Tag Archives: journalism

Communicating faster than creativity

I ponder in my isolation as only the digital era could provide the question of creativity in our time. We have it and use and present all over, yet I wonder whether we realize the shallowness it exudes in the newness of complexity that all these intersecting signals have created. We raced to get here as fast as we can asking not what it means but rather what it can do, or do better, or faster, or longer, or smaller. We threw our net wide and incorporated the world from streaming internationally to communicating globally. The Earth isn’t as large or mysterious as it once was, the universe too now shrinks more and more. We hunger for information, raw and unchecked, that we aggregate it all to measure its success. Yet through this conglomerate of what we can present we have lost something meaningful, something only human. In our hunger to know we’ve forgotten context and depth. What matters now is a false sense of objective knowledge crowd sourced to the masses. In that importance we deemed the editor unnecessary, the journalist a waste, and the critic ourselves. With the communication of the digital age we all became the critics and informants of our own world, assuming that because we can now get around the critical eye, the critical eye is no longer necessary. Why learn from a historian what you can google on wikipedia? Why read from a journalist what you can learn first hand from twitter? why pay to experience the new when you can create (or decide) it for yourself?

The internet and the digital age has such an ability to create depth and yet all it has been used for is breath. We are losing touch with creativity because we no longer know what it means to be creative. We trust that which we don’t understand and fear that which is unfamiliar. We are as lost as ever despite everything that is helping us get found.

In all these vague generalizations what I really mean to say is something rather simple: We have lost our desire to be challenged intellectually. The 20th century saw the childhood of this concept in art, modernism though born in the 19th century truly came into its self in the 20th. But in so doing it created a world of art that needed to be engaged, thought through, and then understood. Modernism isn’t easy art, you can’t look at it once and understand it, it takes time and thought and engagement and discussion and research and understanding, and an open mind above all. But with all the tools of communication at our fingertips we have no interest in spending time figuring something out, rather we’ll just google it. And in so doing, we fail to fully understand it.

I challenge us and myself to stop googling. I challenge us to return to our tried and true techniques of learning the hard way. Use what has come before us, trust the disciplined approach it takes to be called a historian or journalist. And if through the internet we have come to believe that these academic processes for creating measures of distinction in our society are truly damaged or corrupt then lets fix them.



Best review you’ve ever read? Why?

There has been a lot of discussion lately, especially within the restaurant community, about a restaurant review published on June 11th by Frank Bruni of the New York Times on Ago in Tribeca. Needless to say this was arguably the worst (as in most negative) review by the New York Times (at least that I am aware of) and yet has received the best (as in most acclaim) praise. Here is where the “artistic” relevance to this blog comes from. Is all the praise this review is receiving due to its excellent description of the restaurant? Or is it receiving praise because it has transcended its “primary purpose” (that of a review) and has become a work of literature worth reading? To the extent are more people reading this particular review because of its style, humor, and overall creativity rather than because they are curious about the restaurant?

I am particularly enjoying this issue as being one who regards both the creation of a restaurant as well as the writing of a review as artistic endeavors, or at least as having the potential to be artistic endeavors. So to that end has this review become artistically active because it has so distanced itself from having another purpose, that of informing its readership to the quality of this restaurant. But if it is failing to do that then in reality its a bad review. I’m sure many familiar with the review would defend its informative capabilities and they would probably be right to do so, however one must also acknowledge the bizarre circumstance by which the reviewer was reviewing, its one of those “the wrong person to let that happen to” kind of cases.

What interests me about this scenario is (and this may seem abstract or even dumb to some of you) that this review can almost be seen as say a film adaptation of a work of literature, but one that has surpassed the original work and established itself independently. In regards to the restaurant, Ago doesn’t really serve a purpose, this bizarre wall of wine could have occurred anywhere. What I really mean is that there is nothing unique to who the restaurant is that produces this result.

I’ve made some assumptions along the way here that lead to arguments once had on Literature’s Next Frontie, where does journalism fall in the world of art? With reviews we have a similar situation as there is a primary difference between a reviewer and a writer, that of purpose. A reviewer has a job to do that must fulfill basic requirements in order to be published, a writer is free to write what ever he or she chooses (though it better be good in order to be published, and don’t ask me what good is because since I am not a publisher I do not have to make that terrible decision).

Thus let us turn this into a discussion on two points: First, can a review be art? And if it becomes art, does it then no longer exist as a review? Second, where does this particular review fall and from where is it receiving the praise? For a more culinary crafted discussion on this review please visit Coffee Straws.