Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 12 May 01 08:38
Wow, I hadn't thought of Doug Biggert in ages... he was a big help to FringeWare. As soon as he saw our 'magalog,' he ran it into all the Tower Records stores. I thing he wandered into the john with a copy of Fringe Ware Review and called us before he got off the seat! I wandered over to Tower and was way impressed with the incredible zine selection, better than I've seen anywhere else. He really got what it was about. Re. the blogs that link - they're filters, really, which is what I think Heath was talking about. You can't read anything, so you find reviewers you trust, and they point you to the good stuff. Similarly, you can't surf everything new on the web, but you can find blogs that you trust, that fit your sensibility, and follow their links. I actually drop some content into my blog, as well, if there's time... but as my friend Jim Whitaker usedta say, "Poetry don't feed the bulldog."
Susan MacTavish Best (mact-best) Sat 12 May 01 09:04
"Or is our responsibility to establish and encourage others to meet standards of quality in their DIY work? " Yes! If you're writing an article on something, reviewing it, then if it IS crap you should say it is so. There's so much good stuff, and so much lousy stuff. As a reader, I hate to be misled. In '98, I started a zine here in SF called Posthoc:The Upfront Guide to San Francisco (http://www.posthoc.com it's still live but we had a wake last summer). The reason I started it was because I was so frustrated that I could never find the real scoop as to who went where, what it was REALLY like. Blunt, honest reviews with minimal agendas. I really encouraged my writers to be "upfront." Definitely important, I think. SMB
Laurel Krahn (lakrahn) Sat 12 May 01 10:37
Greymatter is a good alternative to blogger. Assuming you have cgi access on your server and are comfortable setting it up, configuring it, etc. Steeper learning curve than blogger, but also more powerful. http://www.noahgrey.com/greysoft/ (I switched to greymatter the last time blogger had major server problems and i love it. Not that there's anything wrong with blogger, of course. And I'm sure there are even more alternatives out there, now. I haven't managed to keep up with all of them). Oh, I like LiveJournal, too. www.livejournal.com
Rafe Colburn (rafeco) Sat 12 May 01 10:44
There are lots of security issues with Grey Matter that may or may not make a difference to you, but that you should know about. The problem with it is that it requires you to set up lots of world writable files on your system, including files that are used to manage the access configuration for Grey Matter itself. This can be a problem in a shared hosting environment.
http://www.syntheticzero.com (mitsu) Sat 12 May 01 11:51
Right. You give Blogger your password, so you don't have to remove any security on your site. Of course, this means you have to trust Blogger with your password, but I'd rather do that than set up a whole slew of world- writable files... Another blogging tool is Groksoup; some people like them. The beauty of blogs is precisely the filtering. Why this is great is kind of hard to understand until you've started to stumble into a "web of trust" that you find trustworthy --- then you begin to realize how incredibly valuable it can be. Because the promise of the Web was a lot of interesting obscure content, content that you can't find in mainstream media --- just like zines. But the reality was that the vast majority of content on the Web sucks. Just try one of the search engines that have a "random site" feature --- you'll spend a long, long time before you find anything even remotely interesting. So you need other ways. Weblogs are a way to do this. Of course, you also need to find a weblog to start with that you like; it's the chicken and egg thing. I was lucky enough to have been emailed the New York Times article on Heather Anne's weblog --- ironically, I was introduced to the world of weblogs through mainstream media. But she opened up my world to a universe of new content and possibilities. Since then I've gotten email from many people thanking me for my site, which has had a similar effect for them. It's gratifying. Myself, I don't really like the long lists of links sites, as I said; but they can be valuable too, if you follow the links. I like to put some content in my posts, and most of my favorite weblogs do the same. I also think it would be great to put more lengthy content on my site; that's a bit harder to do time-wise. There's more to be done.
