Monday musings on Australian literature: Aussie Lit and Facebook
In writing this week’s Monday Musings I will be venturing a little into my discomfort zone. It’s not that I don’t use Facebook because I do, having been a member since 2007, but that I’m not an expert in how to make the most of it. I figure though that this post might encourage some discussion and teach me a few things in the process. Let’s see …
Early in the life of Facebook, cultural organisations and groups saw that it was the place where people – particularly young ones – were congregating, and so they decided they needed a presence there. Most though, it seemed to me, had no idea what to do with that presence, and their pages languished somewhat. But, in the last year or so, things have changed dramatically. Part of the reason is that Facebook’s functionality has improved, particularly in the way pages now “push” information. Previously, I had to GO to an organisation’s page to see what was happening. There was no way I could remember every organisation on Facebook that I was interested in – and if I did remember, I didn’t have the time to GO to them just on the off-chance they had added something new. Now if I “like” an organisation, its communications appear in my feed. A big improvement – except of course the quantity of material being fed to me can be overwhelming (even with my pretty small list of “friends” and “likes”). I’m not sure what systems are out there to help me manage that … but I assume there are some. If you have any hints, please let me (us) know.
Facebook certainly isn’t my prime source of literary news and information, but I’ve noticed that I’m learning more from its feeds now, than I did even a few months ago.
That’s my intro … the rest of the post will simply list a (highly selected) few of my favourite pages that relate to Australian literature. (I’m not sure whether the Facebook links will work for you if you are not on Facebook, but I’m providing them anyhow).
- 100 Years of Words is special to me because it relates to the production of an anthology of writing to celebrate the centenary of Canberra, Australia’s capital. The anthology, titled The invisible thread, will be published in 2013. I can’t wait to see it … but in the meantime I am enjoying the literary bits and pieces the team shares about literary things of interest to we capital residents!
- Australian Women Writers was established in response to discussions over the last couple of years about gender bias in Australian publishing and book selling. I have mentioned the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012 on my blog (and have a clickable badge to it in my sidebar). The AWW page aims to network authors, reviewers, bloggers and readers – and is very keen to look at all the genres women write and read in. It serves a broad church (within its gender-limited field).
- Meanjin (which ran last year’s Aussie Tournament of Books) is a good example of a literary magazine Facebook page that keeps me in touch with their magazine, their blog and general literary news.
- Text Publishing and Allen & Unwin are two publishers whose feeds I find useful, partly because they publish overseas authors as well as Aussie ones. I’m not totally nationalistic, you see!
In addition to the above are pages for writers centres (such as the NSW Writers Centre), literary festivals (such as the Melbourne Writers Festival), blogs (such as my friend Lisa’s ANZLitLovers), and so on. There are also author pages, but I’ve not generally found them to be particularly useful for general literary news. I guess that’s natural. They’re primarily about promoting their own books.
Finally, just to show that I’m not totally rah-rah about new technologies, much as I appreciate the benefits, I’ll close with a quote from a post on Meanjin’s blog. The writer James Douglas discusses Jaron Lanier‘s book, You are not a gadget. Here’s Douglas’ conclusion:
The message is simple: the tools available to us from digital technologies, especially the tools that afford us the opportunity to ‘publish’ ourselves—Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.—may offer us exciting and stimulating opportunities for communication, but they also change us as people. It is our own responsibility to pay attention to what these tools do to us, how they express our individuality, how they value or devalue our work. This, I think, is one way to make sense of DeLillo’s remarks that email encourages ‘a response that I may not be willing to execute.’ The immediacy of email, in DeLillo’s view, interpellates him as an individual marked by ‘availability’; accessible and responsive to contact. Web 2.0 open culture may necessitate open people, which is not always to our benefit.
There’s much to think about here on how we engage with social media. For me it’s not a case of not doing it, but of working out what I’d like to get from it and trying to keep it to that. Easier said than done, and I recognise that some impacts on me may be subliminal, but I plan to keep trying.
I’d love to know if you use Facebook and, if you do, what you like and don’t like about it. Do you primarily use it for communication with friends, or is it also a useful tool for news in your areas of interest?