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
"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
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
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
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
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
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.