Jeff Potter (jonl) Mon 14 May 01 07:18
Email from Jeff Potter: So I've seen "web of trust" pop up here several times now. This fits with another aspect of public online zine media: Usenet has the public, searchable alt.zines which is a nearly dead group...of expertise and good info. There's also a zinesters-elist, full of hundreds of subscribers, youthful, political...moderated...censored...unsearchable.... low content. On the airy elist I see frequent references to safe places and fear of betrayal, even fear of criticism. No such worries on alt.zines. I've been posting to a.z. for years. About the only complaining there comes from me when I lament about people not sticking to Netiquette, not posting to the topic...I make noises when the silence seems too stupid. All this culture and not a drop to drink. In all my years of zining and looking for good zines I've never seen mention of safety or trust before. In any kind of cozy, in-group sense, anyway. (I suspect that when people think of safety they don't like to have it aligned with "cozy." They think it's serious stuff. Like when "identity politics" come up, some folks don't like it being equated with "hobbies.") On this panel so far "web of trust" has seemed to refer to those who don't want to waste time wandering thru dreck. But I wonder if there isn't more to it. Why don't zinesters post to Usenet? Why are these bold publishers hiding on a moderated PRIVATE unsearchable elist? Any connection here to why zines are going downhill? Seem to be more part of highschool cliques? Of course, I don't totally understand blogging. I've made lists of links. Why would anyone need something called "blogger" or even be confronted with a security aspect? Maybe people can add to YOUR list somehow? Well, heck, I've had Forums at my site for years, too. Security is a cinch. Anyway, I doubt that I'm on any blog-lists. But I've been part of many "webs of trust" for years. It's always been trustworthy. My website has been rockin in high regard since 94. But maybe "web of trust" is a euphemism for "hip"...which to me as no relation to actual trustiness. When I use generic search engines, I easily find gems on any topic. It's easy. If I cruise forums or newsgroups for a sec it's easy to see what resources have respect. I've never wasted time online. (Hardy, har.) That is, I've never found anyone untrustworthy. But maybe it's coz I use the old mariner's dictum: "Friendly to everyone, trust no one." I haven't put myself in a position where I could be abused, I suppose. A flame isn't a threat to me, though. On the other hand, because mainstream magazines are so badly edited, I like the idea of good editing. The world needs it. I consider myself someone who can find good info. A smart agent. A filter. Don't waste your time, come check out my site. So I like the concept of "web of trust" but what's up with the execution? "Web of trust" sounds small. I like the most open kind of searchability. I want to avoid preaching to the converted. As a result, I'm probably out of the in-group. But how in is the in-group? Coz I know I'm as in as you can get whereever it is that I am. But then I have zero band interviews, no politics...which as we know are only euphemisms for dating and mating. So I'm both off the back and off the front (in racing lingo). Funny stuff going on here somehow. --Jeff Potter
Jeff Potter (jonl) Mon 14 May 01 08:40
Email from Jeff Potter: I saw an Utne at a friend's house. I think it was a new issue. The anarchy cover. I looked up Chris Dodge's "Street Librarian" column at the back. I saw him gently introduce the concept of zine to the Utne readers. Those poor things. And poor Chris. It read something like..."A zine (pronounced "zeen") is a homemade publication said to express views which are called 'alternate.' Can you say 'alternate'? I thought you could. In these 'zines' young people express what they call their 'disatisfaction'." I'm sure that he is edited with an iron fist. Not for appropriateness. For dumbness. That's why publishing sucks these days. Sure, he had all sorts of great links and tips. But the feel was so *1991.* ...That's where Utne's head is. Cheery cobwebs. But what do I know. I'm outta the loop. I'm a classically trained journalist. I used to keep in touch with the whole newstand, library, bookstore and mailbox. Nowadays, here's my subs, mags, papers and tv channels: ZERO. Because they're not what they say they are. None of it's new. (Solomon could've told me that.) I stay in touch with a few publishers and writers who I advertise in or work with or swap with. I've gone and done a Henry Thoreau on myself: "What news? I want to find that which was never old." Maybe it's just coz I'm not dating anymore. (Wife, kids, family, company, garden, homebrew...) The energy isn't going out in a froth. It's going into building, making