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be curious what people make of Paul Morley's thoughts on 'our world'.
farting !s and belching ?
or has the basic nature of criticism just changed from a monologue to a dialogue?
i'd be curious to hear what you think
is the idea of expert criticism dead on the internet? I don't think anything is really dead till it's gone, but there are trends, and certainly I think that music critics are now more curators in a sense, having opinions, attempting to build up 'credibility' I suppose and then providing recommendations, in this saturation market of all music ever being available all the time, I think criticism in this role has more of a place.
Does 'web 2.0' affect a critics role since everyone can respond? I'm not so sure, I think actually in order to survive print media has become more reliant on popular appeal, you can see this now in how Q magazine's seeming worship of any big pop act, because I imagine they fear if they slag off something everyone likes people won't buy it.
By having the debate in 'web 2.0' I think allows more room for triggering debates etc. I could be wrong on the Q thing but they seem pretty unwilling to ever say they don't like anything, or even give a great account for what they do like.
I also sometimes wonder these days if there's more angst in criticism than in the music :P
Most of the time when I recommend something, people will post a negative reaction and a few people might mention they liked it, in person or in a different place, months later.
I guess the question is context. Some people won't listen to anything I recommend because I like Uffie and Panic at the Disco. Some people will listen to things to I recommend because I like Tom Waits, The Shins, Blondes and Jeniferever, but will be surprised that what I recommend is something garish like FOE or slinky like New Look. But perhaps my taste is less 'defined' but I do hate most things, and rarely waste my time talking about them or deconstruct what it is I don't like, because it just feels like a waste of everyone's time (unless it's Jessie J or Anna Calvi or something getting across the board praise, despite being less than amazing)
I do wonder if criticism and analysis have a place in a world of 'likes' and recommendations and I think it's good that critics are having an existential crisis about it. I just think the bigger issue is context of opinion, which say, a record label has based on its back catalogue or a columnist who only writes once a fortnight might have but a blogger that posts nearly 10 times a day/everything half-decent, doesn't have.
started by completely identifying with Simon Reynold's point in Retromania about having too much music all the time just completely annihilates context, and ability to let it sink in. I listen to music almost perpetually, often just slinking my way back through my collection, sometimes on radio, sometimes just on reccomendations, but due to my pretty sucky lack of employment at the moment I have too much free time.
I am as such like a kid in a candy shop in a way but this almost invalidates any music criticism, as if I hear about something I'll just listen, make up mind and then move on. It's got to the point where there are plenty of albums I've bought off hand (damn you amazon one click purchase button + booze combination) and haven't got round to giving proper listens. Even albums I've liked recently don't get any kind the amount of listening time (i'm consciously now trying to fix this, but I lack attention span often)that all those albums that got me this obsessed did years ago did. In a sense I feel slightly unable to be really converted by criticism, since there's always another album anyway, I'm not really latched onto any especial critic, I'll probably heard it already if there's any buzz around it...
It's got to the point that I'm actually looking forward to having less time where I can have music on in background at least with a job (that and the money of course) so I necessarily cut down my intake, and am more picky. Then I may have a greater dependence on gatekeepers, critics to point out the really essential albums, and I think with people on the internet the demographics of obsessives like me are far distorted, loads of losers with no life and too much free time :P
time is the major commodity of the modern world. even people who can listen to music all day, everyday, still have to make decisions about what to spend their time on, when there are so many other options.
seems obvious but my own prediction for the future is that there will be sites and services which have a huge depth of content and those which make sense of it, and offer up a few suggestions, which repeatedly are great and breed an element of trust. i think people need to know that someone has spent a crapload of time doing their research and 'this' is the best they've found from all of it (which is why our end of the year list is popular with people who rarely visit the site)
what Spotify and Last.fm essentially want to do in long run is remove listener intervention in their music, so that they would accurately automatically play music favourable to the listener in a constant stream without need for interaction (don't think we're close to this atm), and then there would be two types of music listener, the active and the passive. The latter arguably have automated the gatekeeper, the algorithm is the critic, whereas the former are reliant on flesh and blood ones.
