The problem with the UK underground press in the 60s was that it was concentrated in a few offices – you had Oz, International Times and Frendz. OK, so there were a load of smaller, local affairs as well (Genesis P-Orridge did a Hull based magazine called W.O.R.M. for example), but the bulk of the readership relied on getting hold of 3 magazines for their counter culture reading fix.
The problem with this was twofold – firstly Oz kept on getting busted, which meant that the availability of subversive information was immediately cut by a third while they paid legal fees etc.
The 2nd problem was that people concentrated on the major indies as consumers – it just wasn’t possible to produce something like Oz (with its colour layouts big list of contributors, advertising, distribution) from your back bedroom. This arguably led to a passive acceptance of what alternative media should look like and contain.
After punk, fanzine culture went into overdrive and the “big 3” were replaced by thousands of small circulation efforts, of varying quality. Now obviously some of these were completely derivative (copying Sniffing Glue, or later adopting the identikit anarcho-punk concerns) but the scope was there for people to produce their own brilliantly idiosyncratic ranty zines – and many did.
Some zines came and went after one issue, whilst others became regular treats.
I keep banging on about zine/cassette culture, but I do think there are some important lessons to be learnt. The first one is that people shouldn’t panic about their favourite blog disappearing (either temporarily OR permanently). Someone else will come along who is even better – and if they don’t you should get off your fucking arse and Do It Yourself.
The second lesson is that we need new voices. What makes Woebot, K-Punk and Blissblog so good is that they already had a voice, an outlet, a personal mythology before beginning their blogs.
And whilst I love them, you can see other people being inspired by their writing in a way which can sometimes be less than interesting. Reynolds’ form of analysing genre-development looms especially large in the blogosphere, for example.
It’s fine being inspired by things (everyone is, and I make no claims to be immune myself) but the problems set in when everyone is inspired by the same things.
I suppose what I am trying to say is that whilst I enjoy Matt and Simon’s writing immensely, I can also see the advantages of their blogs biting the dust. Move over, Grandad! 😉
I’m not saying that they SHOULD stop, just that it is inevitable that things will change – and that is to be celebrated, not feared.
Let a million flowers bloom…