Buckeye Jones

Is Artsandfaith.com dying?

59 posts in this topic

If one could populate a chart of post count by day and look at the last three years like a stock chart, what would be seen?

It would probably track pretty well with my Seadrill and Ensco PLC investments.  

Those, unfortunately, are deepwater oil drillers.  Occasionally, there's a rally (OPEC cuts supply targets!, or Disney releases Star Wars: The Force Awakens!) but its a long, and rapid, trend downwards.

What's happened?  Have the conversations moved elsewhere?  Twitter, Facebook?  Instagram, for its part, doesn't really have a conversational feature and seems to be mostly about branding.  But the indepth conversations here seem fewer and farther between.   Are we aging out  of those conversations altogether?  My work life and home life are inordinately more complex than when I was posting more regularly, and I've always been a casual filmgoer and enthusiast, never diving in to the depth of criticism created by many on the board.  Others have undertaken schooling, training, jobs, families.  But like a leaky bucket, it needs refilled from time to time.  Where are the new participants to A&F?  Is this a fact of life of  the online message board as a category?  Mobile and instant have overtaken engagement?  Even Facebook reported recently that the majority of posts are now shared content vs. original content.  Is that indicative of a reduction in content creation as part of the A&F discussion as well?

Is this sufficient?  If not, what next to revive it?  Is this accurate?  I'm curious, and perhaps, nostalgic.

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My own diminishing participation comes from

1) increasing pressures related to work (which also shut down my fiction-writing career four years ago, much to my heartbreak)

2) the departure or declining participation of certain cinephiles who brought a lot of world-cinema perspective and expertise

3) the increase in the number of comic book movies and action franchises and the amount of attention being paid to them (I just don't really care, so when I come here and several of the day's active threads are about sequels, I lose interest)

4) the fact that, for a time, A&F was a necessary phenomenon where cinephiles of faith found kindred spirits and community... but now (and this is good news) that community has spread, sparking other communities and opportunities, and we have begun to participate more directly ("salt and light") in other film communities that are not specifically religious. Also, many of us have gone from writing to each other to writing more professionally on other platforms.

I think A&F is a good thing and should continue, but it would benefit from leadership with a vision for actively cultivating the community and its activities. The purpose and the necessity of its first decade-plus run are dissolving... but there is great promise for it to evolve into something new for this next decade, if there are people who see the opportunity and act on it. 

My two cents.

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For my part, I echo some of Jeffrey's reasons.

1) There's the job, which is in a roundabout way is movie related.  The company I work for handles many of the premiere's and film festivals in the L.A. area, and right now we are hitting a peak season for both, which really hampered my recent participation.  This is the first year where I didn't really involve myself with the Top 25.  I just didn't have the time to see many of the nominated films, and when I saw the final list of 50, and realized I had seen less than 10, I didn't feel it appropriate to vote. 

2)  I do seem to interact with, and see online, many of the regulars and former regulars on Facebook (and Twitter, which I look at maybe once every 2 weeks - I've never really got the Twittersphere) than I do here.

FWIW, A&F is still one of the first 3 sites that I check into on a daily basis.  I too have noticed the drop off in activity, much of it around the time of the shift between hosting sites last year.  But it's not the first time these ebbs and flows have been pointed out.  IIRC, back when Alan Thomas was still involved a similar thread was started, which quickly blew up into something that I don't think the original poster had intended.  It pretty much lead to Alan leaving the site, and deleting all of his content from over the years, which is still noticeable in many threads. There was a bit of an exodus of regulars at that time.  But when Image took over, we seemed to pick up a host of new faces, some of whom are still around.  I'm not sure I can offer a solution to the current downward trend.

 

 

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A few quick thoughts:

1) Life stages. When I began at A&F I was a young, single man in my early 20s with lots of time to watch films. Now I'm approaching my mid-thirties, with children and in the final stages of finishing a PhD in literature and film studies and teaching, all of which means I have a lot less time for posting and reading online than I once did.

