Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The virtual world – research and commentary on Australian arts and culture

When I established my blog ‘indefinite article’, a couple of years back, it was because I wanted to research and comment on Australian arts and culture. This is my main blog that gets most views. It seems to have taken off. I’d always thought that, given the specialist subject matter – after all it’s not a popular culture blog like a cooking one – that it would grow steadily but no more, which all along is what I had wanted. The rate of growth has surprised me. Now, I’m starting to focus on the other blogs that have played second fiddle – about short humour, gardening and cooking and creative writing.

When I first established my blog ‘indefinite article’, a couple of years back, it was because I wanted to research and comment on Australian arts and culture, something I know something about from working for over 35 years in the arts and culture sector. I could have written about other subjects but that would just be me expressing my opinions like every other man, woman and their dog (and cat) on social media. ‘Who cares?’ I thought. ‘indefinite article’ is irreverent articles about contemporary Australian society, popular culture, the creative economy and the digital and online world – life in the trenches and on the beaches of the information age. This is my main blog and it’s the one that gets most views.

Ages ago I used the phrase on this image, thinking that I had very cleverly been the first person to think of. Recently I saw the same phrase, virtually word for word, on an Internet meme. Whether my words just drifted around on their own and were picked up and reused or whether, more likely, it's just a case of a good idea appearing at the same time in many different widely separated places, is hard to tell. There are no secrets or possessions on the Internet. Here's my illustrated take on the meme.

On the morning of 25 February it passed 8,000 views and is now just over 100 views short of the next milestone of 9,000 views. It seems only a short time ago that I was celebrating having passed 7,000 views. That amount represented the total views from when I effectively started the blog, when I left the public service in late February 2014, to 25 February this year, a period of just under two years. My most recent jump of 1,000 views, from 7,000 to 8,000, took just 5.5 weeks. Three days later I was already a quarter of the way to my next thousand, 9,000 views. I seem to have settled around 1,000 views a month.

I’d always thought that, given the specialist subject matter – after all it’s not a popular culture blog like a cooking one – that it would grow steadily but no more, which all along is what I had wanted. The rate of growth has surprised me.

At the same time, total views for all my blogs has reached 11,651. My total social media engagement has reached 19,446 and my social media reach (including things like Twitter impressions, whatever they are) is 36,410.

After two years of writing the ‘indefinite article’ blog, publishing 106 articles in all, I also realised something. Precisely because arts and culture is so central to society and the economy and therefore relevant to the politics that shapes them, it is impossible to write about it without straying into these tricky and troublesome areas. It means that on ‘indefinite article’ – both the blog and the Facebook page – I found myself starting to engage in more social, economic and political discussion.

There’s more to the world than serious articles about art and culture
Arts and culture is…humorous
In contrast to ‘indefinite article’, I started ‘balloon’ because it’s always good to have a laugh. I intend to post a lot more humorous material on that blog in the near future. ‘balloon’ is thought balloons for our strange and unsettled times – short quirky articles about the eccentricities of everyday life, almost always with a sense of short black humour.

…and creative
I also have a blog, ‘handwriting’, which includes creative writing of various kinds that had been recognised in assorted competitions and outlets over the years. ‘handwriting’ is homegrown graffiti from the digital world – writing, rhyming and digital animations. It’s a neglected child but I’ll be adding more in the next 12 months.

…and food and gardening
Then I started ‘tableland’ because I wanted also to write about food and gardening for variety, as a relief from writing about hopeless politicians, chaotic arts funding and bad policies. ‘tableland’ is land to table – the daily routine of living in the high country, on the edge of the vast Pacific, just up from Sydney, just down from Mount Kosciuszko.

I’m still posting to my public Facebook page, also called ‘indefinite article’ and to Twitter for the short and sweet things in life.

To keep seeing my updates
If you would like to keep reading my posts and articles here are some things you could do:

1. Follow my blog, ‘indefinite article’ by email at http://indefinitearticle.net.au.
The easiest way to hear about new posts to this blog when they are added from time to time is to follow by email. Just go to the link for the blog, fill in your email address in the box on the main page and you will get an email confirming you want to get notifications – just click on the link in the email to confirm. Then every so often you will receive an email with a link to the latest post. If you don’t confirm by clicking on the link in the follow up email, you will not receive any updates.

2. Like my public Facebook page, ‘indefinite article’, at https://www.facebook.com/indefinitearticle.

4. Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/rscass.

If you ever lose the address for my blogs, a quick search on Google for ‘Stephen Cassidy indefinite article’ will find my main blog.

I hope you enjoy all my articles.

See also

The big picture and long view – creating a cultural future
‘The never-ending election campaign that became the never-ending election tally has turned into the unpredictable second term government. What does this new world of fragmented politics mean for Australian arts and culture and the organisations, artists and communities which live it and advance it? There are a series of major factors which are hammering arts and culture organisations. These intersect and mutually reinforce one another to produce a cumulative and compounding long term disastrous impact. All this is happening in a context where there is no strategic policy or overview to guide Government. It is critical for the future that the arts and culture sector think broadly about arts and culture, build broad alliances and partnerships, never forget its underlying values and draw on its inherent creativity to help create a society based firmly on arts and culture’, The big picture and long view – creating a cultural future.

Arts and culture part of everyday life and on the main agenda
‘There’s an election in the air and I was thinking about what would be a good list of positive improvements that would benefit Australia’s arts and culture, so I jotted down some ideas. They are about recognising arts and culture as a central part of everyday life and an essential component of the big agenda for Australia. They are about where the knowledge economy, creative industries and arts and culture fit, how arts and culture explain what it means to be Australian and how they are a valuable means of addressing pressing social challenges’, Arts and culture part of everyday life and on the main agenda.

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