Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tough Decisions and Ad Non-Sense

Admittedly, this blog has been a little light on ideas, heavy on concept of late. I will say, up front, that I have no intention of abandoning this blog as a space for play, but I had to re-evaluate the look and function of the blog after I received this:


As mentioned in our welcome email, we conduct a second review of your AdSense application once AdSense code is placed on your site(s). As a result of this review, we have disapproved your account for the following violation(s):


Insufficient content..."

My application to AdSense was a project that was important to the continued play/experimentation on this blog. It's frustrating to have to re-work the blog and put some distance behind my embedded video posts (one of the cited problems in my AdSense application) and more "content". Whomever is responsible for writing the auto-generated e-mail that tells folks like me that their blog is rejected should substitute the term "content" for "long blocks of rambling text". In researching monetized blogs, the new "good blogs" are the ones with magazine-length essays and slick-looking photos. This makes me laugh, because when this blog first began in early 2008, I asked some successful art education bloggers to look over my blog and provide some feedback. The #1 comment:

"You have some great ideas, but you need to make your blog posts shorter. People don't want to read long blogs."

How the times have changed. Not only has readership of blogs shifted toward a more "digital magazine" format, there are specific demands being placed on the amount of text and number of images/video considered visually acceptable. The last straw, for me, is getting rejected by AdSense. I doubt an actual human even looked at my blog. They probably just run the front page URL through some scanning program of some sort and the acceptance or rejection e-mail is auto-generated. It felt even more impersonal than getting a bulk rejection e-mail for academic publication. Just as with the academic publication rejection, I am applying the criticism to my methods from henceforth. Here is a summary of the changes I'm instituting on my blog from now on:
  1. More text, less image blog posts. I apologize to those of you who enjoyed my short musings with lots of image play every month or six. I am planning to write more and illustrate less. If you need photos or videos to compliment this writing you'll have to open a new window, search for images or video in that window, and ask yourself: is this what she was talking about? This question no longer has a tangible answer. I apologize for the added layer of ambiguity. What AdSense wants, AdSense gets.
  2. More frequent posts. You may not really want to read this blog very often. You'll need to unsubscribe if the awareness of increased text-heavy posts causes you distress. (I'm specifically talking to my three subscribers here.) After carefully reading my rejection e-mail, I realize that blogging more often about things that words work well with is a superior way to approach blogging than just blogging with lots of images whenever the urge strikes me. 
  3. I have changed the way the comments are set up. This has nothing to do with the rejection letter directly. In my previous blog post I was wrestling with what to do with the autonomous exquisite corpse. Allowing the comments to pile up in service to "art" is profitable for all the "poets" but I provide this service free of charge. It takes time and effort to moderate all the anonymous comments. In an effort to use my time better, I changed the settings today so that this blog only accepts comments from registered users. I never wanted to do that because it also means I get less actual "human" comments on the blog, but I had to do it. So it's official, the exquisite corpse is officially DEAD unless you want to send randomized text to the comments section as a registered user. Then, I will still APPROVE ALL comments for that blog post. You just have to be a registered user to comment, I don't have any interest in filtering any content in the comments. It's more about how I use my time right now. I may change my mind later.
  4. If you're looking for a less experimental blog and you're not really that interested in home-brewed surrealism and other watered-down versions of conceptual art, then why have you read this far into the post? Perhaps you're wondering how I've managed to ramble about a blog that almost no human reads for this long. Perhaps you, like most of my blog traffic, are a bot. I always welcome bots. OR...perhaps you're a human and you're actually interested in reading some of my thinking on art education. The good news is I started a blog that will attempt to serve that purpose. You can read my art education writing at my personal website
  5. Guest authors. I am looking for bloggers who are interested in "writing" on any art, art education, art history, or art theory topics. I am open to additional ideas, as well. I'm using the term "writing" because I'm still not interested in trying to turn this blog into a traditional blog. I'm interested in radical and experimental work that utilizes text as the primary means of communication. If you'd be interested in playing around with the form and function of a blog, please contact me. If, on the other hand, you'd like to engage in more scholarly and/or traditional work, please consider being a guest author on the blog at my personal website. When you use the contact form on my personal website to let me know your interest in writing as a guest author, please indicate which blog you'd like to write for and 3-5 sentences about what you're interested in writing about. 
So, in summary, I'm making a few necessary changes to this blog in service to my goals for some continued experimentation with using this blog as a work of art, a place of experimentation, and a place for intellectual play. Choosing to change the comment settings was a difficult but necessary decision that I'll write about in my next blog post here. I hope that the changes I am instituting will make my blog more appealing to the robots that review site content for AdSense. I have a specific artwork that seeks to utilize the AdSense content, so it's important to me to get approval for ad content on this blog. If you'd like to know more about my plan, contact me and I'll explain a bit about my rationale. Otherwise, you'll just have to patiently wait until I get approval to see how the artwork will unfold. I hope it's worth it. I will miss all my daily spam moderation. I have learned about SO many products and services I'll never use thanks to that comment section. Pouring one out for my spam homies.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Netiquette and Thought Crimes

I spent the last week on a cross-country road trip. While trapped in the rented minivan, our family indulged in listening to several episodes of the podcast "Welcome to Night Vale", written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor and narrated by Cecil Baldwin. In case you've been living under a rock for the last two years, the podcast is somewhere between horror fiction, classic comedy radio play, and the hypnotic aesthetic of public radio news. The central theme of the series is a fictional desert community called Night Vale and the news regarding its various residents and visitors, human and otherwise. In the podcast, there is frequent mention of secret police and the ambiguous penalties for "thought crimes". The notion of thought crimes within the podcast is proposed in a humorous manner - though as with all things humorous in the podcast, they parody contemporary societal issues. Challenges to the ideological problems with digital surveillance are craftily hidden just beneath the surface of the comedy.

Logo by Rob Wilson

 So why am I thinking about Night Vale in relationship to this blog, you may wonder? Well, for those few human readers out there following the autonomous exquisite corpse art happening in the comment section of Marcel Duchamp and Invented Pseudo Algebra, you may be asking the same questions I have been lately. Is there something unethical about approving spam in service to the work of art? Are there consequences for allowing this artwork to continue? What kind of monitoring does this artwork undergo and what purpose does such monitoring serve? Who watches the watchmen?

All joking aside, I have recently begun to think about the lifespan of the autonomous exquisite corpse work hosted on this site. I wonder if I should consider a specific end point for the work? I am also curious about the life span of the work beyond this mortal coil. I have to review and approve all comments for that section now. I originally set up this blog to auto-approve comments, but then the Blogger platform changed and deleted many comments that were auto-approved as they had been identified as spam. Essentially, the continued process of approval of the comments is the primary reason I still maintain this blog.

What will become of this artwork in the future? What will this exquisite corpse say about our society some day? Even though his work was not directly related to the present dilemma, I can't help but think about the work of the artist On Kawara. The simple act of marking time has provided so many opportunities to reflect on history, both personal and global, for such a great number of those who have encountered his work in person and via the internet. Of course, I wonder if On Kawara would see a relationship between his work and the exquisite corpse on this blog. As often as we admit that no person creates in isolation, artists have the funny habit of believing that they have original ideas. Along those lines, I can't help but wonder that in the absence of linear time and the impediment of mortality, what Marcel Duchamp might make of this project as well.

Let me know what you think. Do you see similarities between the exquisite corpse and the "Today Series" by On Kawara? Also, what do you think Duchamp would say about this blog, if anything?