2) Medial shifts. Much of my online reading (for good or bad) has moved to the curated feeds of Facebook and Twitter, where I seem to interact regularly with many of the folks that I found through A&F and related sites. (I still dub many of you the "A&F folks" when I'm explaining to my wife who the people commenting on Facebook threads are).

 

So, while I'm sad to see the site slowdown and "die," I still feel connected and invested in both A&F and IMAGE and what we've created here, even as much of the day-to-day interactions happen elsewhere. To paraphrase Scrooge's nephew Fred in "A Christmas Carol," I believe A&F has done me good and will continue to do me good, and I say, God bless it!

Perhaps one day I'll have more time and energy to see more films again and do more film writing, but that season is not now. Hopefully soon.

As a footnote, a comment on Jeffrey's lamenting the seemingly "increased" attention paid to sequels and superhero films. I know for fact that many of the people who participate here watch much more than superhero films and franchise fare, but because of the vagaries of film distribution today we don't always see the other kinds of films I thin he wants to talk about at the same time (festivals vs. coastal releases vs. distribution in smaller centres vs. VOD and home video), and so we tend to talk and discuss the films that we all see roughly the same time.

A possible solution is to resurrect the film club where we can have more focused discussions about the kinds of films that go beyond popular fare. I must say that one thing I'd like to see is more discussion around older films, as even when it comes to art house and international fare I think our past discussions have been overly contemporary and also represented our shared weak spots in understanding film history. Considering though some of the resources we have among people who either have a passion for or study classic cinema (Nbooth, Nathaniel, Ryan H., and if I can put myself in that category finally), it would be great and something that we wouldn't get on Twitter or Facebook. Just a thought.

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Life-stage is a big part of it for me, too; I'm still single, but I'm pushing 30 and about to enter the last year (please, God. Please....) of my Ph.D. Which means that when I do watch a movie, it's more often than not {a} in a group, after it's been released on DVD, and curated for group interest, or {b} very restricted in terms of broad appeal (I mean, unless anyone thinks we need a thread on Phantom Over Chinatown or The House of Fear...though I'm thinking of starting one on The Blue Hour, just to see if anyone can explain to me what the heck is going on there. EDIT: I did). Or else it's a television show, for days when I'm sick or grading or just don't want to move. It's not just here, either: my 'blogging took a hit in the last few years and I decided to suspend operations until after I get the dissertation delivered and gainful employment (or, y'know, employment) lined up. I still post here pretty regularly, though, and I check the site multiple times every day to see what's popping.

Attendant with that is the "vagaries of film distribution" alluded to above. A lot of these festival films simply don't reach Tuscaloosa, Alabama until they've hit DVD or streaming sites, at which point most of the conversation (if there ever was any) has dried up. So that leaves sequels and superhero films, both of which I'm a champion of anyway (in theory; in practice, I skip more than I see, for precisely the same pecuniary reasons that I don't pick up most art-films). If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with.

I'm temperamentally loath to rush about trying to fix things--call it the conservative side to my progressivism--but I do like the idea of resurrecting the film club. Part of the reason I started coming here all these years ago was that there was, at that time, discussion of these different movies that I hadn't seen (and couldn't see--rural South circa the turn of the century). Doing a monthly or bi-monthly thread devoted to a particular film would be a good way to answer several of the concerns mentioned, as well as worries voiced elsewhere about the way that our lists often cluster around very particular decades. It would also give those of us who are in more pecuniarily straitened circumstances (which, who isn't, but) the opportunity to selectively pick up or rent a few movies at a time and work on building a base in that way as well. We could even theme it for the year or something, though that might take too much planning/debate (though if anyone's interested in doing a series of discussions on American cinematic representations of Asian detectives in the '30s and '40s, I'll take point on that. Spoiler alert: Keye Luke is amazing. ;) )

Edited by NBooth

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9 hours ago, NBooth said:

(though if anyone's interested in doing a series of discussions on American cinematic representations of Asian detectives in the '30s and '40s, I'll take point on that. Spoiler alert: Keye Luke is amazing. ;) )

Totally an aside, but if that's up your alley, one of the professors in our department, Philippa Gates, is working on a project on Asian American detectives at this moment! I bet she'd love to chat about it. She did a paper a year or so ago on Keye Luke's role in the "Dr. Gillespie" films with Lionel Barrymore. Very interesting.

