The Reblog Decoder Ring

by Art Fag City on August 21, 2006 Events

Some time ago I wrote a post titled Raising the Reblog Bar, which expressed my dissatisfaction with the number human-tech-bot rebloggers reblogging the miracles of modern technologies at Eyebeam. Artist Tom Moody expanded on this post later saying:

Generally speaking, there are entirely too many stories in the category Michael Bell-Smith calls Talking Refrigerators.

These are whimsical items about some engineering marvel, usually from a college robotics department or venture capital startup, that are at best consumerist PR and at worst the kind of ridiculous ’50s gee whiz utopianism that we all should know by now has a down side and a dark side (just thinking of that nightvision video clip of the helicopter gunner blasting a wounded Iraqi soldier to hamburger–“squeeze the joystick, instant no soldier!”).

These posts soliticed one of two reactions from my readers: The first tended to be something along the lines of “Hear Hear!”, and the second, and more common reaction was, “What the fuck is a Reblog?”

This reaction is an excellent example of some of issues that were discussed in the post “New Media: Why It Doesn't Suck (Part Two)”, where I don't actually talk about why it doesn't suck, but do discuss how the user experience gap is keeping New Media art mired in mystery.

So let's clear up a few things for readers:

What is a reblog, and why should I care?

The complete definition of a reblog is not actually featured on the splash page of Eyebeam's reblog, so this contributes to the problem, but to be fair the full description is a little lengthy. Here is the most relevant part from their About page:

The reBlog project is an effort by Eyebeam R&D and Stamen Design to make it easy to preview and republish articles, web log posts, and web links. The goal is to allow individuals and organizations to filter content and republish material that is most useful to their respective audiences. The first example of a reBlog achieved with this system can be found at

Why do I need this if I have a newsreader, or what the fuck is a newsreader?

I never understood what a newsreader did until I used it, so I think simply using one is the best way to understand how it functions. But for those who already know this is never going to happen newsreaders or news aggregators are free “accounts” users create that pull information from sites a person checks regularly. Simply “subscribe” to the site, and your computer will notify you instantaneously when new content is uploaded.

If you already have a newsreader, than you probably know that building a comprehensive “account” can be time consuming. Not everyone cares to put the time into it. Since Eyebeam has countless feeds relating to art and technology, and invites people to reblog who are known to be Internet mavericks, readers often discover content they would not find on their own on the Internet via the Eyebeam reblog.

Why in God's name are we talking about this again?

Well, frustrated readers, as a result of the reblog critique I wrote in June, I have been invited to be a reblogger at Eyebeam, a position that starts tomorrow, and runs through Sept 4. This means two things. One, posting around here will probably be a little lighter than usual because I will be busy “curating” the Internet*. Two, it means that you can look forward to a follow up post tomorrow which discusses my specific mandates for the reblogger project. Do watch for this, because I happen to think this will make reblogging very interesting for the next week or so.

*This does not include the Emerging Artist Series, which will continue to be posted Wednesday afternoons, (or Thursday mornings.)

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