Music Blogger Symposium
4. Is your blog a forum to converse with or critique other writers? If so, please recount one (or some) of your more memorable blog dialogs or critiques.
There's been too many great back-and-forths really. I've had a bunch of discussions with K-punk over the years, on all kinds of topics; we have a lot in common but also significant areas of disagreement, and these have sparked some really good debates. The debate about Arctic Monkeys was particularly fruitful, with Mark K-punk taking the stern Futurist line. Another fairly recent one was some exchanges sparked by Carl Wilson, aka Zoilus, and his force-myself-to-overcome-my-revulsion-to-Celine-Dion project. And then there's been this long-running series of Rockism versus Popism skirmishes, which probably started with a post on fanaticism versus dilettantism where I was taking issue with something Tom Ewing had written.
That Poptimism debate is something that has flared up repeatedly over the last four years. Now it is looking utterly dead-locked and spent. Occasionally people will spark it up again half-heartedly and then someone will say, "oh not that again, how boring". But the funny thing is that the only thing more boring than Rockism versus Popism is the absence of that debate. Or a debate of similar weight, with an equivalent sense of something actually being at stake. Which explains why people can't resist sparking it up again every so often. Nothing has taken its place, in terms of getting people worked up.
As a critic in Toronto (and earlier in Montreal), I've often felt a bit isolated from the main hubbub in New York and London--my column would often weigh in on issues de jour but until blogs, it never seemed possible to truly engage. Blogging (as well as the EMP conference) has been a way to undo that, and it has really felt like a whole other career opened up for me since I was able to make those connections via blogging.
Many of my most memorable blog dialogues have involved a small core of regular posters, some of them blog-friends, some friend-friends, and some who happened to Google my site and have stuck around, always for the better.
I want more writers to find my blog (and I want you to post there more, Scott!) because I really can't emphasize enough how incomplete my blog is without a conversation happening through it. Frank Kogan was the first "rock writer" per se to start posting there about two years ago and others have followed, always to the benefit of the posts, which shouldn't even count if there's not a minimum twenty-post comment thread underneath.
But my site should be a pit stop on a huge conversational circuit, and instead it tends to feel very insular. It's not because I don't want to explain myself or encourage a broader conversation (plenty of posts are a little cryptic). One-off conversations with writers I respect tend not to go anywhere because I'm not totally on their radar or don't share their interests (Tom Breihan had a really nice couple of comment posts about the High School Musical phenom here). I lob ideas out into other comment threads to varying effect, and there are a few communities that have a bigger vision of where a conversation can go. The Poptimists LiveJournal community is probably the best conversation zone at the moment, but even that's relatively self-contained (probably good for its stability), largely due to the format of LiveJournal. Generally I'd consider my own effectiveness as a conversation catalyst pretty limited. I hope that rockcritics.com 2.0 will serve this purpose itself; I found it way too late but always enjoy the interviews I read here.
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4. Conversing with other writers