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I basically bowed out of A&F a year ago, though I've popped in here and there since. Since everyone is doing lists...

  1. I agree that a lot of my casual conversations or friendly banter have moved to social media. Thems the facts.
  2. Like others have noted, I was single when I first started posting. Now I've married, have a time-consuming job, and I commit my little free time to other hobbies in lieu of movie-watching (D&D, board games, cooking). I never see films in the theater these days (just don't have the time to drive to and from Pittsburgh for the limited release ones, nor the money). 
  3. To be blunt—I've always felt like an outsider here. Which isn't a problem, per se, but you can only spend so much time trying to fit in before realizing it's not going to work.
  4. My interests have strayed more and more toward the niche since I joined in 2006, and my initial enthusiasm for whatever droopy arthouse was the go-to A&F pick of the year has shifted toward weird junk that gets no traction on the forum. Which is fine! (And I still like plenty of droopy arthouse movies.) I just learned to not even try.
  5. Seeing personality clashes on the forum over the years has bummed me out. And I direct this at myself—a decent number of the posters here drive me crazy, which is probably one of those "it's me, not you" kind of things. Keeping a distance has been healthy for me, though, and it's been I'd like to keep it that way.

I love A&F and what it's meant over the years, but it's been better for me in the long run to keep some distance. I'll still pop in to check on game-related posts or see if there's anything that jumps out in the music or TV forums, but that's probably it. But hey, say hi on Facebook or Twitter!

Edited by Jason Panella

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12 hours ago, John Drew said:

FWIW, A&F is still one of the first 3 sites that I check into on a daily basis.  I too have noticed the drop off in activity, much of it around the time of the shift between hosting sites last year.  But it's not the first time these ebbs and flows have been pointed out.  IIRC, back when Alan Thomas was still involved a similar thread was started, which quickly blew up into something that I don't think the original poster had intended.  It pretty much lead to Alan leaving the site, and deleting all of his content from over the years, which is still noticeable in many threads. There was a bit of an exodus of regulars at that time.  But when Image took over, we seemed to pick up a host of new faces, some of whom are still around.  I'm not sure I can offer a solution to the current downward trend.

John--I'm SO not wanting a repeat of previous iterations of those types of threads.  NO interest in a blame game.  I'm very much interested in seeing A&F flourish; I'm even more interested in seeing A&Fers flourish!

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4 minutes ago, Jason Panella said:

To be blunt—I've always felt like an outsider here.

No way. 

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I started writing something long, but didn't feel like it's appropriate for me to weigh in like that here. But I love you guys, I'm sad that the board isn't as active as it was (and that you're sad about it), and I'll try to post something somewhere else on the board later today (something specific, not just "something", though I feel like, as a general lurker, I'm part of the problem right now).

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Ten years ago I would've spent an hour crafting a long and (hopefully) thoughtful reply to this question. I was more able and willing to spend that kind of time then because there was no Twitter or Facebook (or kids or microcinemas or writing projects) and because I knew that my response would be part of an on-going conversation with friends. And by that I don't mean "friends" in any generic sense; I mean specific people. Most of them have since drifted away from the forum, for various reasons, so when I click on "unread content" every morning and don't see their names and don't see topics that immediately grab my attention, I close the tab and move on.

I miss the "old" A&F in the same way I miss my old college friends or my old young couples Bible study group -- they were important periods in my life when I was fortunate to run into some people at the same stage of life who challenged me and tested me and made me laugh and pissed me off. The people in this forum have been immeasurably important in my life as a cinephile and as a Christian, but I have no expectation of the forum itself continuing to play that role for me. I hope it continues to for others, though.

