamored by perzines... a print precursor to the blogs we see online today. Today my zinemaking is limited to the occasional review. I was an early contributor to Zine World, a spunky counterpart to F5. And I review occasionally for zines and nonzines such as Top Shelf, a spirited comics anthology put out by Brett, etc. at, well, Top Shelf, home of comic indies such as James Kochalka (check out his recent edition of journaling comic strips, the intersection of perzines, blogs, and photocopied comics). Why am I here? I miss zines. I really do. They've changed, and not for the better. Subsequent posts will address points raised above. Pinch me if I disrupt too much.
snow poster city (kalel) Mon 7 May 01 13:18
Some out-of-the-gate and off-the-cuff replies... Jerod's post about the lost history -- or largely unknown history -- of zines is important. Many people credit zines to punk rock and the advent of desktop publishing. It goes back much further than either, and some of the zines (Hlavaty's Derogatory Reference, for example) that are still good today are just so because of their ties to and cues from their forebearers. When I was still in the thick of reviewing zines -- during the big megazine boom of the mid-'90s -- I got tired of zines that were started because their publishers had just seen their first zine. Granted, that's how I got my start (MRR -- tangent: I did a staff newsletter for a Boy Scout camp that was reviewed in F5 before Gunderloy quit. His take on Stafficidal Tendencies still warms this heart.), but the best zines exist because their publisher has something to say and can't help but say it regardless of media. Mark's intro post was what got me thinking about the megazines. Remember the boom of pubs such as Bunnyhop, Ben Is Dead, Genetic Disorder... and even Might? Almost all west coast, these were zines that took as many cues from traditional and mainstream magazines as they did zines. Some were merely independent music magazines, but many folks did -- and do -- zines as ways to do what they can in publishing until a better opportunity comes along. Think Pagan Kennedy and her zine Pagan's Head, which lead to a collection... and eventually more book contracts. The zine to book phenomenon fascinated me -- the Baffler, Answer Me!, the various F5 and Chip Rowe books -- and I remember being rankled by the thought that folks would do a zine as a springboard. We see it happening less today, but how far are zines from comic book ashcans? Good to read Jeff again. I miss zines, and I miss OYB. Not sure why I don't still pick it up regularly. When I first encountered OYB I was impressed by its Lookout (Lawrence Livermore's old NoCal perzine) meets Attitude Problem (a punkish tabloid that mixed skateboarding and skillful means -- punk rockers and artisans as businesspeople: glassblowers, etc.) take on sustainable living and transportation. Jeff's still active in alt.zines on Usenet, and what I know of his current activities holds out that what he was doing continues to be meaningful. Kudos to folks' distinctions between Web journals and blogs. On Jim and Cory's comments on linking, I view the practice as follows. The best zines and even comic books connected their readers through letter columns and reviews. Print links. Are you the kind of person who reads Cerebus? You can see who else reads the book -- and what they're all about. Ditto for reviews. Zines connected latent communities of interest before the Web did so. And I think that outward links in blogs serve a function similar to those of lettercols and reviews. You can gauge the company you keep by the crowd they run with -- and what other media they're consuming and using. I discussed this recently with the folks at Soft Skull Press (http://www.softskull.com): Sometimes it's in your interest online to keep traffic within your site. And sometimes it's useful in terms of community building and (gack) marketing to surround yourselves with likeminded people, sites, and services... and link them to each other. I've said a couple of times that I miss zines. Why is this so? Well, I don't read as many as I used to. And it's no longer for me to challenge zinemakers to uphold quality in their writing, editing, and design -- as I did in Karma Lapel, and as I did as a panelist at the first Underground Press Conference in 1994. I don't have as much time to wade through the dreck to find the gems. However, I think several other things happened: (a) the megazine, F5, and zine book boom of the mid-'90s brought a lot of zinemakers into the fold who weren't as inspired or energetic in their zinemaking (this is NOT the fault of the megazines, F5, or zine books), (b) e-zines contributed to the plug-and-play, "Hey, this is easy!" dynamic that increased productivity as well as the noise to signal ratio... and made the quality harder to find (if you PRINT your zine, you have to make more calls and work harder, IMO), and (c) the Web in general. Zines used to hold the cards in terms of connecting disparate communities of interest. Now the Web makes likeminded people that much easier to find. And I think a lot of what made it into zines, APAs, and other print networks such as mail art is now trafficked on the back channel -- or online. What zines do I still read? Giant Robot, THE megazine of the day, which focuses on Asian-American lifestyles and pop culture. Cometbus, which continues to be THE perzine that most model themselves after. The punk rock trinity: MRR, Punk Planet, and Hit List. And many, many self-published and photocopied comics. I find that I'm reading more magazines these days -- my zine time is more focused and less exploratory. That said, because I just canceled 80 magazine subscriptions to help cut costs at work, maybe I'll have more time to dive back into zines. ^_^
