What does it say about me, about the time in which I find myself raising a daughter, that after she was born—but before I updated my will or my beneficiary preferences on my bank account—I rushed out and bought her name as an Internet domain? I’m telling myself that I think she will have more control over her public identity, more opportunity for social and professional growth, more actual presence in this world, than she would without it, particularly as technology and the Internet occupy more and more aspects of our lives. That’s probably wrong, because a good many things that parents think are important when their children are young turn out to be the last things of any real value or use to their children by the time they are “grown.”
And yet, I persevere, thinking that I have done my daughter this great service. I imagine all of her tween friends scrambling to find some clever way of rearranging their names into domain format because their actual names have been taken by some kid in a different state or country (undoubtedly because those kids have thoughtful, savvy, generous parents who had the foresight to reserve such things well in advance of their being called into action), while my daughter is counting up the hits and visits, tracking her Google analytics, making sure her posts are optimized for the proper search terms that will attract the right “friends” online, and maybe even setting up a little online store to sell the undoubtedly clever trinkets she will be making by hand. Ahead of myself? Yeah, a little. But consider that her last name is Hall. For those of you not named Hall, let me explain that, in the digital world, those of us who are named Hall are constantly being confused with college libraries, dormitories, or administrative buildings that have domain names. I’ve actually started a collection of images of buildings named Sherman Hall, because I like to pretend they are named after me.
For all I know, in the next 10 years, the Internet will morph into a series of infinitely interconnected mini-apps, and websites as we know them will cease to have any relevance at all. For example, one of our associate editors, Jessica Knapp, explored several pinboard sites that take the idea of the ubiquitous studio wall of postcards and clippings and make it into a well-organized, digitally cross-referenced collection of online images and notes. It’s like taking your own studio wall of inspiration and putting it online for others to browse, in exchange for being able to browse theirs. Sure, you can get lost for hours looking at everyone’s favorite images and inspirations, and it can feel like you’re just surfing randomly, but my point is that the studio wall is exactly like that—its purpose is random inspiration via casual contemplation. But with the pinboard sites, you never visit anyone’s actual website; you visit a few of their ideas and interests, mixed up with other people’s ideas and interests. Check out Jessica’s article “Cloud Collecting” to learn more.
I also wrote a little piece in the Clay Culture section about “Community Supported Pottery,” whereby several folks have used traditional mailing lists, as well as digital tools, to gain relatively small-scale, but focused, financial support from their communities for everything from large kilns to small new product lines. It seems so simple, and yet in many ways this is a new phenomenon and practice in studio ceramics. It’s small, but I think it has potential for growth in much the same way that studio tours have really taken off and become a viable path to making a living.
There are so many new things like that happening all the time in ceramics, and we try to keep up on as many as we can, but there is only so much we can put in this magazine. There are always events we can’t cover to the extent that we would like, and developments in the field that don’t seem to have a place in current publications. And while you would think, after all this discussion of magical digital solutions, we would have started yet another website or online resource to address this, we’ve come up with an actual printed solution in the form of Ceramic Arts 2012: Yearbook and Annual Buyers Guide. Those of you who are subscribers will recognize the buyers guide part, which has been a supplement to Ceramics Monthly, and has been mailed with the November issue for years, but you will now notice that it has a new look and new content that is focused on significant events and developments during 2011, as well as information we think you would like to keep handy throughout 2012. One of the most exciting new additions is the establishment of the Ceramic Artist of the Year Award. Again, those of you who are subscribers can simply open it up and learn about this year’s winner. The rest of you—well, okay, we’ll give you this one; you can go to www.ceramicsmonthly.org, where we’ll make it available from our home page for a limited time. See, where would you be without the digital world?