I’m going through some of this, as a chaser to We’ve Got Blog.
This is a list of essays and online comments that paint a modern picture of blogging and online dynamics. I’m not reading all of these - some are focused on PR, advertising and economics - which aren’t interesting to me at the moment.
After hunting around, I also found this syllabus for Ribbonfarm’s class The Art of Longform. This shared enough crossover that I decided to pepper in some of that list, to get a picture of what is being disseminated about online writing in the last few years.
I’m going to take some notes here about this group of essays, as a continuation of my Notes: We’ve Got Blog (2002) steno.
"Geeks, MOPs, and sociopaths in subculture evolution" by David Chapman - and a response “Subcultures aren’t dead” by @allgebrah.
Both authors make good points here - I never thought subcultures were dead, but I definitely thought the ‘underground’ had been abandoned during the early 2010s when it seemed that everyone suddenly surfaced on the Internet, nothing was hidden and formerly underground people were now entrepreneurs. (Very similar to the picture that Toby Shorin paints in his “After Authenticity”.)
However, if you step back, I feel like it’s obvious to see that ‘the underground’ has held. I mean if I’m defining ‘the underground’ as this hip, exclusive, stylish place hidden from view - well, that definition is kind of repulsive, so I don’t care whether it’s still here or not. But if ‘the underground’ just consists of unknown people - presumably remarkably talented or interesting people - all you need to do is look around your physical neighborhood to know that they are quite well hidden still.
I know a kid who does pipe-cleaner art down the street that is SENSATIONAL and I can guarantee you’ll never encounter him by random chance. Most people in the neighborhood aren’t aware of him. (He made me a ‘teenage minotaur’ character that is hanging on the lamp just above me.)
Of course, looking at people as ‘geeks’ or ‘mops’ or ‘the underground’ tends to overdramatize all of it - which is fine, given that - if I try to publicize and bring cultural prestige to the pipe-cleaner kid down the street - that necessarily involves some overdramatization.