stuff, sending it out. Working to contribute not to a "scene" but to life. In this situation (which is a common one for everyday people!) things like Utne go further and further "off the back" (as they say in racing). And there's why I got into zining, hidden up in that parenthesis. What do regular everyday people need? What are they like? Can they get what they need? Is there a place they can explore what they're like? (A cultural mirror, which is what literary talent is about.) If they can't, and I can do something about it, I do it. But, see, it's not about small groups. I don't give a rat's ass about hobbies, I mean 'affinity groups.' (Maybe that's why I'm not on any blogs?) It's small world, I'm talking about. --Jeff Potter
Susannah Indigo (sindigo) Mon 14 May 01 08:47
I think we've got all the "euphemisms for dating and mating" over at Clean Sheets:). (www.cleansheets.com) Interesting topic here.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 14 May 01 09:29
It's sort of like a "history of everyday life" you're talking about, Jeff, no? Most historical accounts document the larger forces and milestone events, but I've always been more interested in the lives of everyday people. Check this out: http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~dberger/papers/English_Papers/michel/michel .html "Certeau's view that one can use existing repressive systems to escape. As examples of groups that have used these tactics Certeau cites: the songs of the underclass in brazil that create heroic myths from a history of repression, the myths Levi Strauss says the rural Brazilians use, and the practice of la perruque. La perruque is a French word that describes workers using scrap materials and factory machines to create objects on their own time for themselves. Certeau marvels at la perruque as a way in which workers are using the tools that oppress them to create new objects; which he sees as, a type of space. Certeau concludes the tactic of la perruque is spreading to other sectors of society such as culture and language."
snow poster city (kalel) Mon 14 May 01 10:11
Brazil? I'll bite. An issue or so ago of a friend's zine -- Off My Jammy (http://sinkcharmer.com/omj/ is a skeletal Web for it) -- focused on Brazil. But that's not what I want to say... it's just a trigger. I'd like to use OMJ as an example of what is right about zines. And what is good. And what continues to have promise. OMJ is a fine example of a zine that (a) exists because the publisher has something that needs to be said, and she can't help but do it, (b) makes connections between seemingly disparate things because it's basically a mind map of the publisher's worldview, and (c) supports a wider community of independent media activists. Lisa sees a lot of connections between food, indie rock, English as a second language, rock en espanol, and travel. And OMJ makes those connections clear. When she interviews a band, she doesn't just interview them about themselves or their music. She talks to the Make Up about the ups and downs of their tour through Brazil. Instead of interviewing the Donnas, she asks them to taste test various Brazilian soft drinks and photographs them with a T-shirt, zine, and demo she was given by a Brazilian fan who wanted to meet them. And she asks them to comment on his lyrics and music. Every issue includes a wide range of resource listings -- people in other countries, periodicals she picks up while traveling, and other items and ideas that can help readers make their own connections. Lisa is a filter and a nexus. OMJ itself is relatively lo-fi, as many of the best zines are. It's photocopied, half-sized, and pretty basically laid out and illustrated. But its content and energy is infectious. Because of how she approaches music and media, she's able to connect with many people that larger, better- produced, more widely available zines and magazines have regular access to -- but what she DOES with that access is key to zining.
snow poster city (kalel) Mon 14 May 01 14:46
In response to Jeff's question about why many zinemakers don't participate in alt.zines: For me, it's because of alt.zines' high noise to zine ratio and a limited interest in being part of -- much less witnessing -- the petty personality posturing and politicking that tends to get kicked up there. Case in point: The recent thread on Michael Hunt/Mike Diana/Jim Goad/Rev. Tin Ear's angry white male tour. http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&safe=off&ic=1&th=3c2c85d29d8e8570,39 as a starter taste. This kind of stuff sickens me now -- while it used to almost interest me. And I've found that the best way to handle this stuff (if I don't want to kick up embers) is to ignore it. I could ignore it by reading some of it and not responding. Or I could just not read it -- and feel better about zines and zinemakers.
