The Local Yarn

Changing Hands

This is an idea for an art installation.

Dozens of volunteers hold their arms up through closely-spaced holes in the floor of the room. You cannot see any part of the volunteers except their arms, which appear to be growing out of the floor. Each arm is sleeved in a different, random colour.

If not otherwise occupied, the arms sway from side to side, gently feeling around them.

A hundred-dollar bill is being passed from hand to hand all around the room.

Visitors to the installation may walk through the sea of arms.

Re: Accepting Footnotes

Matt Gemmell has recently examined the issue of whether and how much on-site comments add to the value of articles in practice. In his article Comments Off, he ends up on the side of turning them off entirely, saying that authors now have other options for engagement with readers, such as responses on twitter or on blogs.

The main problem I see with this is that when the ensuing discussion is conducted via Twitter or scattered blog posts, it is not collected or collated anywhere. It’s interesting while it lasts; but a week later the discussion as a whole has effectively vanished and it is very hard to track down again, even assuming you are aware it existed. This is little better than having no engagement at all; it can never add lasting value to the original article, unless the author assumes the burden of collecting and curating every follow-up tweet and blog post and appending them to the original – which resembles comment moderation far too closely to offer any real advantage.

My own approach doesn’t avoid the problem of placing the burden of moderation on the site author, but it does offer a middle ground between the all-or-nothing paradigm that seems to prevail in these discussions. As long as expectations are properly conveyed to readers, you can have engagement that adds permanent value to your site. And part of setting those expectations may be that we stop calling it “the comment section”.

Joel Dueck

How to be Permanently Beloved as an Artist

Produce writing, music, or artwork targeted at young children. Indulge in an atmosphere of optimism, playfulness and innocent wonder. Inject adult sensibilities where appropriate.

Be sure to make friends with children who enjoy your work. Respond to their letters, pose for their photographs, do them nice favours.

Spend an intermediate period of time out of the limelight while your original audience goes through adolescence. This is your “naptime,” the siesta of your career – enjoy it while it lasts.

Enjoy a new wave of attention as the kids who grew up with your work rediscover it as adults.

Enjoy making friends with more children, as parents begin introducing their little ones to your work, only partly as an excuse to vicariously re-experience it for themselves.

Always use your powers for niceness.

Re: Those Empty Altoids Tins

My little sister is in third grade and she had to make an instrument for music class. We wanted to do something that was small and unique. So I came up with taking sand paper and putting it on two tins. Then as a double I put rice in it to be a shaker. So in the end we had a shaker/scraper.

“He felt the full warmth of that pleasure from which the proud shut themselves out; the pleasure which not only goes with humiliation, but which almost is humiliation. Men who have escaped death by a hair have it, and men whose love is returned by a woman unexpectedly, and men whose sins are forgiven them. Everything his eye fell on it feasted on, not aesthetically, but with a plain, jolly appetite as of a boy eating buns.”
G.K. Chesterton, The Ball and the Cross