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Note to Jason: I echo Buckeye's "No way."

My own lessened participation is partly due to what seems to me to be the increasingly buggy nature of the site. (Or, worse, what seems like "bugs" to me might be "features" to the people who designed this format... but either way, the continuity of this board has been undermined, and in a way that goes deeper than any previous undermining. I mean, just look at all those older threads in which paragraphs have been hacked up into lines of two or three words only, or in which old posts are abruptly cut off in mid-thought because the new version of the board didn't like the punctuation format used by the old version of the board, or whatever the reason was there. Seeing the archives up-ended like that makes one reluctant to expand the archives, lest they be up-ended again in the future.)

I've also spent a *lot* of time working on my blog the last few months -- and increasingly, it seems like when I have a random thought that isn't quite blog-worthy, I'll express it on Facebook first before it occurs to me to express it here. So that's where my primary energies have been focused.

I do feel a freedom when I'm writing at A&F that I don't feel when I'm writing for my blog, though, which has gotten a bit more formal than it used to be. For whatever that's worth.

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I don’t think our conversations have moved to other social media.  In fact, I’d argue that one of the valuable services this board performs is providing a more stable, less instant platform for longer, more in depth conversations.  This is part of what makes A&F special, and it is also why I am committed to participating here long term.  Peter’s concern about preserving the continuity of past conversations is important, and we should probably evaluate this in order to make sure that what has already happened here is not lost.  If past conversations have been lost or deleted, let’s do something about that.

Personally, my participation over the last year took a hit given a couple distracting and time consuming big life changes.  But, over the last 3 or 4 months, I have been checking A&F almost daily again, and I too have noticed a decrease in posts and conversations.  This has happened before.  It can revive and get more active again.  One of the reasons I haven’t posted as much this year is because of the decrease in new substantive threads.  I don’t really have much to say about mere news items, and while I enjoy Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel, etc., those films don’t really engage intellectually at the level where I look for real conversation.  Also, now having married, my film watching of new and recent films has significantly decreased as I am now essentially taking my wife through A&F’s Top 100.  However, I do intend on beginning to comment more on what I am watching again.

Also, thanks in part to some wise and much needed critiquing from A&F members in past years, I have reevaluated what it means to be a good, thoughtful and educated writer.  My standards for my own writing have been raised and, while I am not a full-time professional writer yet, I now aspire to be one.  This affects what I am willing to invest time into.

Thoughts on A&F in the future:

(1) I’d echo Jeffrey’s hope that future A&F could benefit from leadership that actively cultivates the A&F community and conversations.  Of course, for this to happen, some of us will have to step into such leadership roles and keep cultivating things here.  I’d still love to increase the Literature and Theology conversation threads, so that they are more of a complement and companion to the Film threads.  I’ve noticed in the past that discussing theology and literature often stokes the fires of more substantive discussions of related films.  At present, other than starting an occasional thread, I am not exactly sure how to do this.

(2) One strength that, while it has been a strength in the past, we should try to keep is the ability to continue past conversations.  The way this works is that, for example, when one of us sees an older film or a Top 100 film, he then reviews the A&F discussion of that film here and contributes to it.  This is something I have only done about half the time.  In order for it to work, each participant needs to make an effort to continue the conversations that have begun here on these films.  I know I can do better at this, and when enough members do do this, the results are almost always rewarding.  (This also means reading and responding to the thread when another member sees a film for the first time and comments on your past discussion of the film - another practice I ought to engage in more than I have been doing.)

(3) While I identify with Darren’s missing of the “old” A&F, just like with any old group of cherished friends, I’m willing to participate in cultivating new conversations with new friends and we very well may be able to use A&F to do so.

(4) If it has done anything other than encourage me to see some of the best films I have ever seen, A&F has also shown me that there can be a different kind of film criticism - one that, instead of being written for either entertainment magazines or academics, wrestled with the substantive ideas in a story and declaimed against the film-making that avoids real ideas.  As someone who plans on sticking around, I am very interested in promoting and contributing to this different kind of film criticism.  In order to do this, we will have to keep educating ourselves, in the literary and theological spheres as well as in the cinematic.  And we can encourage new members to do the same.