Jeff Potter (jonl) Tue 15 May 01 10:10
Email from Jeff Potter: La perruque and jammies: gotta love it! Great stuff, thanks! Jon L mentions the history of everyday life and how bigger forces usually get the nod. What kind of turned me on to alternative culture was when I discovered that the dominant force is not the representative one. I remember reading a history of Emerson where he's talking with a guy who's into Fletcherism or something like that. I dug into that a bit and found out it was a whole big scene on its own, but I'd never even heard of it. So, basically, Puritans and Transcendentalists and the like get the main rap in early American cultural history, and sure maybe they were controlling force of their day, in the cultural centers, but maybe they only represented, like, 10% of the people. There were tons of other creative scenes going on. Most folk probably didn't care what was being written by the restricted elitist private presses. Maybe they didn't even know those "dominant" scenes hardly even existed. (Until it affected some law that affected them.) So maybe there's an unreported big 90% of yeasty foment, the variety where all the people were. They have libraries, schools and talent. They are making their own art, music and religion. So maybe what gets into the history books isn't always even that big. There's an iceberg of everyday life where the real action goes down. Speaking of being representative, I have to mention the Underground Literary Alliance (ULA). I'm not a member, just a supporter. They're doing the next big thing in zining. Zining is diffuse. Cool, but its impact is lost for most folks. The dominant literary forces today are totally out of touch. Sure, it's a bigger force than zining but it represents and benefits far fewer people, an ever-shrinking crowd of NPR-ites, in fact. The powers that be want to ignore zining. But the ULA says zining is where the new talent is and where it can come from. The ironclad literary system of academic stranglehold is killing Western lit. The ULA says open up the access. Stop the gravy train. The ULA is making a focused attack for the first time ever on the NYC literary headquarters and encourages zinesters to send the best stuff they can find to a certain few main editors. This will let them see that zining has something new to offer. Plus they're doing some acting up. They've gotten a lot of action going for zining. And it's of a serious, adult nature, too. The last time zining got much media exposure it was in terms of kidstuff, maybe it was even Columbine. These guys have gotten several big stories in the VVoice and such about how zining has hardcore literary cultural merit. The funny thing is that so far most zinesters have rabidly attacked them. Silly kidstuff. --JP Jeff Potter
Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 15 May 01 11:01
more e-mail from Jeff Potter: PS: Yet another take on the freaky idea about the smallness of "big" historical forces is, say the dominant force has 10% of the people into it. What helps you picture what was really going on is to realize that there are, say, another couple dozen scenes that make up the other 90% of the culture. Each of them are smaller than 10%, so they can't hog the limelight (and probably because they are local/regional/personal, they never could be any bigger). But if acknowledged, they reveal that the culture is a big mix rather than a monolith. 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)
Tiffany Lee Brown (jonl) Tue 15 May 01 17:04
Email from Tiffany: could someone post a very brief, tidy summary of blogging, for the clueless? the more i read here, the more i realise i have no frickin' idea what blogging is. a format? a list of stuff? a something-or-other that does something and makes you build a web of trust by putting world-writeable files on your server? also, jeff, you seem kinda randomly pissed off or disappointed or something, like 'zines or 'zinesters or the universe haven't dished up enough goodness for you lately. hey i'm right there with you! stuff should be good, stuff should be better! but i think this part is interesting: 'working to contribute not to a "scene" but to life.' of course the "scene" part is going to die a little bit, if people are more concerned with their own personal, private lives than they are with their local community (which is a kind of "scene") or small publishing across the continent (another kind of "scene"). i think it's a natural function of age. we get older, especially if we hook up and do the mating thing as you pointed out... and we settle into our houses & build our farms & plant our gardens & raise our kids & obsess about work & try to keep the marriages going & hold up the picket fence with popsicle sticks on those rainy days when it feels like the whole mess is going to come crashing down on us. but fuck it: if that's what we're doing with our lives, we've sacrificed the right to complain about our culture not being culturally satisfying enough. either we participate, create things, and promote other people's creations, or we should shut the hell up and watch our thirty minutes of CNN after dinner, hardly worrying that we haven't read an inspiring 'zine in months. or we keep creating our own stuff and yeah, we know we're "out of the loop" as you put it, that strange cliques seem to have infiltrated what used to be "our" scene. why not let the kids have the scene and their cliques? as long as we're still being creative, we don't have to be "insidery" too or whatever. that clique/insider element seemed to be a big part of jeff's posts above & i'm not sure i see what the real complaint is against 'em, what the perceived problem is. -tif editrix, signumpress.com
Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 15 May 01 18:10
tif, thank you so much for asking that question! I want to know, too. (about blogging...)
