The site created at Emory University for its students in postcolonial literature and theory is extensive. It is a great way to gather seeds of inspiration about this and related topics. The design though is very basic and quite old fashioned in web terms, however the sprinkling of images does help to break the text up and give more space to the theme. This is a site that has grown over the last 11 years with the vision of not merely being a resource for students at Emory but to aid the investigation of the theme for anyone interested. It clearly includes reference sources and likewise establishes strong boundaries about the use of content of its own pages. Personally, I am not keen on being given a Warning! and the amount of information elements to include in a reference (if given) seem over the top, especially with regard to date of access, network and length, but then I am a reference virgin. I do understand that it’s important to credit peoples’ ideas and writing so that students can delve deeper and follow a credible and progressive avenue of thought.
I think the grouping of authors/critics/terms and issues/journals is a good structure but I get a bit bored with the list approach. Especially for Issues perhaps there is a way to present the links in a mindmap formation which would give us a bit more information about the timings and connections of various subtopics. The biographies of the authors and critics were sufficient but not necessarily very inspiring. I personally think it always adds power to quote actual text to illustrate various ideas from the authors and critics referred to. I also feel that a consistent approach is important ie. to illustrate major works and themes for all persons mentioned – at times there were major disparities in the length and quality of information presented. Having said that the referencing and links was generally of a very high quality and would serve any potential postcolonial investigation.
I welcome this genre of collaborative writing that seems to have been catalysed by academia. As tutors have sought to create a shared resource for their students they have realised that the collating and sharing of that information can be beneficial to many others in their pursuit of knowledge. With the introduction of internet technology and blogging, in effect we are able to present one another and often total strangers with our ideas (?) about other people’s ideas and our own research and experience. This new platform of self expression then enables discourse and discussion. I personally welcome any medium that supports and encourages us to write both spontaneously and methodically about ideas and values we are being asked to examine or hold in the world. Writing is a great skill and I suspect the more we do it and relax and enjoy the process, the more fluid and eloquent it can become.
Certainly as an artist it appears that to compete in the ‘art world’ on any real level, it is imperative that one find one’s voice outside the art. These days it is an integral process in making and exhibiting art, to be able to articulate your ideas about it, framing and contextualising them. Artists have to be sophisticated beings groomed to appear on a world stage, touched by the scent of celebrity. Art has also had to compete for resources nationally and through business sponsorship or patronage. From my limited knowledge it appears that whilst the whole debate about what art actually is or could be, has opened up dramatically over the past half century, it has become an ever competitive, dynamic and potentially lucrative market. There is more at stake – greater press coverage, celeb status, more prestigious art prizes, sophisticated and entrepreunarial collectors and dealers to contend with. The pressure to appear professional and authoratitive, indeed ‘a specialist’ is ever present in a bid to stand out and be noticed.
In addition in this age of postmodernism where art is seen not to be original, instead a simulacram, a copy, a representation or combination of existent elements, it becomes a higher priority to explain the work, piercing its surface and apparent superficiality. So the practice of writing and articulating ideas becomes ever more important. The gleaning of the writing talents of others through internet sites and blogs, through e-publishing and forums as well as more traditional media acting as potential catalysts, references and authorities for our own ideas, perception and interpretation of so called ‘reality’. I am really appreciative of this vision of sharing, cooperation and potential collaboration. I also like the more open academic approach to licensing as seen on http://www.creativecommons.org whereby you can choose to waive some of your rights over the authorship or creation of work. It could be construed that such licensing which can give people permission to use work for academic or commercial activity promotes creativity and success breeds success philosophy. Yet I do have reservations about l businesses such as photographic, design and advertising agencies using work for commercial projects without due recompense.
We live in a world where science and technology are extremely dominant and sophisticated elements of our everyday lives. As our lives grow in complexity and the business of science competes with the arts for resources, it appears that art whether it chooses to reflect the state of culture in the present day or not, must at least contribute a coherent, analytical debate.