(5) In the arts, historically there are often different movements in criticism.  I’d like to think that, over more than the last decade, A&F represents a move of a select group of film critics & connoisseurs away from the s**t film reviews that mainly listed offensive content that were to be found in most “Christian” publications.  (Also, by the way, if the participants of A&F do accomplish anything at all as a unified group, could we at least kill the “Christian” film industry before we’re done?  I want to kill it.  Can we kill it?  Look here, they are currently making God’s Not Dead 3 as we speak.  Let’s kill it.)  Now that this move has been made, there is still plenty of work to be done, work of the kind that Wolfe & company are doing at Image and that Alissa Wilkinson has been trying to promote recently at CT.  On the one hand, this means focusing on quality film criticism that promotes quality film-making without emphasis on being “Christian.”  On the other hand, this means film criticism that is philosophically & theologically informed and willing to engage at deeper levels than the majority of film reviewers are ever willing to go.  I still dream of A&F participating in such a movement.

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On 4/28/2016 at 9:39 PM, Anders said:

 but because of the vagaries of film distribution today we don't always see the other kinds of films I thin he wants to talk about at the same time (festivals vs. coastal releases vs. distribution in smaller centres vs. VOD and home video), and so we tend to talk and discuss the films that we all see roughly the same time.

I think this is a principle factor in the lack of posts. Distribution has changed so much, we are not all seeing things at the same time anymore. We used to have at least one or two non-mainstream films per month that were the topic of conversation both here and on social media. That just is not the case anymore. Things have gotten too scattered for critics and cinephiles to feel like they are participating in an annual cycle anymore. The good conversations have withered a bit. Heck, I am not even sure what I am going to see in the next Film Comment or Sight & Sound.

On 4/28/2016 at 8:48 AM, Jason Panella said:

To be blunt—I've always felt like an outsider here. Which isn't a problem, per se, but you can only spend so much time trying to fit in before realizing it's not going to work.

That has never been my perception! This site has always worked well for me because I know people like you drop in words of knowledge in from other cultural niches and interests.

--

I also hear the notes of busyness. I have a full time job and two faculty positions. Managing two book contracts on top of that. Trying to be the best dad and husband I can be. I just do not have as much time as I used to, and tend to default to Facebook and Twitter for my quick daily news gathering. But A&F has always tended to run into lulls in the Jan-May months it seems, with conversations picking up steam post-Cannes, through Toronto, and then into the end of year lists. The site is still an invaluable resource during these phases of annual distribution.

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I've been here since about 2003, minus a hiatus of a year or two, so I'll chime in.  Lots of this will be echoes of what others have said:

1) Life is busier than ever for me.  My current job is more time-consuming than any job I've held since residency, and I'm writing a blog post a week.  My kids are growing up (1 in college, 2 in high school), but I stay very involved in their lives.  Then, I'm supposed to be working on a book chapter...

2) I think Anders and M. Leary nailed a major issue, with the current state of film distribution, to which I would add the ever-expanding number of good films and tv to choose from.  When I look at the year end lists at places like the NY Times, often I've missed a significant chunk of the films listed, and I'm a pretty committed filmgoer.  By the time I've seen Carol, some here are weeks ahead of me, others weeks behind.  Or when I'd love to talk about Embrace of the Serpent (my favorite film of 2016 so far), no one here has seen it yet.

3) This leaves only the big releases for us to synchronize around, and I have zero interest in spending big chunks of time discussing Star Wars or Marvel movies.

4) Other social media (namely, Facebook for me) have diluted the socializing aspect of A&F for me.  I used to love the playful, silly comraderie that sprung up here fairly regularly.

5)  All this being said, I still check in daily, finding A&F to be a useful guide to what's new and what might be worth checking out.  Despite some occasional snippiness (of which I've been occasionally guilty, too), this is still probably the most civil place on the internet, and I appreciate the mutual respect and affection that have accumulated here over the years.  I'm very grateful for the hugely formative influence this place has had upon my critical thinking about film, not to mention other significant issues in life.