Jeff Potter (jonl) Wed 16 May 01 06:03
Email from Jeff Potter: Hi Tiffany...My complaint about the "web of trust" is more that it seems like bloggers are looking for those who can point em where the cool insider groups are. Not where the cool info is. It seems like zining is about cool groups now, too, rather than cool info. I've done the cool info thing for 10 years in print, 6 years in web and haven't budged an inch in the cool group thing. The kids are missing out coz it takes cool info to make cool groups. When zining and the web started up, the info was the thing. And there was VERY hard rockin everywhere I looked. Now it's somehow like they can tell if you're wearing the right (baggy) clothes or not even online and on paper, and they think that's what it's about. I mean neither the Net or zining were about groups/dating/mating before, but maybe now they are? It just seems to weaken the hell out of them. Maybe I'm just bummin about living in a suburbia that has grown up around me. I said "I'm not going to be the one who leaves to let it all go to heck." But everyone else has left. It's all new people. It's gone to heck. I might as well have left also. Everyone is doing musical chairs everywhere, which lets it all go to heck. And I've been too busy to get my book out about suburbia. We'll see what happens when I do. There's never been a book about HERE and since here is like a lot of places maybe some wider group of folks will like it. It's all layed out and ready to go. In less than a week, it could be ready, but darnit.... But hey what's going on here. First Jim Goad said I was being passive aggressive, then some bike racer said it. Now here I'm randomly pissed. Maybe I'm going to throw a fit like Peter Finch on "Network." I hope not. It's a beautiful world. There's a great rain coming down right now into our lush jungle yard. I think that I miss "Gogglebox" most of all. It gets me down to hear that she's working as an intern at Harper's and wants to hide her genius zinester past for the sake of a career...where she has to play every card just right--not a single moment of candor--watch it! careful!--easy does it, gentle, gentle, baby steps--in order to see print or get a mention on NPR. I guess they don't mean to let any Buk's or Thompsons get out again. Darn, there I go.... Do you guys have any leads on the new Buk or HST? C'mon, they gotta be out there. It's not like we're in *decline*, right? "Plain" was a fine zine, too. The only mag ever put out by the Amish, I think. It had some lithos in it. Some hand silkscreens. It was pretty radical, too. Those rockin Amish. I like em. But they banned me and wouldn't let me subscribe coz I kept promoting them on the devil computer. Maybe it was the issue I sent em where I reviewed them next to an excerpt from "Baby Sue" that did it. Hey, my longtime literary hero Jack Saunders---who has NOT faded---just restarted his website. He works for a big high tech firm and lampoons it and our culture like in the movie "Office Space" and "Clock Watchers" only he's telling true stories. He's 62 and puts his job on the line. He was worried and took the site down. Now it's up. He's probably still worried but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Since he's the real McCoy if he lost his job due to his art, there'd be no fuss. They wouldn't mess up. They wouldn't say "art" they'd say "performance." There'd be no rallies or protests. They're untouchable unless he's untouchable and he isn't. He's lost other white collar jobs for art, lost a nice home. His kids turned out well, though. Now there's someone on the cutting edge. He's not in any blogs either. But with his immense body of genius work that he shoves right out there and his pure craftsmanship, he gives me hope, even as total rejection from the scene grinds him down. He's been zining for 30 years now. Heard of him? Check im out at http://thedailybugle.com . Can I ever make a brief post? It must be due to my "condition." --JP
Paul Bissex (biscuit) Wed 16 May 01 12:41
I have this standing joke whenever anybody mentions a band I haven't heard of. "I like their old stuff," I say. "Now they're so COMMERCIAL." Were the good old days of zines really devoid of scene-ness and self-referential cool-ness? How different was the old mutual-review circuit from today's links between blogs? The pace was slower, and there was more mystery, but I can't see the kind of generational character failure that seems to be implied in Mr. Potter's posts (the balance of which I am quite enjoying). Also, way back up there somebody mentioned weird/cool stuff on paper that wasn't even supposed to be cool, which reminded me of the great book _High Weirdness by Mail_ from the SubGenius Foundation. The writeups alone were great entertainment; the actual material was amazing. So many incommensurable worldviews in one mailbox. That was where I learned about Jack Chick tracts.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 16 May 01 12:52
