Sunset Time for newcritics – 2006-09

by Tom Watson
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Newcritics logo Over at newcritics.com, it’s time to close the front door, turn off the lights ’round the bar, hang up the closed sign, and walk out the back way for the last time. This little group culture blog, which began as an experiment in the winter of 2006-07, is putting its xml to rest and moving on. No heavy heart accompanies the closure; newcritics.com was never more than a nifty digital hang-out for a squadron of bloggers who wanted a convivial crowd to shoot the breeze with over conversations about film, television, books, music and the like. In that way, it fullfilled its promise brilliantly.

“That newcritics crowd,” as it was known in some corners of the cultural blogosphere, came together original over politics at the old roundtable in the back of the Algonquin Hotel, grew via WordPress, and convened virtually around esoteric filmfests, live-blogging Mad Men, and arguing about old Stones records. What a great group, especially the core of regulars: the gracious and fab M.A. Peel, who was most nearly my partner in organizing this temporary salon, the prolific Lance Mannion and the generous and witty Blue Girl, musicologists Jason Chervokas and Dan Leo, the serenely cinematic Siren and the erudite Robert Stein, the culturally agile NYC Weboy and the peripatetic Neddie Jingo, book maven extraordinare Maud Newton and comedy guru Dennis Perrin, Kathleen and Manny Maher (the Nick and Nora of our set), and the TV fashion bloggers Claire Helene and Jennifer Krentz, rock and roll wild men Tony Alva and the Viscount, the caustic Brendan Tween and film fanatic Chuck Tryon, to name just a few of the more than 50 bloggers who posted over there (not to mention outside linking support from Vanity Fair‘s James Wolcott, a fan of the cultural scrum, and a hearty group of regular commenters).

What a crowd! And it was a privilege to invite them to newcritics every week for a couple of years, and kick the cultural zeitgeist around the saloon for a while. I loved it. But the party’s moved on. To Facebook and Twitter and other venues. What we did there was for and of its time – entirely worthwhile, but always time-limited and impermanent. A long conversation, but one with an end.

When I wrote CauseWired last year, I included a brief description of newcritics.com in the book, because I’d gained valuable insight into online group dynamics, and because I saw that conversation itself as a cause worth supporting. I still think it is – but it’s also clear that it will happen elsewhere. In some ways, the glory days of personal and immediate blogging have passed newcritics by; but in another sense, it’s really just part of a continued evolution in social media. The conversations I’m having on Facebook and Twitter with some of the very same people who used to hang out at newcritics are every bit as good as the ones we had at this particular web address.

So let those conversations continue. And thanks for stopping by.

[Note: we’ll keep the archives up for a bit, then my guess is the site will go the way of all flesh. Comments are still on, but require full registration, so I don’t expect many. I’ll see you all at the next roadhouse.]

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