6) I think a resurrection of the monthly Film Club might serve as a useful place to organize discussion and analysis of great films, not to mention build some cohesion among A&F members.  And we've got a few great lists we could draw from...    

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I'm going to throw in with others have said as well.

1) I'm completing my first year of grad school, and this past semester I've been the busiest I've ever been, so that's cut back on my participation.

2) I have almost no interest in discussing the latest Marvel or DC release, and since it seems many of us feel the same way, I'm sure that's also slowed down dialogue for many of us.

3) This is still one of the few websites I check every morning.

4) The three-and-a-half years I've been a member of this community, I've witnessed and participated in some of the best online discussions, and I think the calibre of dialogue here is wonderful: thoughtful, considerate, insightful, challenging. Even when some of us (myself included) have gotten passionate over topics, I feel everyone manages mostly to stay respectful, and it seems the community as a whole is very forgiving on the rare occasion that someone is out of line.

5) All that is to say, I have no plans to stop participating in A&F, and I hope we can all continue the conversation together.

6) As an idea, why don't we all invite someone to join this year? Maybe when we publish our Mercy Films list, we could extend an invitation to anyone who expresses interest. Just thinking out loud here.

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On 4/28/2016 at 4:01 PM, J.A.A. Purves said:

Peter’s concern about preserving the continuity of past conversations is important, and we should probably evaluate this in order to make sure that what has already happened here is not lost.  If past conversations have been lost or deleted, let’s do something about that.

I disagree. The attempts to make A&F into a repository rather than a discussion board is one I've never been comfortable with. As someone who, like Alan, has deleted substantial portions of my content over the years, I would be even less likely to contribute if/when attempts were made to mandate some sort of permanent record. 

For one thing, this brings up the question of ownership--both in a strict and broader sense. Certainly if someone provides a blurb or something to an A&F project, that belongs to the board, but I think individual posts have belonged and should belong to the individual poster.

I also think the attempts to mandate preservation have hurt participation...because (new) people want to talk about films, issues, or ideas that have been dealt with before. That others don't want to have those conversations again is fine...but I don't think it's universally realized how off putting it might be for someone to try to start a conversation and get ahemed, scolded for not reading all 100+ pages of LOTR posts to find the place where people (some of whom may not be here any more) had that conversation 12 years ago, or generally told that their role as new users is to benefit from the great pearls of wisdom those who went before them have left behind. 

A&F is a virtual place and a virtual community. Some of the things we've done in the past at the consensus of the community have been the sorts of things that have made it a place where some people will want to be and others not so much. That's unavoidable. (I, for example, never read the politics forum, but it always bugged me that it was removed when people who didn't like it could have simply not frequented it.) My secret wish is that every thread at A&F was like "Short Term Parking" -- where it auto deleted if there were no responses after 90 days. If someone said something I wanted to remember, that would incentivize me to write it down, make contact, etc. If someone wanted to say something that was more permanent, he or she could submit a publication, start a blog (and link to it) or whatever.

Then again, I've always been in the minority on this issue, so take that FWIW. 
 

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Very interesting conversation and something I have wondered about lately! My perspective is a little different since I have never set foot in the film forum. I came to arts and faith to talk about music, and that's all I've really done for the 12 years I've been here. I'm not the most active poster in that section, but I used to come here very frequently to find out about and talk about new and interesting music, and I learned about some of my favorite artists here. That's changed as the internet has changed, and as I've changed (obligatory mention of my PhD and academic career goes here), and as the music section lost some of its most prolific and insightful contributors (Andy Whitman and Thom Jurek in particular). 

