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Arts And Letters Daily
Dorothy - 16/10/98

A new web site updated daily keeps Phil-Literati in touch with top quality Arts and Letters articles on the Web.

An interview with Dr Denis Dutton

Denis Dutton
Denis Dutton
"This new web site has been produced for the use of humanists of every stripe -- anyone in the world who shares broad interests in the arts, literature, and ideas", said Denis Dutton, the initiator and publisher of Arts and Letters Daily. The site was launched on September 28.

The collaborators on the site
Denis is excited that he has brought together some remarkably skilled people who are working to make the site a success.

Managing Editor Sharon Killgrove, works in Beaumont, California, She is a former teacher with a background in philosophy whose expertise with computers is broad. Her business creates interactive online database/spreadsheet systems.

Contributing Editor, Harrison Solow, of Malibu, California, has several degrees with a background in Philosophy, Theology, Literature and Fine Arts. She has written several books and also been a developmental editor for various scholarly institutions, including university presses.

Contributing Editor, Kenneth Chen, is a student at the University of California at Berkeley majoring in English. He has a keen interest in the effects of electronic communication on culture, politics, sociology, philosophy, and art.

Denis himself is a senior lecturer in Philosophy of Art at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. He has had wide experience as a writer, editor and broadcaster, and currently edits the scholarly publication, Philosophy and Literature

Denis sees the site as serving the interests and needs of people involved in academic pursuits - researchers, lecturers, students, those who subscribe to upmarket magazines, those who like reading books and book reviews. In short it's for people interested in the arts and ideas as a profession or avocation.

Denis's view of the Internet
Denis gave me an interesting new image of the Internet. "People liken the Internet to a gold mine, but I think of it more as one of those vast low grade Australian gold fields. There are nuggets out there - very valuable articles, essays and news reports - but they are scattered and hard to find."

Because of his role as editor of a scholarly journal, and his interest in publishing and editing in general, he has been studying the extent of quality writing on the Internet for years. He has found that although it is hard to locate there is a considerable amount there if you know where to look.

The idea of gathering the best material on to the ADL site was first inspired by the Drudge Report, which collates a number of newspapers and columnists on one site.

Denis added to this articles from major magazines, each introduced by a "teaser," a short descriptive introduction designed to excite reader interest.

The major sources for article are such upmarket publications as The New Republic, The Nation and The New York Review of Book. These magazine and others as well like to show their wares by making one or two of their articles for each new issue available on the web for browsing. These sample encourage return visits to the magazine's site and give the magazine visibility.

There are now enough of these scattered sites that it has become possible to have a single site that links to all of them. The idea of Arts and Letters Daily is to have a site that brings together the very best and the most intellectually stimulating contents of the Internet.

Fast downloading
With its simple colour scheme and one page layout it is designed for fast downloading and quick access to new material. It has no illustrations or large graphics with animation which increase down loading times. It will download fairly quickly on a computer anywhere in the world. The aim is for anyone to spend a profitable half hour a day to go through the new material.

Scope of the content
Arts and Letters includes the humanities generally - ideas, new academic books, essays and opinion pieces of interest. Topics include philosophy, aesthetics, literature, language, criticism, history, music, art - ideas, trends, breakthroughs, disputes and gossip.

The best magazines and newspapers that the editors have identified are listed down the left side of the page. Publications such as the TLS which give only a table of contents are not listed on the page. Those listed have actual refreshed content at least monthly.

It is updated six days a week. The top three, four or five articles are new each day - a pattern which Denis says was suggested to him by the front page of NZine.

"I admire the way NZine brings together such a variety of worthwhile material," he says. "It's well laid out and easy to navigate."

An enthusiastic reception
In only ten days on line ALD has now achieved hundreds of hits per day and received positive feedback from readers across the USA and as far away as Paris, Helsinki, and Tokyo.

The Swedish Academy of Sciences especially sent the site its press release about the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature on October 7th. "I don't know where they heard about us, but I guess that means word is getting out," Denis says.

The feedback has been enthusiastic:
Your site is FABULOUS. CAN HARDLY WAIT TO READ MORE.

Thanks for notifying me/us about this site. It is splendid -- one of the best I have yet encountered over many years of browsing.

The Arts & Letters Daily! ... It is FANTASTISCH!! Hooray and 3x10^6 CHEERS for you & collaborators. What a great resource! Even for a fee, it would be worthwhile -- and it's free!

World wide electronic relationships
With the publisher in Christchurch, New Zealand, the server and editors in different cities in California, readers round the world, and the content in servers all over the world, Arts and Letters Daily is truly transnational. It could be described as the heart of a whole set of electronic relationships that have no one physical place - a product of the brave new world of the Internet.


Visit The Arts and Letters Daily





 
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