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La Scena Musicale Online Reviews and News / Critiques et Nouvelles

Visit La Scena Musicale Online Reviews. [Index] Critiques de La Scena Musicale Online

It's a blogger's world

By Norman Lebrecht January 31, 2007

There are 40 million blogs – live online diaries – and 40,000 new ones signing up every day. I have this statistic on good authority, from the girl who invented the genre.

Mena Trott, five years ago, wrote a piece of whimsy about her techie husband not letting her buy a banjo and was ‘taken aback’, she says, by the volume of responses. With husband Ben she invented TypePad, the blogging template, and is now at 29, president of Six Apart, a California company that defines the blogosphere. Hillary Clinton and Al Gore sit at her feet, knowing that the next US presidential election cannot be won without blog support.

Blogging is changing the culture day by day, leaving the craft of reflective writing in disarray. Authors who have spent years searching for the mot juste, polishing a text to perfection, get sent out by their publishers to joust with bloggers. The Oxford University Press employs a fulltime editor in New York whose job it is to email eminent academics and order them to blog on her site. Newspapers, like the Guardian and the New York Times, oblige their professional art critics to engage with bloggers, testing carefully contextualised views against vituperative hip-shooters. Cultural conversation is in flux.

New pop artists are broken more often by blog chat than by the music industry – witness the rise of Arctic Monkeys and Lily Allen. Orchestral players blog with home-going concertgoers while the last notes are still in their ears. The own-label recordings and free downloads that many orchestras and soloists produce are themselves a kind of musical blog, an entry ticket to the pond. Opera Chic, an amateur musician in Milan, has broken more La Scala scandals than the mainstream media. Six Apart keeps pushing out the boundaries.

Where is it all heading? I asked the mother of all bloggers on last Sunday. ‘Traditional media is still where we will go to get our professional criticism,’ Mena Trott reassures me, ‘blogging is mostly for fun.’ But Mena also believes in a need for a navigation system to allow web browsers to distinguish between quaint and cracked, dull and downright dangerous - and particularly to enable the literary and cultural universe to establish criteria of excellence before critical debate becomes a swamp. The first site to do so will win the key to the media future.


To be notified of the next Lebrecht article, please email mikevincent at scena dot org

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