tweeto ergo sum

tweeto ergo sum


norman lebrecht

October 19, 2009

A Dutch-American blogger, Marc van Bree, has compiled a preliminary list of classical music writers and institutions on Twitter. The list, displayed here, makes no claim to be comprehensive and Marc warmly solicits additional contributions.

There is something of the zeitgeist about this catalogue. Last week Alex Ross, pioneer of the music-crit blog, froze his main site and announced that his future contributions would be rather more occasional and under his employer’s banner.

Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, in a thoughtful article on media trends of the decade, cited google, wikipedia and twitter as top three and omitted blogging altogether, except as a by-product of his newspaper’s reader-response policy.

Two twitter storms have just generated a minor constitutional crisis in the British Parliament and an advertisers’ retreat from a newspaper site that carried an article criticising the gay lifestyle of the late Boyzone singer, Stephen Gately. These are very much signs of our times, and both were driven by the agendas of print newspapers.

So could it be that the cultural blog has had its day? Certainly many of its functions are gravitating to twitter, facebook and other places of savvy congregation. Many writers use them as eye-magnets for articles they have placed in traditional newspapers. 

Some of those newspapers are now planning to put up paywalls, which means that if you’re intrigued by the tweet you may not be able to access them for free.

A new convergence is emerging between old print media and new social sites. Does this signal an economic revival for arts journalism? Too soon to tell but the straws in the wind are not uninteresting. As this long-running mini-series indicates, we are in the thick of a fast-moving story. 



  • Interesting observations as always, Norman. But two emendations:
    Marc Van Bree is Dutch-born and -raised, but he is also American and studied, lives, and works in Chicago, USA.
    And Alex Ross has indeed shifted his regular blogging activities to The New Yorker’s webpages, but he has *not* “shut down” his own renowned site. As he writes there:
    “The present site will remain intact, with a focus on my books and related material. I’ll continue to augment the audio resources and post fresh material from time to time. I’d like to give ardent thanks to longtime readers for their kind and close attention to this blog. The noise will never die.”
    Best wishes,
    NL replies: Andrew, many thanks. I shall adjust Marc’s nationality accordingly.

  • Marc says:

    I did indeed study and do indeed live and work in Chicago, and I think I am American in all eyes but the law’s. Still “just” a permanent resident without voting rights.
    But besides that technicality, thanks for the shout out!
    And lastly, although I do see, and personally experience, a shift from blogs to twitter and other social networks, I don’t think we’re quite done with blogs just yet. But maybe the shift will weed out the “lesser” blogs and somewhat professionalize the “better” blogs. Time will tell. I agree that “the straws in the wind are not uninteresting.”
    p.s. Andrew, don’t cap the v! Although I do get confused for one on many occasions, I’m not Belgian! (I’ll stop nitpicking now)
    NL replies. A Belgian? He lives in the same city and he thought you were Belgian? Does nobody check anything any more 🙂

  • Marc says:

    No, Andrew didn’t think I was Belgian. But my point was that Belgians more commonly capitalize the “v” in a surname.
    And it’s not all that strange to think I’m Belgian, apparently. When I went back to the Netherlands two months ago, even people from just one town away thought my Dutch accent/dialect was Flemish. It’s like saying someone from Boston sounds like someone from New York.
    Maybe it’s because I’m starting to use English sentence structures in my Dutch?