I like to know what’s going on in the world, but generally I’m fine with having a cursory overview of the most important events. This is different in my more specific fields of interest – film, media, music and cultural trends – and I have come to depend on blogs for most of my information in these fields.
Like with everything else, I use Netvibes to organize my feeds and I would be lost without it. The widget mode allows me to see all feeds with one look and lets me decide if I want to read every item, pick out single ones or just mark the whole feed read. This mode of operation also allows me to give feeds different amounts of room according to how often they post new items and how important I find them and also allows for easy cycling in and out of feeds, e.g. when they stop updating or start boring me.
I have organised my feeds in five tabs: film, music, media, “cult and culture” (a term I borrowed from my college newspaper’s miscellaneous section) and “people”, which means private blogs of people I know. Let me take you through those tabs.
As I’ve already mentioned in my last entry, my main blog for keeping track of everything film has become /film. It’s not as good as my earlier key medium, Cinematical, mostly because of its limited (geeky) scope, but it’s okay for keeping an overview on Hollywood filmmaking at least (I’m thinking of switching, maybe to something like “The AV Club”. Any other suggestions?). For arthouse cinema, I rely on the “Film Weekly” podcast discussed in the last episode). In support of /film, I follow the only German film blog worth following, NEGATIV, but I mostly just skim the articles. Because they are opinion leaders in Germany, for some strange reason, I also follow Die Fünf Filmfreunde, who mostly post trailers. PARALLEL FILM is the blog of German filmmaker Christoph Hochhäusler, the only German filmmaker who blogs (the sorry state of the German film blogosphere is a topic for another post or post series).
There are three academic film blogs whose authors I respect and like. Dan North wrote one of the best books on digital aesthetics four years ago (get it here) and he irregularly blogs about sci-fi, puppetry and Naomi Watts. I am especially fond of his Build Your Own Review category. The Film Doctor posts good linklists every weeks and writes delightfully snarky reviews (“The Artist: When Homage becomes Fromage”). And David Bordwell really needs no introduction. He’s easily the most interesting academic film blogger around.
For some (very rarely updated) fun, I follow Adam Quigley’s Tumblr.
I have a problem. I actively enjoy a genre of music that is one of the most reviled among music journalists: prog rock. I also don’t care much for many artists and styles music journalists regularly hype. And I find the kind of writing about prog rock that does exist mostly quite dull and old-fashioned. So I only read three music blogs in support of my wekly dose of the “Music Weekly” Podcast: The Guardian Music Blog for its occasional interesting theses about the music industry and columns like “The Indie Professor”; Eric Pfeil’s Pop-Tagebuch because even though I don’t share his taste, he is a very funny writer; and Jem Godfrey’s (Frost*) blog The View from the Cube, because I’ve grown so used to it.
When I was a media journalist, I had two tabs filled with feeds and added new ones almost every week. After I changed jobs, I kept only the blogs of the people whose opinion I generally find worth reading, no matter what they write about. In addition to the german opinion leader in the field, BildBlog, they are: Stefan Niggemeier, Katrin Schuster, Jeff Jarvis, Ulrike Langer and Christian Jakubetz. Also on my media tab: The Guardian Critic’s notebook. Reflecting now, maybe this tab needs a bit of a shake-up soon.
Cult and Culture
This tab holds the best of the rest and everything else that captures my interest for a while or for longer. A sort of hobby-horse of mine is linguistics and I always get my fix at Language Log. I’ve started to read its German equivalent, Sprachlog, but while I like the topics, I can’t stand the precocious tone of its author (one of the problems with blogs). Two blogs keep me updated on Geek culture, German heavyweight Nerdcore and Geekologie, which is infested with crude humour, but funny nonetheless. And then there’s four bloggers, who stand on their own. Sascha Lobo, a very disputed figure in the German blogosphere but I tend to agree with him; Lukas Heinser, who generally writes about pop culture in an amusing way, even though (once again) I don’t share his taste in music; Michael Marshall Smith, who used to be one of my favourite novelists, but has turned kind of sour, which makes for some interesting blogging sometimes; and finally, Georg Seeßlen, an influential German film/culture critic who has good ideas but always carries them a bit too far into convolution – I watch his blog with morbid fascination.
I read lots of other blogs as well, but I don’t read them regularly. I don’t follow their RSS-feeds, even though I like or respect their authors or their topics. There is only so much stuff one person can read in a week. Luckily, the internet has found ways to let the most interesting posts from those blogs float to the top. One of them is aggregators like Rivva, which I mentioned last week. The other one is soial networks, the topic of the next episode.