"Like a state covered by a range of microclimates, the culture world is a baffling and contradictory place these days. The last decade or so has been a rough time for much of the creative class--with a bad economy, the disruptions of digital technology, piracy from every direction--and for cultural institutions in particular. The record industry has been fraying since Napster; independent film studios have shuttered as noisy sequels swallow the movie world. Radio has gone from bad to worse in the age of Clear Channel. Bookstores are being destroyed by Amazon. Reporters and critics and photographers continue to lose their jobs. And much of what’s selling big is worse than it’s ever been.
"The long-tail, 'culture wants to be free' crowd told us the decentralized 21st century would make culture rich, complex, eclectic. The breaking up of the mainstream into a series of niches, however, has not produced a great flowering. Of course, as cold winters can surprise everyone during an era of global warming, there are exceptions: In some fields actual quality has become one of those viable niches."
Scott Timberg in Salon wonders if cable television will become a model for cultural production.