Or this will never happen and I am speaking complete bollocks.
joe public being able to comment has the potential to nurture debate, challenge spurious statements, explore and further dissect any ideas presented.
it's also a chance for brickbats, silly spats and trolling to thrive.
i feel like my default old-before-my-time stance would normally be a romantic return to a strict diet of print and lots of words that we can properly hold it our hands and read.
but i've had too many eye-opening/interesting/funny/informative/combative debates on these boards to dismiss the format and these dialogues.
People I have asked have kinda agreed. I think the boards end up with 'debate' about a release, whereas review comments usually are negative slurs about the 'review' itself. Or potshots at the reviewer. Would much rather people talked about THE MUSIC, on here, rather than about whether they disagree with something being a 7 or an 8 (I want people to be able to rate records out of 10 on the new design - you can do it already but not a lot of people DO do it)
Jaron Lanier in You're Not a Gadget described most comments on the internet as being like 'drive-by shootings'.
One thing Morley said that's quite on the money is 'The Guardian are now merely the hosts at some grotesque dinner party waiting for these guys to come in and flail them.'
but can also think that could be a gross exaggeration of the effects of some tosser on them making stupid comments? I sometimes browse comments threads after a guardian review and ponder why some of the critics choose to launch into them and challenge spurious insults to their credibility. Maybe I should have more appreciation that these threads can be really dumb, and shouldn't expose reviewers to ridicule.
because re the subject of this piece, I think if you look at the really old reviews on this site's archives, they did get a lot more comments (even though loads less people were reading them overall) because there WAS a genuine dialogue between reviewer and audience.
But I think at the basic level that was a lot to do with the infancy of both online criticism and more general music discussion as mediums - a lot of the early stuff on DiS just isn't very well written, which I think is largely because nobody was actually trying to be a journalist back then, just get a bit of music and share some opinions with a much smaller community of people, most of whom were engaged in writing on some way or other.
That said, in the Diver/Sky era there was more dialogue, largely because DiS had a fulltime staff who probably felt more like part of the community at large, which they probably don't so much now.
also, since the Diver/Sky era, blogging, twitter and facetwunt have really taken off, giving people an outlet for their opinions.
a lot of the very opinionated people who once frequented the site, now let off steam on blogs or start their own, DiS-like sites (Ripfork RIP) of stuff they like, written in a way they would prefer to read things.
also, having a team, in an office, meant there were discussions with eachother via features, with lots of people riffing off of eachother. interestingly, a lot of the weekly debates generated a lot of discussion, to the detriment of the this board (which is about 3-5 times busier now than it was 4 years ago) and also, this pieces surprisingly didn't garner that much in the way of hits, despite the number of comments they often generated.
i think there are a lot of factors at work at the moment, which have made our comment sections less like they once were.
several of those comments are from first time posters and it does stick in the craw a bit, but if you look at other stuff that's had comments recently - Nils Frahm, Noel Gallagher, Future Islands - it's all been pretty cordial, not to mention the fact that a lot of people will press a like button or whatever rather than just say some positive formula.
people tend to leave nice comments on nasty reviews that they agree with :)
or on v.positive reviews of little known stuff.
stuff that's weirder, is the guy moaning about the negative review of Biophilia (which got 8/10!)
the "likes" on editorial are weird. such a teeny percent of people who read something click the like button. whereas, if we run a stream or a video, they sometimes get 500+ likes.
as that implies an equal relationship between the different parties.
As it stands, the limit of encouraging dialogue seems to be that magazines/websites post up a review and open it up to comments. It's very rare that you'll actually get a discussion flowing from it.
Old school critics (like True and Morley) seem to think that they engage in dialogue, but they don't really, and they seem scared that the world of the internet has meant that they're status as taste-makers is undermined.
If either of those two were still able to offer some level of analysis and insight (akin to the Sunday papers' relationship with the dailies), then I don't think that they'd have any reason to worry. As it is, they can't, and they do.