I was looking for a good definition of blogs, and I found this interview with Evan Williams of Pyra & Blogger... this is an excerpt, the whole thang is at http://writetheweb.com/read.php?item=107 WtW: In your minds, is Blogger about content management, personal publishing, data management, all three, or something else? EW: At various times -- mostly because I was thinking about payroll and impressing investors -- I've shied away from the "personal publishing" label, but these days I fully embrace it. To me, that's what is important and exciting about Blogger -- it empowers personal publishers. Within that realm, it's about content management -- specifically, lightweight content management -- the big, embarrassingly gaping hole still yet to be filled in order to make the vision of the web democratizing media a reality. WtW: Do you think the blog concept has become stale? Was there ever a "blog concept" in the first place? EW: To me, the blog concept is about three things: Frequency, Brevity, and Personality. These are the three characteristics that I believe are the driving factors in weblogs' popularity as a publishing format. This clarification has evolved over time, but I realized early on that what was significant about blogs was the format -- not the content. I always chided against the early definition of weblogs as link lists or annotations of the web. This was largely how weblogs were defined -- even by us, at first -- and partially led to the trivialization of the format by a lot of Internet "old-timers." I think it's pretty widely accepted at this point that the definition is broader -- that the "blog concept" is mostly about frequently posting chunks of content on a web page and organizing it chronologically. So, to answer the second question, I do think there was a blog concept. Then there were a couple blog concepts. And now we're getting closer to a blog concept again. Is this concept getting stale? Like anything, over time it's lost its newness and on-the-cutting-edge feel. It's much easier to feel like you're tuned in to something exciting when just a few insiders are doing it than when it's done by 50,000 tech-savvy teens and their not-so-tech-savvy grandmas. But I'm convinced that we are still at the very beginning. The concept will continue to become more prevalent, to the point where it probably won't even be talked about -- simply because it is the native format for publishing all kinds of information on the web. Blogs will become the default format for personal sites (which, despite the dot-com collapse and the inability for anyone to make money off them, continue to grow at a phenomenal rate -- both in terms of numbers and centrality to people's lives), and they will become a staple of professional publisher's and business sites, as well.
judith (jonl) Wed 16 May 01 14:36
Email from judith: rebecca blood's essay, "weblogs: a history and perspective", is a good place to start: http://www.rebeccablood.net/essays/weblog_history.html and rumor has it that cnn is doing some interviews today for a feature on weblogs - don't know when it's scheduled to run.
snow poster city (kalel) Wed 16 May 01 14:39
I'm loving Jeff's posts. Loving them. And here I thought I might end up being the boy bemoaning how COOL everything used to be. ^_^ I agree and disagree with parts of #66. I think Tif might be right that the zine scene was just as clubby and cool as it seems to be now. You see, I doubt that kids who care about how baggy their pants are or whether their Limp Bizkit basebal hat is at the exact right angle are making zines. And if they are, there's probably no middle way: they're either horrendous or stupendous. The latter are probably rare. So I'm not sure what Jeff's talking about in terms of the fashion of zining. But I've felt that clubbishness and cliqueiness (sp?) that he seems to be decrying -- from both sides of the fence. I remember the Kill Zinesters Tour of 1996 and how insider all the folks from Ben Is Dead, Bunnyhop, Genetic Disorder, etc. seemed... and was uncomfortable by the emergence of rockstars in the zine scene. Struck me as odd that a DIY movement would spawn people so into, well, themselves. That said, I continue to think that they put our awesome zines and that people will be people regardless of what they do... but I felt like I was on the outside looking in on something I was already quite involved and invested in. Similarly, before Seth stopped publishing F5, I got the chance to get to know him, Jerod, Chris, Ashley, and others involved pretty well. I was one of the first reviewers for Zine World when Doug Holland started his response to F5. And I've connected with a lot of the top-tier zinemakers around the world. So I've contributed to this clubbiness, too. Jeff even contributes to it when he mourns the loss of the Golden Age and complains about the kids these days. Yeah, I've contributed to it. It used to, for example, really bug me when everyone -- well, not everyone -- was parlaying their zinemaking into more professional publishing jobs at magazines and obook publishing companies. Pagan Kennedy's book "Zine" kicked off more lucrative writing opportunities. Chip Rowe forsook his Closet Cleaner for a steady gig as the Playboy Advisor. And Jeff says that Ms. Gogglebox is now focusing on her internship at Harper's. This stuff used to bug me. Sellout! I'd shout. But now... perhaps because I'm closer to this myself as an editor at Fast Company magazine... I'd rather have zinemakers working for commercial magazines. Hell, it might get us some better magazines! Of course, I d like them to continue publishing their own zine projects on the side, but I can't make them do that. It's a shame that Might folded. It's a very good thing that David Moodie works at Spin. And that David Eggers went on to write a book and publish McSweeney's. I think that the more people we have who think zine and work in mainstream media jobs, the better our mainstream media will be.
