Home > Feature > Essay > Jerry Saltz needs a blog

Jerry Saltz has been using Facebook for a while now, and gaining some well-deserved press. His posts range from simple comments/questions to more recently
his major commentary on the MOMA.
Notice that I am having to link to the blog of Ed Winkleman. This will
allow non-facebook users the ability to read and comment … which
brings me to my topic here. Jerry Saltz needs a blog; it is the correct
technology for his practice of posting/discussing. But despite the
massive impediments he experiences with Facebook (like deleting
comments), he insists on not having a blog.

I would like to
explain here why none of his "reasons" are valid. I am doing this
because I am a huge fan of Mr. Saltz, and want him to have the maximum
possible reach, flexibility and happiness going forward. I would like
to start with Ed Winkleman’s very delicate innuendo for Jerry needing a

"For some reason, Facebook (FB)
limits the number of "friends" you can accept to 5000. That might seem
high enough, but compared with Twitter (in which Ellen DeGeneres, for
example, currently has
2.1 million followers) it makes the social network a highly limited means of communication. "

SO, several people (including myself) confronted Mr. Saltz on this issue. His replies are below:

Saltz Reason #1: “Facebook has something I’m looking for in the art world and in my own
work: Art criticism happening in real time. I love blogs. But, Blogs
are more autocratic, run by one person. Moreover, the same commenter
can post under dozens of false names (an artist, dealer, curator,
critic, etc. who doesn’t like a review can post scores of comments
under scores of names). On Facebook you have to identify yourself by
name and picture. This creates what I’m after in my own work: Radical

Beautifully written, but wrong.

1) A blog is just as real-time as FB.
2) FB accounts are run by one person, just like a blog.
Comment settings can be customized to prevent anonymous commenting, and
any other preferences he requires. He can even make it so only Facebook
users can comment on his blog (via Facebook Connect). However, I think
his idealization of FB authenticity is a myth.
4) Radical Vulnerability is undermined by the exclusivity of FB. Being open to the entire web, and searchable, is far more open.

Saltz Reason #2: "Thank you for the vote of confidence about having a blog. To me a good
blog has to be refreshed daily or even twice daily. Frankly, I don’t
have that much on my mind. Plus, I have a full time job writing a
weekly column of art criticism; that takes almost all of my waking
hours. Seeing 40-50 shows a week, figuring out what i might want to
write on, sorting through my responses, making a choice, doing a teeny
bit of research, sitting down to write and looking into the abyss. Then
you write and send it in to an editor who usually has questions and you
basically write it again or at least write it better. Then you go
through all of the fact checking, then check the profs. And all of this
takes place in seven days, almost every seven days. So, writing my
weekly column is pretty much the ONLY thing I do. Luckily I LOVE doing
it. That’s just one reason I don’t want a blog. Also, and i know this
is what your Mom wouild say, I have no technical acumen whatsoever; I
have no assistant.”

Essentially, he is busy and worried that he does not have enough time to make a "good" blog.

1) He is spending way more time wrestling with FB than he ever
would for a blog because he is trying to make FB do something it was
not designed for. He is trying to use it as a blog. A blog would save him time!
2) Misconception about what a blog has to be. Plenty of writers post only once every two weeks (like Malcom Gladwell) … or one sentence posts (like John Gruber). His Facebook updates (as is) are perfect for creating a good blog.
No technical acumen? Once again, FB is much harder to use than a blog.
Plus, thousands of people would be happy to volunteer to set this up
for him and provide any assitance he needs.

He is simply being
fearful. And his lack of appreciation for the technical advantages of a
blog prevent him changing his opinion. Here are other benefits for
using a blog as the base of operations, over Facebook:

– Open to the entire world, not just FB
– Long or short form posts (with no character limits like FB)
– Unlimiting commenting (unlike FB which deletes everything once you reach 100)
– Indexable by Google
– Easier to add links, pictures, etc…
– Archives!!! (FB has always been bad for searching history)
– A blog is not subject to policy whims of FB. (You can’t export your database FB)
– A blog can be monetized. Eventually, he will deserve to get paid for his time via ads or sponsorship

Keep in mind, a blog does NOT mean he cannot have a FB account. Ideally
he could use both together, the way they were intended. A blog would
just fix all the problems he is having currently and make the rest of
world much happier. I understand Facebook Pages will have much
increased functionality (which he will be switching to) but many of my
same criticisms hold up for those as well.

Update: I wish I had titled this post differently. Mr. Saltz is already blogging, he is just not using a blogging tool … resulting in frustration. But this post is ultimately not about Mr. Saltz, rather, my intention is to clear up technical misconceptions about using Facebook vs. Blogs.


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