Culture’s (Mis)Use of Technology

Below is an excerpt from an excellent post by Seth Godin on the way Culture uses technology, and the challenge of getting “the good guys”, as opposed to the spammers, excited and eager to use new technology.

Our Culture (high and popular) is usually created by people who are happy with the systems the world has given them. Magazine editors don’t spend a lot of time wishing for better technology. Opera singers focus more on their singing than on microphone technologies. Novelists proudly use typewriters.

Sure, there are exceptions like Les Paul (who developed the electric guitar) and Mitch Miller (who invented reverb) but these exceptions prove the rule: often, culture is invented by people who are too busy to seek out new technology.

…The best new media (like blogs and possibly Twitter) open doors to people who didn’t used to have a voice. The worst ones (like blogs and possibly Twitter) merely create new venues for scams and senseless yelling.

When I think about where dance critics fall on Godin’s grid, there would probably be a handful in the top left corner and another, increasingly growing number in the top right corner.   In addition, a small number falls into both categories: mainstream critics who are fortunately still employed or getting freelance work from print publications, but also have hopped on the blogging bandwagon in an effort to reach a broader audience and create visibility for themselves.  Wendy Perron, Editor-in-Chief of the monthly publication Dance Magazine, posts thoughts on her blog every few days, and The New York Times dance critic Claudia La Rocco started an online and offline Performance Club to engage arts audiences.  They’re also doing Culture a favor by embracing new technology and interacting with readers.  But the small pool of people in both categories is an exception, and the ongoing discussion about the future of dance criticism often pits mainstream critics against dance bloggers.  Ideally, the top left corner of the grid will recognize the value in seeking out new technology and will shift to the right, but this will be most successful if print publications as a whole, not just their technologically-curious journalists and critics, also make the shift.

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