It’s website review day here at Art Fag City! Today we discuss two sites only, Frieze, whose new site makes me very happy, and the Eyebeam reblog, a new media website, now trailing behind traditional art publications in what some might argue is their own medium of expertise. Let the reviews begin!
Until recently, I’d been very frustrated by the Frieze Magazine website. Their publication is amongst my favorites, but it’s expensive as hell in the States, and their site barely had any content, there were next to no images, and it was difficult to navigate (the Way Back Machine only provides broken documentation of the website, so those who have never been will just have to take my word for it). Hello overhaul! RSS feeds. Check. Large images. Check. Reviews, news and color coded search functions. Check! Predictably, the content on the site is great, (
as far as I can tell, it’s no different than what’s in the magazine). I like that they publish articles tangentially related to art, such as Different Thinking, an interview with Rob Janoff, the designer of Apple’s logo, along side art reviews such as Steven Stern’s excellent Whitney Biennial write-up. My one wish however, is that the site had a blog that updated at least twice a day and open comments, (UPDATE: you can comment in the reviews and comment sections which are web only). Site and magazine specific content gives readers a reason to use both publications differently, and while I’m clearly biased, I really believe blogs add life to otherwise largely static sites.
Only two months ago I observed that I’d stopped reading Eyebeam’s reblog, though I wasn’t overly specific about the problems past the site needing a redesign. Certainly, that’s still the case, though to be clear, this would involve rethinking the blog as a whole, since on a very basic level the technology no longer meets the needs of Internet surfers. As websites such as Buzzfeed, Rhizome and even smaller operations like c-monster have shown, web curating on its own (ie simply reposting material) generally isn’t enough; editorial comment is essential. Eyebeam’s software allows rebloggers to do this, but people rarely do because it’s a lot more work and the position is unpaid.
The publishing platform itself can be described as a customized rss feed reader that allows bloggers to republish posts at the touch of a button. Knowing that a variety of source material is essential to any good reblog, optimizing the functionality of the software they’re currently working with involves some rethinking of the recent feed pruning. There simply aren’t enough art website feeds on their list to create a of successful mix of art and technology. Frieze Magazine, Modern Art Notes, Edward Winkleman, RHIZOME, Tom Moody, Art Review.com, c-monster, MTAA-RR, James Wagner, and even myself aren’t in their feeds, and there’s no good reason for this. It’s not like these sites aren’t relevant to new media artists, and a reblogger can certainly manage searching through a few more articles. In addition to this, the only social bookmarking (del.icio.us) feed remaining is the eyebeam-reblog tag, which ensures that only active eyebeam readers have any say in the content. Surely heavy del.icio.us users such as wizardishungry, 53os, eddietainment, and cory_arcangel would add something very significant to the reblog.
In the event anyone is wondering how much progress the Eyebeam reblog has made over the last two years, I’d like to point to their bloglines subscriber numbers, which have actually decreased slightly from 104 readers to 102 during this time. Granted this isn’t empirical evidence the blog isn’t as well read as it used to be — there’s more than one feed reader out there and to be honest I’m sure their traffic has grown — but there’s also a lot more people on the web. If Eyebeam wants their reblog to remain relevant, some effort to address these issues is clearly needed.