zine to blog 2: a mapping of questions

[Part Two of a Ten-Part Series on Zines and Blogs]

In developing a historical narrative of zines and blogs, some preliminary mapping of questions and issues is warranted. Here goes. I will take up each of these areas in turn. I had originally intended to write the instalments in this series on a weekly basis, but given the vast scope of each question, the extent of scholarly roots each one mines, and the practical limitations on my time, this might be more like a fortnightly or monthly exercise. If you don’t know what I’m talking about because you missed the Introduction to this series, then go read this first. Additionally, while my emphasis is on music as a case study, I think that this framework may be equally applicable to other forms of communication that we’ve torn from our analog gardens and crammed into our digital talkboxes.

I propose seven main areas of our experience of music that change in the transition from the era of zines to an era of blogs. They are, in brief:

1. Time. Blogs are fast; zines are slow.

2. Space. Blogs compress more space than zines do/did.

3. Generational effects. Those growing up on RSS and IM are unaccustomed to older, slower modes of communication. This breeds expectations of high speed, and mass misunderstandings of slower things.

4. Media and Technology. Industry-driven technological imperatives and trends in communication design favour speed and volume over content. This means more than just a larger number of typographical errors.

5. Ownership. Digital infrastructure is primarily privately owned, whereas relevant older media (e.g., postal services) were/are public utilities. This affects the structure of content exchange, accessibility, and the potential for challenges to dominant ideologies and prevailing regimes of circulation.

6. Intellectual Property. People living in the era of blogs place a high value on the free exchange of information, partly because technology makes it easier to stage protests against the status quo of intellectual property ownership. This affects the way the blog is used. The concern about copyright infringement in the era of zines, while present, was never the front page story it has been in this era of DRM.

7. Relationship to Mainstream Media. Blogs get used in ways unheard of during the era of zines, which, as a general rule, competed with mainstream media ideologically. Blogs compete with, but also often complement mainstream ideologies. Additionally, zines never had any significant business application other than promoting bands, labels, and themselves. Lots of difference here.

So those are the seven “chapters” of this series. I will be taking them on one at a time over the next few weeks. As always, comments, suggestions, and book, article, zine and blog references are encouraged.

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