Jeff Potter (jonl) Wed 16 May 01 15:31
Email from Jeff Potter: I hope that reminiscing about the good old days isn't the same as promoting clubbiness. Coz the good old days were all about content. I sent my new zine to the big famous zines and got theirs back in swap along with cute, perceptive notes. The old days were no-holds-barred (no "safe space") and they were total access. That's why it worked. If you hit heavy you could get to the deep end of the pool right away. One hit wonders were respected, so was endurance. But content was king. Props were handed out but on merit. Yeah, a golden meritocracy. Well...I best not get carried away. Reviewing wasn't thought of as possibly being backslapping until the Seth F5 started getting a watered down rep, for whatever reason. I liked their reviews. I wonder if his starting the Top 10 and Picks stuff really had more to do with some of the Troubles. Was *that* open access or merit-based? Or purely related to, say, the music of GreenDay? The mass market or flip/trite zines ruled the roost in the front of F5. By promoting content I'm not promoting an era. It could always be re-seized! I note that the Blogger guy mentions that his product is for LIGHTWEIGHT content. What's up there? It's interesting stuff, though.
http://www.syntheticzero.com (mitsu) Wed 16 May 01 15:32
I stepped away for a little bit from this discussion; just catching up on all the good posts above. First of all, let me clarify a little bit on the subject of "web of trust", which I think has been somewhat misunderstood, above. To really understand this you have to go out there and see how it works, in reality; comparing it to things you might have experienced in the past (cliques, etc.) isn't really going to do much good, because the architecture of weblogs and the Web in general is hard to visualize if you just use whatever metaphors you're used to from other contexts. For example, one of the cool things about weblogs is that you don't have to wait around to go take a look at the stuff being discussed; you can go there right now and read. Read this page, randomly selected from the archives of Lemonyellow: http://www.lemonyellow.com/archives/august99.htm. Or go see what Paul has written recently: http://www.alamut.com. See what Judith has been doing and linking to: http://www.calamondin.com. Jouke always has fascinating things to say about weblogs: http://www.nqpaofu.com. Many other great sites: http://www.syntheticzero.com/deeper.html. One basic thing I need to clear up: the word "trust" in "webs of trust" isn't about trusting whether someone is not going to mug you; it's about trusting the judgement and quality of content that comes from a given source. We all operate this way; we don't read every zine or every book or every author, we don't see every film and every television show, we don't eat at every restaurant. We take recommendations from friends, from the media, from Factsheet Five. The difference with a web of trust as opposed to these more traditional formats is that webs of trust can grow more quickly (by linking) and can span the whole planet. If someone I trust says "this weblog is cool" I will go there and see what I think. That person can be living on the other side of the planet, but it's just as easy for me to read them and correspond with them as someone who lives in my own city. One misunderstanding I noted above is somehow comparing "webs of trust" with people replacing cool people for cool info. But of course, on the web, the only thing that you can see of someone else is their info. Info is all there is on the web; if you're not providing cool info or links to cool info, you're not providing much at all. However, in addition to cool info, you can also point to other cool sources of/filters of cool info. It is as though every single weblog is its own Factsheet Five --- and everyone who reads blogs has their own personal, dynamically-evolving Factsheet Five.