I am OK with the music section of A&F 'dying,' though, because as has been said elsewhere, I think there is more space in the culture that many of us come from to talk about this stuff outside here. One of my interests in posting here was interacting with other writers and music critics, and it's been great to see how things have shifted -- anyone remember our long thread about why Christianity Today would not review "non-Christian" albums except in its "glimpses of God" section? That changed, and whole new publications -- Christ & Pop Culture comes to mind, Patrol for a while there, and even, incredibly, First Things, from time to time -- have become great venues for 'faith-based' discussion of contemporary pop music. 

So I'm a little sad that the music section is not so active -- I don't think the "A&F top albums" thing will ever happen, just like when I tried to start a 'zine' with contributions from A&F music people didn't happen -- I am glad there are other venues out there and I feel more confident about my own music-writing voice now as a result of conversations I've had here. (Incidentally, I'm writing a book about music criticism right now, and one of the points I'll make is that a place like the A&F music forum is "music writing" as much as, say, a Pitchfork review is.)

I still check in out of habit, but I'll probably be doing that less, and I think I'm OK with that. I know where to find most of the people whose work I want to read outside of here!

 

 

Edited by Joel

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The music section is one the few I look at when I occasionally pop in, Joel, and what brought me to A&F to begin with back in the day. I've always valued the weird little gems that would pop up there that weren't the usual Over the Rhine/Lucinda Williams/whatever roots stuff (not that those are bad). In a lot of ways, the music forum was how I discovered many favorites in the late '00s. 

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23 minutes ago, Jason Panella said:

The music section is one the few I look at when I occasionally pop in,

Also, I just looked at your post count compared to mine and that made me think it was funny that you thought yourself an outsider! :)

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1 minute ago, Joel said:

Also, I just looked at your post count compared to mine and that made me think it was funny that you thought yourself an outsider! :)

There was a time when I thought commenting on *everything* would make me part of the crowd. :-) 

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My secret wish is that every thread at A&F was like "Short Term Parking" -- where it auto deleted if there were no responses after 90 days.

I enjoy revisiting those old conversations, so I wouldn't want them to vanish, but the idea of there being a statue of limitations on a particular thread is really interesting. Last night I revisited my favorite film, Andrei Tarkovsky's Mirror, for the first time in years, and it reminded me of the pre-forum days of A&F, when a bunch of us were discovering Tarkovsky at the same time. It would be interesting to revisit some of our canonical figures without feeling any need to address the legacy/archive.

This isn't practical from a technological perspective (I don't want a ticking timer to lock threads), but it has merits as a guiding principle. How often do we see posts that bump an old thread and begin, "I couldn't find a thread specifically about X but this is related to X so I figured I'd put it here"? We now live in an era of Facebook and Twitter timelines, where content effectively vanishes after a few hours. I say down with the "ahem"!

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kenmorefield wrote:
: The attempts to make A&F into a repository rather than a discussion board is one I've never been comfortable with. As someone who, like Alan, has deleted substantial portions of my content over the years, I would be even less likely to contribute if/when attempts were made to mandate some sort of permanent record. 

Well, no one's saying you can't delete your own stuff (those parts of it that weren't already quoted and embedded in other people's posts, that is). But it's a problem when the board actively sabotages itself and makes itself unreadable.

: For one thing, this brings up the question of ownership--both in a strict and broader sense. Certainly if someone provides a blurb or something to an A&F project, that belongs to the board, but I think individual posts have belonged and should belong to the individual poster.

Even when they are quoted by other people in their replies? Are you suggesting that A&F should do what Twitter does, where if a quoted post is deleted at the source it no longer appears in the tweet/post that quoted it?

: I don't think it's universally realized how off putting it might be for someone to try to start a conversation and get . . . scolded for not reading all 100+ pages of LOTR posts to find the place where people (some of whom may not be here any more) had that conversation 12 years ago . . .

I'm not aware of any such scolding. Maybe it happened and I missed it (somewhere in the 100+ pages of that or other threads :)).

Darren H wrote:
: . . . the idea of there being a statue of limitations on a particular thread is really interesting.

That was how things worked on the old Novogate board, before A&F (or, rather, its immediate predecessor PromontoryArts) got started (in 2003, I think?).