Paper - The Undead Medium (jerod23) Mon 7 May 01 14:53
To address Jim's questions about the synergies and differences between the web and paper-based zines: web publishing is just the next evolutionary stage of DIY media. As in the previous explosions of zine publishing that occured at the intersection of new technologies & too much free time, web media are following the same pattern. In that way it's no different than previous technological advances (from home mimeographs to desktop publishing). The huge difference is that of cost. The early days of electronic publishing saw an inversion of the traditional model of zine economics where paper based publications were relatively expensive to produce but cheap to read. Before 'net connected computers were in most offices, schools and libraries an electronic publication could be considered cheap to produce but expensive to read. Now there is practically no cost associated with either the production or consumption of a web-based zine, unless one purchased a computer with the express purpose of producing or consuming webzines. Whereas paper, despite its growing on trees, is tremendously expensive to use, even if one factors in inflation. Postage, too, is more expensive. Companies have wised up to the would-be Hunter Thompsons in temp workers' uniforms and have implemented many obstacles to surreptitious corporate sponsorships. So only those most dedicated to the aesthetics of paper, or most profoundly distrustful of computers in general or the 'net specificially, still publish on paper. The synergy is found when the diverse types of media can coexist under one title and do what they do best - paper is easier to read in most cases (the notable exception, when one is supposed to be slaving away at the office); while your webzine offers nigh unlimited access to all back issues and annotations, in the form links to other sites, to current and past articles. The paper edition of _MRR_ may be easier to read on the toilet, but an online edition could allow a reader to hear a sample of the musical work being reviewed.
Paper - The Undead Medium (jerod23) Mon 7 May 01 14:55
Could whoever is in charge of the splash page at www.well.com change the intro for this topic? It states that zine publishing started in the late 1980s. That is embarrassingly incorrect by about 60 years.
Tiffany Lee Brown (jonl) Mon 7 May 01 17:45
From Tiffany: hullo, everyone! sorry to drop in late. lots of nice & variant threads seem to be weaving and unravelling here. was my first 'zine experience reading MRR in chemistry class, or was it making the first issue of my elementary school's "newspaper" (of which i think i might've been the editor) in the purple-inked mimeograph machine? was it working on the freebie newsprint tabloid EMERGENCY HORSE in eugene, oregon, in like 1990? i'm not really sure. but i didn't *really* get into it until the early 1990s, when a big messy swirl of reality hacking descended on my brain. i found bOING bOING and Going Gaga and Mondo 2000, after having spent a few years in a Robert Anton Wilsonian freakout, maaan. i'd always liked the punk rock, but it was the psychedelia that reeled me in. the same influences led me to The Well and to the whole concept of online life. i logged in, went crazy posting all kinds of shit, and bam! the next day, i had email from all these writers who i thought of as being, like, Big Famous publishers and stuff! people like Mark Frauenfelder and Paco Xander Nathan -- and they wanted *me* to come into their private conferences or write for their 'zines! RU Sirius was, like, responding to my posts! soon Howard Rheingold was asking to publish my posts in Whole Earth Review. i was doing silly photo shoots for Mondo. to me, this was all much more huge than -- hell, i don't know, getting invited to the White House or meeting Madonna, or whatever it is that impresses people. it felt like i'd fiinally fallen into the right rabbit hole. so for me: The Well and the Fringe Ware mailing list have everything to do with why i <heart> zines and ended up making them. i'd already spent time on local freebie papers, editing school newspapers, and stuff like that, so it seemed natural to work on the Fringe Ware Review paper 'zine, the TAZmedia and TAZmusique webzines, to make a paper digest 'zine called HOT GEEKS! that included a Hot Geek Hunk O' the Month trading card. to helping start up Anodyne's paper and later web 'zines in Portland. etc. i could continue ranting for a long time. i'll shut up for now. suffice to say that i've been editing Signum at http://www.signumpress.com for a couple years now, and i really luv it. we plan to publish a print anthology (that's why we have such long features instead of doing the usual shallow web-length thang), but still: i love, love, LOVE print. that smell, that slidy sexy shiny paper. it's bad for trees, but i am a magazine 'ho.
