Monday, December 12, 2005

Los Angeles Times Book Blog - RIP - 2005 - 2005

Actually, I am not being fair.

It is impossible for anything to die, that never lived.

As I said in my earlier post...

.... after a glacial roll-out, the LA Times bookblog has not only stopped further evolving, but has even commenced to devolve while yet in its pre-embryonic state.

Talk about lack of intelligent design!

As proof of this assertion, I offer today's - Sunday morning - 'blog' (and, yes, there is a reason for the quotes marks); on it are ten posts on it by an excellent array of writers. For those ten posts there is a grand total of exactly ... 1 ... comment.

Yup. In a city of four million people, a county of ten million people and a region with over 30 million people - one, single, solitary (uno) comment is all the excitement this blog could muster with ten posts.

And even then, this cowboy had to provide that sole post in a massively failed effort to spur any kind of debate. And you know if they print my comments - they'll print anyone's comments.

To understand this unparalleled failure of communication, unprecedented in the entire, if brief, history of blogs, an overview of the short history of bookblog might be useful.

And don't worry - this will only take... seconds... to read.

First, it was claimed to be interactive.

However - not a single poster has ever mentioned or referred to any of the comments, much less actually responded to them. And during the long dormant period after the posts finally began, I posted responses to each of the first three writers writing about an LA aesthetic in literature, and responded to the very specific points on each post - as did one or two others.

Yet, there were zero responses from the posters.

Then when a fourth writer posted, and quite inadvertently, libeled one of LA's greatest artists - Sandow Birk - I explained in a post exactly why what he said was a slur on that artist's good name.

Still no response.

Then when I checked to see if anyone else had responded to any of these posts, all those first posts had... vanished! And so I , too, stopped responding.

So here we have a 'blog' that does not interact with its readers and destroys all of its posts.

And that is a shame because there have been some superb posts. One of them even had one of the single best descriptions of Los Angeles I have ever read. Yet - alas - it no longer exists. The Times has wiped the slate clean.

But even that pales besides the real problem of the blog. In it, every single writer selected to post is saying ... essentially... the same thing.


When you look at the immense diversity of opinion that can be found in blogs in this city - it is incredible that the LA Times can produce a blog where it is inconceivable that even one statement of belief or philosophy made by any of these writers could be disagreed upon by any of the other writers.

Clearly, no one capable of independent thought will ever be allowed to post on this blog.

And that is the biggest crime.

In a city of endless diversity, (and a city that spawned the first major international on-line literary war) - bookblog has posts by carefully vetted people of every racial, sexual, religious and ethnic type imaginable. But as for any diversity of opinion or thought that might disagree with the official party line - My God! - we can't have any of THAT in the LA Times!

Finally, to close the very slim book on this failed experiment - imagine a bookblog in the New York or London Times. By now, the press would be reporting on the bar room wars raging among writers with differing points of views - just like the free-for-all over on the business blog is about transfer over to talk radio this week.

For just one example - can you imagine Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley singing 'Kumbaya' together on the pages of a New York Times literary blog?

And in London - where visiting a dentist can cause more blood to run than if Guy Fawkes had succeeded, a literary blog would enrich every dry cleaner busy cleaning thrown cocktails from clothing.

But in LA Times bookblog... ten posts.

One cowboy comment.



amyalkon said...

I used to post responses (corrections, actually) on Susan Spano's dull, error-filled Paris blog, but Spano rarely let any through.

An acquaintance of mine had a similar experience -- with a number of the blog comments she wrote correcting Spano's lazy reporting never seeing the light of day.

Contrast an insight by this acquaintance (that I posted on my blog) to the lackluster stuff typically posted by Spano, who's paid for her words. Here's the piece -- which relates to the fires and riots -- which I put up in July:

And my own policy, on my blog, is total freedom of speech unless somebody's libeling another person or posting spam. In fact, some anonymous person once posted something saying I looked like a trannie, or something like that. It's still up. If you have to cherry-pick comments to make yourself look good, and so there's never any argument with your work -- well, perhaps you should be working harder instead, and letting the chips fall where they may.

A pity the LA Times didn't take advantage of some of the truly interesting bloggers writing for free from Paris. There are a number of them, none of whom are named Spano, who post real insights about the country -- even venturing beyond the confines of the ritzy seventh arrondissement and talking to human beings who do not work in ritzy organic farmers' markets!

The Gambino Crime Family said...

You're right. Spano's seemed to be a dull little blog the few times I checked it out. She either seemed to be complaining how much it cost to live in Paris (who would have thought?) or boring us with blah descriptions of the neighborhoods where'd she been.

As far as the Times blog it was pretty much wall-to-wall book plugs this week. Read this. Buy that. Yawn. No thanks.

MikeZ said...

There was an article in the Sunday Times (ironically enough) about the decline of the printed newspaper. One of the stories they told was of a guy advertising for help in his small business. His ad in the SF Chronicle got 4 or 5 responses. His ad on Craigs list got about 500.