I'll give you the main threads running through my mind as I was taking notes, so hopefully you'll be able to understand the things I wrote. Honestly, there was a lot to take in. The room was packed and really stifling. I was one of the few people under 22, and one of the few non-hipsters. Who knew "all the sad young literary (wo)men" were all pale, fragile, vintage-wearing Agyness Deyn knockoffs? I guess I should've assumed that. Alone there, I felt wide-eyed, like I was just surveying New York for the first time.
Jezebel's Moe was cute in person. She drank Colt 45 from a paper bag and definitely lived up to my scattered-and-adderalled-brain vision of her. It was interesting how Moe was the only woman on the panel, but the audience was split pretty 50/50 between desperate young writers and their playthings. I hope all the women weren't just muses and put the pen to paper, too.
There were four key speakers, plus Gessen. The whole thing was set up kind of formally, with a podium where each speaker would orate from. The topic - most broadly put - centered around the internet and how it's changed humanity, writing, culture, everything. I could've told you that. The speakers - all but Moe - seemed also very bitter about the internet's encroachment on their personal selves, as each one of them bitched about being subjected to internet cruelty via anonymity. They were all obviously talking about Gawker. But besides that, the speakers brought up a lot of interesting things I hadn't previously considered.
Anyway, here are the things I wrote down:
- Some girl in front of me saved all the other seats in my row and now when people swoop by searching for seats and realize they're taken, I look like an asshole who saved seats for my imaginary friends.
- Moe is late. Very late. It's 6:58pm and the show starts at 7pm.
- The woman sitting in front of me asked me to retie the strap of her dress. I blushed doing so. She probably thinks I'm a lesbian.
- Quote from one of teh gayz sitting behind me: "Do you ever read Gawker?"
- 7:15pm and they haven't started yet. I'm beginning to nod off.
- Okay they're starting. First up - Mark Greif, an n+1 editor
- So far all he's done is elaborate on metaphysical and pretentious ponderings concerning the tangibility of the internet vs. "real life." -- As the girl I met on the L train afterwards told me: "It was kind of... passe."
- The idea that everything has been said/done before and is now online for everyone to see.
- The idea of "shopping." Some things are not inherently commercial, but the internet makes EVERYTHING commercial, even intimacy i.e. online dating.
- An organized blog is a literary form, while the comments generated by that blog are an oral form. The politeness and mores differ for each form, and therefore create friction between one another. Blogging, even if it is grammatically incorrect or snarky or irreverent, still adheres to a literary form, while commenting, even if it's not anonymous, takes on a more slack approach akin to typical day-to-day speech.
- Even if you don't go on the internet, other people can say things about you, making you Googlable = "I don't possess myself."
- Next up is Caleb Crain - author and New Yorker contributer
- How is the internet changing literary style? Little fiction or poetry is put on the internet with the purpose of being read solely on the internet.
- The internet as inhospitable to quietness.
- Text on the internet is read in a jazzy way as if the internet is always welcoming you to a party. Writing on the internet is more popular when the reader wants to find a connectedness. There is an obsession with being part of a group and keeping others out. (Totally referencing Gawker here)
- Blogs have no backstage area. In the internet, everything is in the front - audience sees you from all angles.
- Moe - Drinking Colt 45 and reading from an email. At least she quotes Nick Denton as saying, "Is there anything redeeming about the n+1 crowd? Some girls seated near me made a face when Moe stated she never derived pleasure from deriding people and their egos. They didn't clap when she finished. I guess it's Gawker vs. Jezebel AND n+1 vs. Jezebel vs. Gawker. New media battles are confusing.
- Blogging degenerating into overshare garners page views.
- Ben Kunkel - Author of Indecision, co-founder of n+1
- Internet divided into 4 topics: Pornography, politics, commentary and information. Exist with and contradict each other.
- Porn: A cultural phenomenon but private and anonymous.
- Utopian aspect of porn is the fantasy of imaginary world where shame is impossible. But shame is a symptom of the entire internet.
- Politics: Politicians unfortunate enough to live in this era are subjected to the perils of celebrity without the perks. Heightened surveillance.
- Politics as an area of public life where logic of celebrity operates easily.
- Whereas porn wants things to be found out, politicians do not.
- Commentary has anonymity, and the commenters can't be humiliated while there remains something humiliating about being the commented on. It brings the nasty things people say behind your back to the private realm.
- An anonymous commenter suffers in their own way - perhaps reason for expressed rage. Celebrity cannot suffer the pain of facelessness.
- Information - facilitates knowledge, like Wikipedia. Counterpart to villainy of commenters.
- Porn Star: "I will tell you who I am and how I feel."
- Politician: "I will tell you who I am but not how I feel."
- Commenters: "I won't tell you who I am but I will tell you how I feel."
- Information: "I won't tell you who I am or how I feel."
- Online there is an acceptability of sex and fact, but in real life, these things are moralized.
UPDATE: Apparently Sheila at Gawker had a similar reaction to last night's event.