[Paleopsych] NYT: On the Internet, 2nd (and 3rd and . . . ) Opinions

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Arts > Critic's Notebook: On the Internet, 2nd (and 3rd and . . . ) Opinions

    Here's a list of the lists:
    [21]Beatrix: A Book Review Review
    [23]The Elegant Variation
    [24]Conversational Reading
    [25]Golden Rule Jones
    [26]The Reading Experience
    [27]Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind
    [28]Ed Champion's Return of the Reluctant
    [29]The Museum of Online Museums
    [30]I Love Music
    [31]Our Girl in Chicago
    [32]The Truth Laid Bear

On the Internet, 2nd (and 3rd and . . . ) Opinions

    By [52]SARAH BOXER
    Published: March 29, 2005

    Do you remember Charles and Ray Eames's 1977 film "Powers of Ten," in
    which the camera zooms back from the surface of the Earth to a far-off
    point in space? As the details of the planet recede and vanish, new
    features of the universe appear. Before you know it, you've been
    sucked into another order entirely.

    Sometimes the Internet is like that. The traditional objects of
    culture - books, movies, art - are becoming ever more distant. In
    their place are reviews of reviews, museums of museums and many, many

    Ron Hogan, who writes a literary blog called [54]Beatrice.com,
    recently began a second blog, Beatrix: A Book Review Review. He's not
    the only one reviewing reviewers. The blogs Bookdwarf, Conversational
    Reading, The Elegant Variation, Golden Rule Jones, The Reading
    Experience and Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind - all gloss, grade
    or review other people's book reviews. On [55]Gawker.com, a writer
    known as Intern Alexis reviews The New York Times Book Review.

    The site Edward Champion's Return of the Reluctant also bears down on
    The New York Times Book Review and its editor, Sam Tanenhaus. Each
    week the site posts "The Sam Tanenhaus Brownie Watch." It is an act of
    counting. It compares, among other things, the number of pages devoted
    to fiction versus nonfiction and the number of women assigned to
    review nonfiction, promisingthat if there are enough fiction pages or
    enough women Mr. Tanenhaus will be sent a brownie. Otherwise, "the
    brownie will be denied."

    Most book-review reviews are summary, to say the least. Their main
    purpose, it seems, is to get noticed and linked to by more popular
    blogs. This, for example, was Golden Rule Jones's assessment of The
    Chicago Tribune's book coverage on Sunday: "What I liked: Good
    numbers; timely, worthwhile selections. What I didn't like: Reviews
    are a little skimpy."

    What about the other traditional objects of culture: movies, music and
    art? They, too, are becoming distant objects on the Web.

    The Museum of Online Museums site lists Web links not only to real
    museums and exhibitions but also to museums of odd objects (old
    Christmas lights, microphones and casino matchbook covers) and, yes,
    even to a museum of lists.

    The Web site I Love Music appears to be a bulletin board where music
    lovers can discuss music, but many of the questions posed on the site
    are in fact invitations to a list-making. One suggested topic was "the
    foxiest rock critic." Another was "You owned more than one album by
    them, you listened to them fairly often, you knew in your heart of
    hearts that they really weren't very good."

    As these examples suggest, many lists on the Web have distance built
    into them. Respondents comment less on objects of culture than on
    themselves, their taste and their memory. The narcissistic lure can be

    Consider a Web diversion recently cooked up by Laura Demanski, a
    Chicago-based writer and book reviewer, better known on the Web as Our
    Girl in Chicago (or simply OGIC), who sometimes posts on Terry
    Teachout's blog, About Last Night. She asked her readers to list the
    first five movie quotes that popped into their heads.

    Some 200 quotes came in. "Casablanca" topped the list with seven
    mentions, each one with a different quote. The most-cited movie quote
    of all came from "Network," which the Web site gives as : "I'm mad as
    hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" And there was a six-way
    tie for shortest quote:

    "Stella!" ("A Streetcar Named Desire")

    "Thirty-six?" ("Clerks")

    "Plastics." ("The Graduate")

    "Willoughby!!!!" ("Sense and Sensibility")

    "Sincerely." ("Stand By Me")

    "Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!!" ("Star Trek II")

    Ms. Demanski promises "a few general observations" about movie memory.
    What she really delivers, though, is a great set of lists.

    Not all lists are so much fun. There are plenty of boring lists on the
    Web. Everyday, Web contests list their winners. Every blog has a
    running tab of favorite Web sites. Many of them take a good part of a
    minute to scroll through.

    And then there are the Amazonian lists, those offered up by sites like
    [56]Filmaffinity.com, [57]Muiscplasma.com and [58]Music-map.com. Once
    you reveal a book, film or musician you already like, these sites will
    "tell what you will like," Sarah Lazarovic writes on the Web site
    CBC.ca. Such lists, she writes, are "supplanting the good
    old-fashioned review as the primary way for consumers to discover new
    music, movies and literature."

    In other words, the review is being replaced by a shopping list. Which
    brings out something important about the economy of the Web. The more
    lists you're on, the more you're wanted. The premier compliment for a
    Weblog is to be listed (or linked) by lots of other blogs. The Truth
    Laid Bear keeps a list of the most-linked sites, a "blogosphere
    ecosystem." It's like the Social Register.

    The Web is not really a web after all. It is a list of lists.


   21. http://www.artsjournal.com/beatrix
   22. http://www.bookdwarf.com/
   23. http://marksarvas.blogs.com/elegvar/
   24. http://esposito.typepad.com/con_read/
   25. http://goldenrulejones.blogspot.com/
   26. http://noggs.typepad.com/the_reading_experience/book_reviewing/
   27. http://www.sarahweinman.com/
   28. http://www.edrants.com/
   29. http://www.coudal.com/moom.php
   30. http://ilx.p3r.net/newquestions.php?board=2
   31. http://www.artsjournal.com/aboutlastnight
   32. http://www.truthlaidbear.com/ecosystem.php
   52. http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=SARAH%20BOXER&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=SARAH%20BOXER&inline=nyt-per

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