Paul Bissex (biscuit) Mon 7 May 01 18:31
(I loved Emergency Horse!)
With catlike tread (sumac) Tue 8 May 01 09:16
A lot of my first published writing was done for my friend Lori Twersky's zine Bitch. Bitch ended with Lori's death, but now there's another zine called Bitch, and I believe they're currently putting together a story on the original Bitch (which was subtitled "The Women's Rock Newsletter with Bite").
Mark Frauenfelder (mark) Tue 8 May 01 10:01
Every blog fits somewhere on a continuum between an online journal on one side, and a headline aggregator on the other. My favorites are the ones that are one the headline aggregator side, with a couple of sentences or paragraph of context. Jim Romenesko's blogs (obscurestore and mediagossip) are like that. I used to think that a blog was no good if it was made by a gang of people, since the quirky POV of a single blogger (like Jorn Barger of robotwisdom.com) was the valuable filter. But metafilter.com is now one of my favorites. How many different people post to that? They have a very high batting average for me. I probably follow 25% of the links on metafilter.
Rafe Colburn (rafeco) Tue 8 May 01 10:19
I used to like Metafilter more than I do now. There are too many users these days, I think. And it's drawn its fair share of trolls.
Gareth Branwyn (gareth) Tue 8 May 01 12:01
I wrote a piece for my column on MSNBC's "The Site" site back in 1997 about the possible emerging trend of e-zines moving into print. Thought some it is was relevant to this discussion. Jeff Potter was one of the people "on the verge" that I interviewed. As you can see from his post above, he went through with the move. Here's the article: http://home.earthlink.net/~garethb2/basementZines.html I bothered to update the links, but otherwise, it's in all of its outdated glory.
Laurel Krahn (lakrahn) Tue 8 May 01 13:56
Memepool is a good example of a collaborative weblog that usually has a lot of great links (I click through a lot of them. Assuming I haven't already seen them elsewhere). And it's been around for ages. http://www.memepool.com/ (But I'm betting many of you already go there). I've had a weblog since 1998 and it started out much more linky and has become more journally. I want to go back to linking and quoting more and keep the journal stuff in a separate journal. But it's tricky. I get feedback from folks who love the journal stuff and would rather most of my writing be in one place. I like weblogs that are mostly links with quotes and commentary, but occasional personal digressions. (my weblog: http://www.windowseat.org/weblog/ )
Tiffany Lee Brown (jonl) Tue 8 May 01 16:28
From Tiffany: Biscuit -- d00d! you know of Emergency Horse? are you in Eugene? you remember it? wow! i had very little to do with it. i was like a dumb little kid who'd returned to her hometown after college to find that the really cool older guys she looked up to wanted her to do stuff with their cool 'zine. i think i just laid out ads, did some transcribing, that sort of thing. i'd been a huge fan of the Big Time Poetry Theatre as a high school kid in the '80s, and of St Huck, and of the Lenny's scene, and the protests to keep the hospital from shutting everything down, and the Dada parades, and things like that. those same guys started Emergency Horse and the Cherry Poppin' Daddies. and *this* is what's truly nifty about zines: this winding, sideways conversation. discovering the links between people. that element of community that your local faceless institution, media conglom, greedy startup, or global corporation is always trying to co-opt. fuck that. </predictable rant> a question for Bloggers: if i took something that presents itself as a list and called it a Blog, would it suddenly be cool? would it be a Blog and other Bloggers would appreciate it and look around? on Signum we have these Listies. the idea is simply for contributors to share a list of stuff that's turning them on at the moment, whatever that may be. some of it is linked, some not. descriptions are limited, if present at all. (www.signumpress.com -- the listies are in the Detritus section). would that be btetter as a "blog"? or is blogging defined by using the actual blog software? -tif
http://www.syntheticzero.com (mitsu) Wed 9 May 01 01:45
