Saturday, May 23, 2009

Don’t Stand Me Down

Who saw this coming? Apart from the whole money thing which has been busy extracting all interest from the news for the last six, eight months. And the way no-one wants to buy things on paper any more when they can get them for free online. Stewart Gardiner says ‘it wasn’t the web that necessarily did for Plan B’, pointing to the ‘advertising recession’ instead. Isn’t that driven by the web, too? The other day I left rather florid comment at Cultural Snow, which wound up:

Someone commented here recently that Twitter won’t replace blogging because it’s all links, there needs to be something for it to link to. Blogging is similar – there’s more to get your teeth into, but still half the point is to pick up recommendations of ‘proper’ things.

The interesting questions are, how is ‘proper’ going to be redefined by the internet age? How will money fit in (because it must, if art is not to be marginalised by technology)? And of course – is a pop song still a pop song if only five people have heard it?

The ‘proper’-ness of a magazine is in the effort it takes to put together, and the collaboration it entails. And, OK, the money. Stephen Pastel says in a comment on Everett True’s music blog: ‘ego’s ok sometimes but there was great community in this’, which is a great summary of ET’s career. Of course that community can continue, as Everett says, at the Plan B website, but it will have lost the focus it currently has. Maybe something will grow out of Plan B, as Plan B grew out of Careless Talk Costs Lives. I hope so, and I hope there is community in that too. Because the thing about blogs is, there is always one person’s voice to be heard above the others, they can’t do what a magazine does, that assault from all sides at once, that giddying, mob enthusiasm. We needed you, Plan B. Thanks for being there.

A better, more specific elegy (one of many, I’m sure) at the always fabulous Attic Plan blog.


Anonymous said...


I had drifted away from Plan B of late, but, regardless, it was comforting to know that it was there. Oddly, I tidied my spare room this afternoon, rearranging my old CTCLs and Plan Bs, and moving the ET-tippexed guitar, in the process.

I don't know if you've had a look at the latest LRB, but there's a David Runciman piece on Wikipedia in it, which touches on the same points you make regarding the necessity for more solid, written, material. The alternative, apparently, is epistemic circularity, which in turn leads to 'relativist soup', which sounds like the sort of thing Julian Wolfreys might bathe in, and therefore cannot possibly be a Good Thing.

Chris said...

I'd drifted too, though I still bought the occasional copy. It still seemed like a good and a righteous thing.

The Runciman article is fairly specifically about Wikipedia, rather than the web in general. Most sites don't allow anyone who fancies it to edit them - though of course anyone can make a website.

It is remarkable how much of the web is dependent on trust, though. There is no way of knowing that or (both very new blogs) were set up by the Everett True who once upon a time edited Plan B - or that the Stephen Pastel who commented on the latter is really the one who runs our favourite record shop.

And actually, there is no mention on the official Plan B site (or indeed in this month's issue) of the magazine's closure, so it is entirely possible that this is all a hoax. Possibly perpetrated by The Wire, tired of being accused of having no sense of humour.

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