why i’m not a futurist

over the past weekend i participated on a panel about the future of avant-garde literary publishing with some very smart people within and without the publishing biz (namely: Ian DreiblattHolladay PenickSarah Leonard, and Peter Dimock).

i tried to argue (i think as a big-data subversion method) (is such possible?) that in the face of content glut, the rise of review culture could be harnessed to create a better literary culture:

If one aspect of the technological revolution is an increasingly networked citizenry (even if that network is a commercial one like Facebook or Twitter), and another aspect of the new cybernetics is the rise of review culture seen in places like Goodreads and Yelp, then one helpful response is to call upon our intelligentsia to more purposefully participate in the crowd-sourced curating and gatekeeping. That is, to write reviews (“substantial” ones in places like The New Inquiry or Rain Taxi or even mini-reviews in places like Goodreads), not so much for the reviews themselves (which, to understate it, may vary in quality) or the (rather minuscule) publicity such reviews might at first generate, but for the inculcation (in academics, their students, in writers) of the habit of critical participation in contemporary literary culture.

We have been given the infrastructure, whether we like it or not, by these new networks to create a culture. If we invest ourselves and our time, this will create the culture.

[Read the rest here.]


other interesting things said and heard in that room:

no one eats off of a gift economy.

corporations are no longer paying for banner ads because they are ineffectual. instead (and terrifyingly) they are paying for “sponsored content” where a blogger endorses a product in her own voice.

it’s hard to monetize transcendence. 

target may know youre preggers before you do.

avant-garde publishing only exists (only ever existed) in the interstices/margins/as parasites upon larger corporate publishing.

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