Blogging is a format, not a tool, though most people blog using tools. I myself write the HTML by hand, just because that's how I started mine and I just haven't gotten around to changing over. But anything formatted as a blog is a blog, whether you use a tool or not. That is: dated entries, newest stuff at the top, links. I think there are some fundamental things that make weblogs interesting and rich; one is that flame wars and noise are limited, because you only read the weblogs that turn you on. Similarly, people who hate your weblog simply don't read you --- they don't usually feel compelled to comment negatively (this rule is somewhat bent if you have the fortune or misfortune of getting publicity --- after Heather Anne Halpert had http://www.lemonyellow.com, featured solo in an article in the New York Times, she got a lot of attention and some people started to criticize her in public and in private --- but still, that is still a relatively rare thing.) And, of course, new content is always at the top and is frequently updated, usually --- another crucial architectural component. Finally, the links --- not only the links to content but the links to other weblogs: we find blogs through "webs of trust" --- we learn to trust the judgement of weblogs we follow and when they link to other blogs, we add to our personal web. Webs of trust are self-organizing. Another advantage to the links is that you tend to feel positively inclined towards weblogs that link back to you; thus, weblogs tend to fight less with each other. What I really like about weblogs, though, is that, because of these webs of trust, the content of weblogs is very diverse. You can talk about what you want to talk about, and people who are into you will read you, and people who aren't will simply not be drawn into your web of trust. You don't have to worry about your conversation being derailed by the one person on USENET who decides they want to engage in yet another iteration of some ancient recycled flame war. Trolling, similarly, is nearly impossible, etc. Weblogs are sometimes criticized for being too derivative; always linking to content and not providing enough new content of their own. This is why I personally prefer weblogs which combine original writing and ideas with links to content; both adding to and helping to filter the vast content of the Web. I read my favorite blogs not only to find out what they've found today, but to find out what they've been thinking themselves. There is a third category of weblog content, therefore: in addition to links and personal journal entries, there's simply ideas, musings, creative writing, and so forth. So add another dimension or two to the spectrum. On the journal/weblog dichotomy; Judith at http://www.calamondin.com places her personal journal on the left, and the weblog entries on the right (check out her site to see it --- it's more elegant than I'm describing). I myself, following the format of Heather Anne's Lemonyellow, simply mix things all up within my entries; links inside journal entries, my own ideas or musings, strange experiences, conversations with friends, event announcements, or just links by themselves, or my own writing by itself. I like the formal possibilities of being able to do almost anything.
Paul Bissex (biscuit) Wed 9 May 01 07:58
tif -- I lived in Oregon (Corvallis) in 1991-1992 and picked up Emergency Horse there. I bet I still have copies in storage. I was just getting into design and writing at that point, and I remember both as being well done in the Horse. Perhaps it was too professional to be considered a 'zine, but it had real personality. It definitely was partial inspiration for my later involvement in local weekly and then national monthly magazines -- to add to your point, that's one of the cool things about zines: their ability to silently inspire people who come across them.
Gareth Branwyn (gareth) Thu 10 May 01 18:05
Sorry I've been MIA so far for this discussion. My website Street Tech has suffered this bizarre spam scam/mail bomb (too convoluted to detail here) and I've been on damage control for the last few days. This sort of thing never happened in the zine world! Oh wait: inter-zine warfare, scary hate mail, print shop censorship, obscenity trials... Never mind.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 10 May 01 20:18
Must be sunspots: blogger's also not working... there's a bunch of people going ballistic in the troubleshooting forum at blogger.com.
Rafe Colburn (rafeco) Fri 11 May 01 06:12
Nothing mentioned on Ev's blog, either.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 11 May 01 06:26
blogger's down for repairs at the moment.
Life in the big (doctorow) Fri 11 May 01 07:11
Lots of new DDoS attacks out there -- Spamcop was DDoSed earlier this week.
