Malevich - Black Square and Red Square (1915)
This is written from the position of devil’s advocate. I’m writing it because I think that what this blog is trying to do is important and necessary.
I read the blog today in its entirety and I see that it is already drifting from one topic to another without any structure. The danger is that it will soon become unmanageable, or simply off-putting to a reader. Consequently I would argue that there must be some structure imposed (tabs at the top etc.) so that people who visit the blog can manoeuvre easily. If the contributors can agree on what the blog is for and at whom it’s aimed, that should give guidance to the format that the blog should take.
The danger is that rather than offering something to non-contributors, the blog will simply become a forum for the contributors, discussing issues of interest to them which are inevitably going to be quite disparate.
While the traditional blog format works for posting interesting quotes, or linking to that suicide note for example, it is not conducive to what seems to be the aim of the contributors. That aim appears to be for something much greater in size and more far-reaching. The question then arises of whether the blog format is even the right one. Will its form simply constrain the efforts of the contributors?
A less important issue is definitions. Admittedly this skirts close to what is arguably the realm of pedantic academia (this is a danger that Joe and Terry are very alert too), but terms (e.g. socialist, workers, capitalism, etc.) are appearing in people’s contributions and I wonder whether there needs to be a reference for readers. This may be too much, I admit, however if the endeavour of the project is to be a (political/social) resource for others, then at least the issue of definitions should be considered.
Joe’s concern over too much theory and analysis is an important one (vital, as he points out, if one is serious about undertaking actions that make a better world), but the danger is that we assume that everyone is as critically aware (I can’t think of a less pompous term) of the pitfalls of modern living as are the contributors. If the blog is meant to educate/inform, then analysis and theory are vital. As Terry mentioned: there is a need to mediate contemporary society.
Finally, with the issue of editing, I would argue for a strict, if not downright bastardly, approach to entries. Clarity, focus and relevance should be always present. Again, to go back to the first issue raised, the stated aims and goals of the blog should determine the format. If socialism or an alternative to capitalism is to be discussed, then the entries must be excellent; the reality is that the world is so markedly stacked against those arguing for alternatives that the tools that are offered to would-be adherents must be impossibly sharp.
At which point I will take issue with the entries entitled Mask and Marx’s beard. The latter offers little or nothing to the reader. However if it would be combined with the quote attested to Marx, I would have less to take issue with. Mask however raises much more pressing concerns. I would argue that the entry does not seem to argue anything, existing only as an attempt to draw more people to the website. The only text that seems to accompany the images are copyright symbols that assert that all rights are reserved to the artist.
The issue of private property is an important one to discuss, but I assume that this is not what this entry is trying to do. It may well be the failing of the format of the blog to not offer these entries a proper place, but as it stands, they do not attempt to contribute as the other entries do. If contributors are serious about the aim of this blog then such an entry needs to be taken down, or added to. It cannot be the aim of entries to this blog to advertise a contributor’s other websites (this is provisioned for by the blogroll widget). If such lax entries are allowed, then I would argue that there is a danger that this project will lose steam in a month or so.
All the points raised here stem from the simple question of what is this blog for? And who is it for? In the initial contributions, these questions were addressed, but those opinions should now lead to a formulation of structure and form for what could be an excellent resource for people. Julia’s entry offered the best example so far of the perfect marriage of theory and the praxis of everyday life, underlining why this project is so important and so vitally needed.
- Use tabs at the top more to allow new readers to navigate the site easily, finding that initial something of interest to them, that may hopefully lead to them checking more things.
- About Tab: Could contain the motivations of the contributors, essays (what is the form to be used?) on what the project is about, on the format of the blog, etc.
- Theory Tab a.k.a. Dan’s Tab: should be the sole realm of theory for theory’s sake. There is a place and time for everything, Dan’s esoteric rants are for here!
- Analysis Tab: Analysis of events, postings of interest, etc.
- Breaking down into Politics, Society, Economy, Culture, etc. – Sociological images is a good example of a blog format analysis
- Taking Action Tab: Taking up Joe’s point again, there needs to be a strong emphasis on offering practical undertakings to people. This this section could include links to other sites, opinions or reports on participating in certain activities, analysis of such things, etc.
- There needs to be a strong editorial line on what is put on the blog. Each entry has to be able to argue its relevance. Also a word limit could be considered – preventing such excesses that this entry is guilty of, but more, forcing the contributor to clarify and focus their entries.
- The form of entries should be somewhat standardised (e.g An intro image, and then text). Also what type of language to be used, not being esoteric, but neither writing informally. The issue of a style for the entries is to prevent the blog becoming disjointed and off-putting.
- Perhaps topics could be proposed bi-weekly and contributors could each decide to take the issue up in their own way, and then a discussion could flow from each person’s research, opinions etc.
In conclusion: this project has incredible potential for all those involved, but it will sink or swim solely on how committed the contributors are when they sit down to read, write, re-write, re-write again, curse and publish.