: How often do we see posts that bump an old thread and begin, "I couldn't find a thread specifically about X but this is related to X so I figured I'd put it here"?

Well, that's a different problem than the one you're addressing.

: We now live in an era of Facebook and Twitter timelines, where content effectively vanishes after a few hours.

Except for all the search engines and embed codes, etc. (I mean, hey, apparently A&F itself can now embed tweets and Facebook posts!) :)

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Sooo, my quick takeaway is that the answer is "no, A&F isn't dying".  But it is changing.  I'd love to get more new users, and I'd love to enable new users to engage with the old threads (esp. with the Top 100 list films in all its incarnations).  And I'd love to have the other arts sections as vibrant as the film section, but as for me my engagement there is like my engagement with wine--there's a few I really like and can remember (2005 Bobalia, for one), but for the most part it's "Spanish Reds".  There's a few artists I really like, but for the most part, it's I like contemplative Indie rock.

We're a bit of a leaky bucket, but maybe that's the wrong metaphor.  I don't want to plug a leak (people should feel free to move on).  Maybe we're a floodplain.  Some of that water overflows the banks, is gone from the river, but enriches the floodplain with lasting fruitfulness.  I want some snowmelt, though, to keep up the ebb and flow of the water level, not a dam to slow it down.

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1 hour ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

kenmorefield wrote:
: The attempts to make A&F into a repository rather than a discussion board is one I've never been comfortable with. As someone who, like Alan, has deleted substantial portions of my content over the years, I would be even less likely to contribute if/when attempts were made to mandate some sort of permanent record. 

Well, no one's saying you can't delete your own stuff (those parts of it that weren't already quoted and embedded in other people's posts, that is). But it's a problem when the board actively sabotages itself and makes itself unreadable.
 

They are if/when member privileges (including posting or removing content) are not at their discretion. 

No, I'm not talking about embedded posts...those belong to the person who posted them. (I recall at one point someone hitting reply all to some post of mine he/she did not want to disappear whenever I went on another deleting binge. That's no different than someone posting a cut/past here from a review I wrote elsewhere. )

I'm just saying -- and I think maybe D is picking up on the same thing -- that what makes a board "unreadable" might be different things for different people. For some it might be spoilers. For others the tone of a cantakerous frequenter. For others it might be missing content. For yet others it might be the perceived weight of history that has to be processed before the first word can be spoken.

The latter expresses why I don't play video games any more. Every time I walk into a GameStop I feel like the amount of time it would take me to learn a new system, game, whatever just isn't worth the sweat equity. 

EDIT: I've always preferred the metaphor for a message board of like a pub. Some *place* I can go to see whose around and maybe have a conversation about whatever is on my mind. 

Quote

This isn't practical from a technological perspective (I don't want a ticking timer to lock threads), but it has merits as a guiding principle. How often do we see posts that bump an old thread and begin, "I couldn't find a thread specifically about X but this is related to X so I figured I'd put it here"? We now live in an era of Facebook and Twitter timelines, where content effectively vanishes after a few hours. I say down with the "ahem"!

Something similar might be achieved by doing away with the "search" function. That can be maddening when you are looking for something specific (I've had that happen on Facebook--also seen people begin to post things on their own wall with the reminder (this is for later). Since our *accoutnts* now have walls/threads different from content specific count, people who didn't want to lose track of something could always tag it on their member page. But, yeah, like FB, that means we would end up with 10 different threads for LOTR or whatever. Personally that doesn't bother me...what's the difference between whether or not somebody joins my conversation or I join his/hers? Not that much...and a great deal. And it might actually help personality issues since there would be a way to talk about a film (or music or book) without really having to be in the face of some conversation you *don't* want to have. Plus it allows everyone to have his/her own rules about spoilers, pre-release chatter, blah, blah, blah. 

Of course that may be a big step towards *private* threads and we've been down that road before. Still, maybe that's an idea worth re-exploring since our membership has changed. 

Edited by kenmorefield

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