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October 2007: Five Years

     I remember sitting in a booth near the kitchen door of the restaurant my girlfriend worked at, dishes were clanging and I was hungry. Gorging on plates of free chips and salsa, drowning them in gallons of free drinks, the idea of semantikon was born. I remember feeling the friction warm my hand as I traced, and then re-traced my pen over the coarse paper of a large sketchbook on that cold February night in 2003. Two months later, in April, the site launched, purposed as an online repository of literary works that had come into the public domain. In May of 2003, Mark Flanigan came aboard on the terms that he could write as he wanted in his “Exile on Main Street” column (which would become Exiled from Main Street, where he still writes as he wishes). By October of 2003, after countless conversations with people in the Cincinnati arts community, and, those in a loose network of people I had met from around the web, semantikon turned towards its current incarnation, with our first literary feature Aralee Strange, in October of 2003. Entering our fifth year, we will take stock, look at the community that has developed, will trace over the years to see where we have grown, what has faded beneath endless iterations of the site, and hear from some of the artist we've featured.
     How to mark a particular moment on the internet is a difficult task, a task which requires you contend with producing witnesses that can only recall something seen, maybe heard, but with no evidence. Early on, I recall fielding an e-mail from someone who wanted to unsubscribe from the semantikon newsletter, the body of the e-mail contained this simple message “unsubscribe me, content is not information”. Harsh reckoning this, but a common phrase, one sounded early, and now, often, by those debating the role the internet plays in community life, the role it has played in shifting power away from traditional media forms. Clear now, as it was then, the internet medium re-opens publishing, creative expression and opinion in ways that traditional mass media is simply unprepared to contend with. The idea of content has shifted; content is no longer defined by the taken-for-granted sanctity of a physical product, a locale, or, a format. The internet caught large media organizations unaware, and once understood, seen them slow to the punch, apparently bloated after massive mergers. Small media organizations were anxious, they were small and few in the emerging era of media behemoths. Small media organizations would have to stare a “mature” 24 hour news cycle in the face, compete for less, and sometimes, for free. To counter the rise of a real alternative to mainstream media, via any delivery system, the argument was lodged, and then, carefully reproduced that “credibility” and “information” were somehow related, that the name was more important than the facts. Lost in the shuffle of this death march, two causalities; first, the awareness that credibility actually has more to do with persuasion, with taboo, than facts. Second, the that media organizations often work from the same sources. It could have been made no more clear than a quote from Gerald Massey; "They must find it difficult...Those who have taken authority as the truth, rather than truth as the authority". I was grateful for that reader’s cynicism. I was also aware semantikon had not better explained itself. We had failed to make ourselves distinct. Had failed to reckon one assumption audiences had about contemporary arts coverage in the media; that for the most part, the talking being done, would be talk about music, nationally distributed films, and visual art that bothered people. The remainder of time and space available in media dedicated in large part, to developing cults-of-personality around those that can master a word count, and a cursory knowledge of rock-n-roll politics. People were simply not used to direct access to an unknown writer’s works, access to visual art unencumbered by the expectations of social polity or vocabulary. The ability to see films at home, make connections and conceptual leaps through links and additional resources. More Punk Rock than Mick Jagger, semantikon was going for something else, we would have to learn as we went along, only time could tell.
     Five years later, semantikon serves to continue developing a novel arts publishing operation; an operation that is part journal, part archive and part community sounding board for the contemporary arts world. Working to make the most of communities that would have been inaccessible previous to the internet, semantikon is participant, and model for how the internet can augment community life. semantikon makes space, where often, there is none, and for those who have labored for that space, an effort rightful to take pride in. Taking every advantage to make use of the internet’s media rich environment, each edition, semantikon composes presentations that explore the varied facets of our feature artist’s creative lives, giving our artists the reins to speak for themselves, in-depth, and with dimension. Editorial control of our features resting with invited editors, former features, and with the semantikon community of users who submit works, semantikon requires input from all involved to be maintained. Through this process of interaction, those who have labored, have learned to make the most of the internet medium, of the technological opportunities it affords, while also laying claim to a medium that is a hallmark of their time, with works that speak to that time. At every turn, semantikon works to shift expectations about what arts publishing can be in this medium. This effort has, in no small way, helped those that have taken part, to open claims for a new dialogue about what constitutes support for the arts. Make claims about what people can, and rightfully should, demand from other media organizations that include arts coverage. Ad-free, copyleft and not-for-profit, semantikon supports our features through
internet television, eBooks, radio, broadside posters, interviews, and our newswire. On word of mouth alone, semantikon has generated five years of features in visual art, literature, performance and motion arts to an audience of nearly 8,000 community users every month. No small feat.
     Launching into our fifth year with this edition, we say thanks to those who have shared their works and their time to help realize this space. We say thanks to those who have spread the word about the site. We say thanks to those who have added a link to us on their websites and blogs, and have kept us in their boomarks.
     As this year progresses, look to future editorials to learn more about how semantikon has progressed in its five year journey with stories, artwork and guest editorials. Until then, enjoy this month’s new features, and be on the look out for site enhancements as we continue.


Lance Oditt
10.11.2007
editor at semantikon dot com


   
 
   

 






semantikon home semantikon editorial feature literature feature visual art cinema lost and found feature columns semantikon electronic library learn about site features share your works with semantikon community need help? promote, donate, volunteer your privacy matters