http://www.jimwich.com/ (jleft) Thu 17 May 01 00:54
My first brush with the 'zine scene was mostly local in Kansas City in the early 1980s, and centered around the Kansas City Art Insitute where I was a student, and the local/regional music scene. Nearby Lawrence, KS was a music hotbed and with Wm. S. Burroughs living locally and doing frequent readings at punk and new music clubs, there was a thriving and long- established underground. There were a number of 'zines published and available in uneven quantities and lots and lots of tape mixes to be found. Tape publishing was a big thing I remember, with elaborately cut and pasted folding inserts. Some of that was great art. Our local used record store had lots of tapes made locally, as well as from Minneapolis and Dallas. In some ways there was an North-South Interstate 35 culture that Kansas City was in the middle of. I'd joined the WELL in 1990 and a year or so later I got a call one evening from a character calling himself Gareth Branwyn, who'd seen some graphic thing I'd uploaded. He asked me if I'd work with him, Peter Sugarman, and Mark Frauenfelder on Beyond Cyberpunk! and I said that sounded like fun. Gareth sent me copies of Going Gaga and bOING bOING. Actually, Beyond Cyberpunk! was a massive introduction to a lot of stuff. Some of the things in it I'd known of, but I hadn't realized how much interconnection there was. The 'zine community played a significant role in stitching a lot of these subcultures together. I started contributing odds and ends to bOING bOING and marveled as Mark, Carla, and Gareth kept making it bigger and slicker. The whole time I was amazed at how hard these guys worked and what a production it was to put out a nationally distributed 'zine. It was through bOING bOING that I got introduced to the Jon and Paco and the Austin Fringeware crowd and the Mondo folks and Factsheet Five. 1994 seemed to be the pinnacle of that scene, but the weblogging phenomenon, while quite different in form from traditional 'zines, is similar in the way it supports a fabric of subcultures and interpersonal connections. To me that's one of the most interesting things about weblogs. I started my own weblog, JIMWICh <http://www.anigami.com/jimwich.html> a year ago and have enjoyed working on it a great deal. I love that there are so many different types of weblogs and journals. I can't really say I have a favorite type, because I actually prefer some at some times and others at other times. This might be because I have more or less time, or my attention span is longer or shorter. But I generally start with a local group that I like and branch out from there. I find out a lot of hard news and things of interest in the weblog community long before I find it in mass print or broadcast media. This is happening more and more. Recently I saw something in Newsweek that I'd seen in a number of weblogs several weeks earlier and thought, "STALE!" I'm fascinated with the way the weblog community supports a sense of "what's up right now." It's similar to what it's like being on the WELL, but even more distributed. I often notice that the WELL buzz lags behind the weblog buzz by a few days. Many of my favorite weblogs are ones that have already been mentioned in preceding posts, but I have to add a few of my favorites: Follow Me Here - a great ongoing weblog of current issues with commentary <http://world.std.com/%7Eemg/blogger.html> Dr. Menlo - a graphical weblog with a progressive political point of view <http://www.drmenlo.com/home.html> Lark Farm - Mike Gunderloy's amazingly great, smart, and eclectic compendium of subject links <http://www.accu.org/cgi- bin/access/access?ssb22Au=www.larkfarm.com/weblog.asp> gmtPlus9 - Andrew Abb's weblog from Osaka, Japan. Full of great art and creative links. <http://www.bekkoame.ne.jp/~aabb/plus9.html> Mister Pants - I love Mister Pants' sense of humor, and his weblog has a great format. <http://www.misterpants.com/01/index.shtml> My own weblog format has changed over time to match what I guess are my own interests. My entries are eclectic and whatever strikes my fancy. I generally feature some technology or device or cool or bizarre vehicles or something from my past, sometimes subjects with historical or descriptive overtones. Most of my posts feature a substantial number of links to multiple sources related to the subject. I've also found it to be a good place to feature pieces on interesting people I know. Doing web-based research on topics and people has been a real learning experience for me. It's the old "teach in order to learn" dynamic. I have a steady readership that I've grown to feel responsible for providing interesting pieces for. It's a strange, but wonderful and rewarding activity.
Linda Castellani (castle) Thu 17 May 01 01:15
<scribbled by jonl Thu 17 May 01 07:16>
Linda Castellani (castle) Thu 17 May 01 01:15
<scribbled by jonl Thu 17 May 01 07:16>
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