Saturday, 1 March 2014

Dead End Media

Stewart Cole is worried that social media is having an "erosive" effect on Canada's poetry culture:
Facebook (as does its midget cousin, Twitter) encourages the knee-jerk; there’s nothing wrong with spontaneity, of course, but when first or truncated or undeveloped thoughts—the only kinds Facebook really encourages—come to take precedence over considered, crafted, elaborated discourse, discussion is so impoverished that it no longer warrants the name, becoming mere chatter.
He wants writers to put their "social-media minutes" to better use:
We have a unique opportunity in Canada to forge a literary culture rooted in mutual awareness, engagement, and respect—even amid sometimes voracious disagreement. And make no mistake, I acknowledge that such a culture is already being forged, as the emergence in recent years of public venues like CWILA, Lemon Hound, and Canadian Poetries as well as the continuance of such venues as Michael Lista’s column for the National Post, the Véhicule Press Blog, Northern Poetry Review (and of course literary journals like The Puritan) attest. At the same time, however, it seems clear that too much of the limited energy that might be used to craft contributions to such public venues is being squandered in engagements with the broadstroke, binaristic, too often uncivil, and ultimately insubstantial pseudo-public spaces of social media.While such spaces often serve as powerful tools of dissemination (indeed I myself have been directed to interesting articles, books, etc. by peeking in on people’s Twitter feeds, and my own reviews get widely shared on social media), as platforms for considered discussion they present us with dead ends.
Phoebe Wang seems to have similar concerns:
The venues where literary critical debates take place matter and can mold that debate into rigorous shapes and larger arguments. Do we lack public forums for literary debate? Maybe not, though the amount of space allocated to reviews and criticism in national publications is hard-won. The platforms that are available are segmented and imperfect—the recent open letters and responses to Carmine Starnino’s interview in CV2 that took place on individual and publisher websites, a smattering of magazines, the CWILA blog, and on Facebook were exasperating, yet engrossing. Surely Canadian writers deserve better forums. If these online venues are the reality of the critic’s production, I would call for a closer awareness of how they affect our capacity for attention, and the kind of discussions that they deliver.

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