snow poster city (kalel) Fri 11 May 01 14:33
On 44... I have a hate mail story to tell. When I was doing Blow back in the late '80s, I reviewed a cassette by a band in Medford, Wisconsin, called Vegtable Spit (misspelling theirs). The singer was atrocious, and -- in the spirit of my reviewing style since then -- I said so. This prompted a piece of hate mail from the band accusing us of "not supporting the scene," being pretentious poseurs, and basically being wrong. This continued off and on throughout the years -- and not from Vegtable Spit, which has since reformed under another name -- and continues to intrigue me. If you're involved in self-publishing, zinemaking, blogging, or another form of indie media, where does your responsibility fall as a reviewer, critic, analyst, linker, or other referral to people's media products? Is it our responsibility to support the DIY at all costs in order to provide encouragement and permission to self-produce media? Or is our responsibility to establish and encourage others to meet standards of quality in their DIY work? A lot of what I've encountered in the zine world seems to hold that standards and quality are not to be discussed -- and do little more than shake the foundations of the "scene." But there's so much crap out there. And our time is so short. When I reviewed Web sites for Online Access back in 1996, I looked at about 300-400 Web sites a month in addition to my other writing and editing work. I kind of wish that online journals and blogs had been as popular then as they are now, but more than that, I view the ease of use of the Web -- and the quality of most Web sites -- in a much different light than I did at the outset. I used to think that the Web -- writ large -- liberated thinkers and creators. Now I view it similar to poetry. If you're a small-press poet, maybe that means that you're a bad poet. I'm not saying that there's a mutual inclusivity here: That all Web zines are bad. I'm just saying that I wish there was more clarity to the "webs of trust" that Mitsu mentions. Because I don't like all zines -- I trust some zine reviewers -- and the best way to find new zines you might like is through trusted reviews.
Linda Castellani (castle) Fri 11 May 01 19:19
e-mail from Jeff Potter: Hi again...Man, there's a whole lot goin on out there. Neat to see all the views and historic perspective going on here about zining. I checked out one of the cool blogs the other day...and found this long list of links. Sorry, folks! Not my cuppa tea. Maybe I'll try again sometime and catch on better. One of the things I did with my online OYB is make it total content. Total destination. One small links page of places I go. Then 500+ articles of pure rare nonfiction content organized by 6 main topics covering a couple dozen areas of DIY culture, searchable---with nothing about indy labels, bands or comics. Every now and then some well-oiled web-gang finds something on my site and I start getting a bunch of paper zine subs. But really I do it all wrong. About once a year I upload a fresh batch of 200 articles or so. Are you laughing yet? I manage my website as badly as my paper zine. I think that some folks have links to me out there. But I wonder if I have even one on a blog? How to find out? Oh yeah, you're right about my pal's blog experience. I remember now, he said it was the "OLJ" scene. And that they had conventions and such. Way too much navel lint for him. This fits with what you guys are saying about that way-personal side of the blog spectrum. But the all-links side seems just as scary to me. Me, what I've always done is just use Google to search up topics, then I find the hardest-core CONTENT sites I can find. I've never run into a blog doing this, that I know of. But then I'm out of this loop as much as I'm out of all the others. OK, Heath totally hit on the key to the Golden Age of zining. And it did coincide with Gunderloy's F5. And it was fueled by zines like the one he did that he mentioned. "Stafficide Tendencies." I never saw it, but...a Boy Scout camp newsletter? Oh my god! That's the heart and soul of zining! And THAT'S what we don't see anymore! Half the things in G's F5 didn't call themselves zines. They were just weird newsletters put out by oddball geeks and clubs. WEBSITES can't capture this stuff! It's the message in a bottle vibe that is lost somehow. I botch my own scene now coz folks don't get a message in a bottle from me anymore. They get a club over the head! Who wants a 74page non-fiction how-to article PERZINE about outdoor sports??? With book reviews of Samuel Johnson and Simone Weil and the Civil War and Vietnam War tossed in? Ha! Well, I've never minded being heavy handed. You want a message in a bottle? I'll ram the Titanic into your house! : ) How thoughtful. Speaking of the heart of zining, we used to have a true Buddha guru, too: Doug Biggert. (praise be...scrape, scrape....) At Tower. He busted the world's doors open for zining it seemed. He was a big shot who ran a big office his way, and that way included the little people. He was willing to be hit by anything. He got zines onto big fancy newstands. The man. It was great phoning him up. He could just ramble along, giving out great advice from the inner sanctum and inside scoops by the bucketful. I felt like I was talking to Kissinger or something. Maybe Andy Warhol. His whim ran Tower. With perfect pitch. He would randomly send me pouches of crazy zines. Remember the comic "Bitchy Bitch"? Fantagraphics, right? Zinesters and comix people were just doing a dragster peel-out on the culture at that very moment. We popped a wheelie down mainstreet, thanks to Doug and Mike. And zines like "Stafficide Tendencies." Jeff Potter **** *Great Lakes Press * http://www.glpbooks.com (#1 publisher of engineering license reviews & discounts on techbooks) *Out Your Backdoor * http://www.outyourbackdoor.com (friendly zine of modern folkways and cultural rescue...with bikes)
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