Looks like it’s time for my yearly grumbling about reblogging. For those who missed my complaints and explanation of the software last year, criticism can be found in our archives, but to make things simple for those who have never heard of a reblog, it is basically software that enables the reblogger to repost and source blog entries verbatim, with a single click of the mouse. Eyebeam, the organization that originally developed the software, maintained what been the most well read reblog in the city, though they seem to have lost a bit of steam lately, and judging by public subscription stats, Rhizome now easily bests them in readership numbers. The problems remain largely the same; guest rebloggers too frequently simply repost entries from the most well read blogs on the web, boing boing, make, and we-make-money-not-art, and there’s far too much in the way of gimicky art that gets reposted. Jen Stark, is a perfect example of this, as her paper arrangements seem to represent every web geek’s idea of “cool art”, though the ease of creating something with such obvious aesthetic appeal and little else limits the work’s appeal to the fine art world.
Past many of the complaints I reiterated from last year, the Eyebeam reblog lacks energy and feels stale these days. In my opinion, if you can’t find people who are really interested in reblogging, (and they aren’t when they post the same items recent rebloggers put up) they probably shouldn’t be reblogging. One way of avoiding this kind of laziness might be to institute a reader voting system so that rebloggers are provided with feedback on their choices. Boing Boing posts might still end up at the top, but since most of us already read that site I doubt it.
From what I’ve seen over the past year and half, developing a stronger web presence just doesn’t seem to be on the top of Eyebeam’s list of things to do. I suppose that’s fine — Eyebeam has always focused more on tech development — but I think the extent to which the web seems to be considered there is short sighted. For example Eyebeam’s Executive Director Amanda Cowley was interviewed on Channel 10 yesterday (microsoft’s video blog), and while it’s appeared on MTAA’s website, I have yet to see it on their own site. It may actually be there and I just can’t find it, but this of course leads me to my next point; Eyebeam’s site is in desperate need of redesign and new content management. I’ve mentioned this before, but the Eyebeam four quandrant splash page is an annoying block to get to the content you might actually want to see. In addition, it has to be said that a reblog on its own is not powerful enough as a tool to support the web presence of any institution. Eyebeam needs to find a way to put more original content online. Rhizome has announced it has its own project in that vein, and from my stand point, we should all hope that Eyebeam follows suit.
Editors note: The current reblogger Robert Ransick has been doing a good job this week. However, Eyebeam’s last reblogger Stephanie turned the reblog into a DIY bonanza, drawing heavily from Make and Boing Boing. Very little interesting appeared on the reblog during that time.
Editors note (part two): Web critics still receive very little institutional support, which is a problem.