The following is an only slightly exaggerated version of online conversations I had about Tuesday's post follower privilege, access privilege, and other things to be bitter about. A couple of interrogators are combined here as "RASG" (recent art school graduate):
RASG: You made a good critique yesterday of the Brad Troemel/Jennifer Chan position on the so-called internet surf clubs of '06-'08. You say the clubs' primary attributes weren't exclusivity and a career vehicle for members.
RASG: It's personal with you, isn't it? That really weakens your argument.
TM: I don't know them. I met Troemel once. My post was basically fact-checking what I consider wrong assumptions, since I was in one of the surf clubs (Nasty Nets) and those authors are viewing the clubs with what seems to be 20/20 incorrect hindsight.
RASG: Possibly your position inside one of the clubs blinds you to what recent art school graduates face, in terms of current options. For us, it's mainly Tumblr and Facebook and you are making fun of that. That's kind of well, arrogant and hypocritical.
TM: Privilege shaming is always a good rhetorical tactic but you're assuming I had some advantage that you currently don't have. If it was 2006 you could have started a group blog and built an audience. I believe you still could, just using search traffic, word of mouth, hyperlinks from respected sites, RSS, and even social media -- without actually situating your group blog on tumblr or FB.
RASG: Oh, yeah, sure, and that's going to just get archived on Rhizome, just like that.
TM: Well, Rhizome archived Nasty Nets, but then their conservator left, so it's a half-finished project. But assuming that NN is laureled to the extent you're saying, no, there is no guarantee that an interesting group blog is going to be recognized. You have to build an audience. That was true for NN as well.
RASG: (scoffs) You already had a career before you joined NN. You can't really talk.
TM: Again, you are privilege shaming. And no, it took years of being online, blogging, before anyone thought about inviting me to be in stuff.
RASG: But you had an art career before that.
TM: That exposure didn't carry over in 2001, when I started blogging. The art world wasn't following blogs. I basically had to start over.
RASG: OK, maybe, but it takes money and tech savvy to start a blog. You had a leg up that we don't have now.
TM: I started blogging on a site called Digital Media Tree. They were hosting a small collection of blogs (still are). The webmaster was very generous with time and skill but there was no gaming the system, a la Buzzfeed. All I did was sign up and start posting -- and built a "rep," such as it is, over time. You could do that, as well. Starting a group blog outside the social media continuum isn't that hard or expensive.
RASG: You are overly romantic. Your story sounds like every one of these startups that claim to have begun penniless.
TM: I like you, as well.