Can you feel emotionally invested in a publication? It sounds stupid, but when David Kuo and Conor Friedersdorf announced that Culture11 was closing up shop, I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. I just learned that a secretary at work was laid off a few days ago – she found out when her name was left off the new inter-office call sheet. Now half of my favorite writers are joining the ranks of the unemployed. Economic crises really blow.
It was pretty cool to witness the formative months of a new magazine. I commented over there pretty frequently, and a few of the editors were kind enough to drop by my comments section to explain their mission statement. They even managed to publish an amateurish article I wrote. Getting a check in the mail for something I’d do for free was incredibly gratifying, but I’d give it all back if it would help keep them afloat, plus interest.
Culture11 was a pretty special publication. The editors gave new writers a shot, published authors from across the ideological spectrum, and provided something of a one-stop shop for great blogging. But beyond all that, I felt close to the writers, who always did their level best to respond to interesting comments, reply to our emails, and even solicit reader submissions. So much of this new media bullshit is hype and snake oil salesmanship, but at Culture11, technology actually enhanced the relationship between publication and audience.
At this point, I can only hope that Culture11 becomes the Velvet Underground of 21st century Internet journalism, spawning hundreds of imitators across the blogosphere. For the immediate future, however, I wish the editors all the best. They have a lot to be proud of.