Thursday, August 30, 2007

The reviewing future ...

... Morris Dickstein on the Critical Landscape Today. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This is, not surprisingly, a pretty thoughtful piece. But once again, what is said about blogs is dismaying, because it is based on a view of blogs that is at variance with the reality of blogs. It may well be that "book reviews, to be of any value, demand a trained sensibility and real critical expertise" and "need to furnish more than rough-hewn consumer guidance and the colorful peeves of the man in the street." But a blog is simply an electronic publication. If someone with "a trained sensibility and real critical expertise" decides to write a blog, well .... Much criticism of blogs is like people in a medieval scriptorium lamenting books being printed on paper rather than hand-written on parchment.


  1. Dismayed? How about angry? Any anger in that disappointment, Frank?

    Last century's high priests will keep belittling the internet until they can figure out how THEY get to control it. They'll keep telling anyone who'll listen how detrimental it is, to everything they know is proper, until they can devise a scheme to make it pay THEM.

    They know it's only a new publication METHOD. They're not stupid, are they? What they don't know is how to turn this 21st century method into a revenue stream FOR THEM. They're so used to selling paper and hoarding knowledge as the only way of maintaining their elite lifestyles they just can't see any other way to approach the internet but to deride its denizens as incompetents.

    Book reviews will move to the web. So what? Eventually, newspapers will have to move to the web as well. Guys who run printing presses will have to learn a new trade. Maybe they'll learn how to write software to define paid subscriber areas for websites, who knows. Will database designers supplant teamsters driving vans full of newspaper? Could be. And publishers will have to charge less for ad space on a page. But maybe then that will lead to MORE pages, huh? Oh god, more journalists! What a thought.

    The transition will be painful and ugly to watch. Ugliest of all will be the Morris Dicksteins of the old guard spitting on the newbies 'cause their greed knows no other way to protect their turf. And all the while it'll cause you dismay and me anger. Anger at men so greedy they can't bring themselves to share a billions-strong audience with anyone else but their myopic brethren.


  2. My first marriage, Blue, was a post-graduate course in anger management, so I rarely lose my temper now. Apart from that I largely agree. In fact, I was thinking, after I wrote that post, that what this really is all about is loss of income for those who have been paid by print media to opine. The specific difference between criticism online and criticism in print is that people tend to get paid for the latter. This may seem odd coming from someone who gets paid to opine and pays others to, but facts are facts.