Starting up the Walker Blogs has been a bit of a challenge. The WordPress application was relatively fast to set up and design for, but we have been off to a slow start adding departments to blogs.walkerart.org. If you visit that page you can see it is just New Media and Education holding down the blog fort. The Walker certainly has a lot more going on than those two departments so what is going on?
In all probability the slow adoption of blogs has been related to the time crunch surrounding our opening, but I think it also has something to do with our incomplete explanation of what blogs are and how they can be put to good use. To that end I did some research online for people who already answered these questions better than I could. I found a lot of resources addressing this issue for educators and non-profits in general but nothing specifically targeting multidisciplinary art centers like ours, so I took some time to write answers to common questions I get asked.
First of all I’ve been asked “ What is a Blog?” a few times so lets get that out of the way.
It’s a series of writings about topics currently of interest to you or your audience sorted in chronological order (newest first oldest last). Written entries are referred to as posts and are published by the author without the assistance of any New Media staff. Each post includes a tool that allows the audience (any one on the internet) to make comments about the post.
There is a good article on TechSoup called An Introduction to Weblogs that goes through this in more detail.
A couple of times people have asked “ Why would I want to blog? How could it help me?” or they boil those two questions down to something simpler like “ I don’t really have time to blog right now, maybe later”.
Why blog? How can it help us?
A weblog is an easy way to reach your most dedicated audience fast. The Internet can feel like a mass media or at least a massive media, a weblog is a way for you to put a personal face on what you do and help to activate the most dedicated segment of your audience. A department blog is probably not going to be of interest for casual visitors and that’s fine. Our website already has a front page, calendar and department page that addresses a more and more specific audience. Each step has a smaller but more interested audience; a department blog is the next level of focus. How does that help us? A more involved audience makes the community more interesting, plus a more involved audience is probably attends events and exhibitions.
I don’t have time.
The task of posting writing out there on the internet for the whole world to see may seem daunting. Certainly there is a time commitment but the great things about the blog reading public is they are willing to accept and appreciate a level of casualness to the writing as long as it is also accompanied by a level of candor. You don’t have to spend a lot of time on every post. Certainly you can invest a couple of hours into one but there are times when a good post can be written in 15 minutes. A lot of posts are valuable because they are current. If your post is about breaking news then just go ahead and type something up and let it fly, a paragraph or two will be enough to get the job done.
Are people interested?
There are people all over the world posting and writing about exhibitions, performances, music and films but there is a dearth of institutional conversation to accompany them.
I’ve read several good pieces on
But Arts journal in general has a lot of blogs online:
Contemporary arts weblogs:
Hopefully that short list shows there is a lot going on out there in the ether. I found all these blogs because they either linked to our site or because they were talking about the some of the artists we have in our upcoming schedule. So that list is just a small cross section of people already interested in the type of work we are doing here.