I hope these words find you in good health and high spirits. [to add: short funny and self deprecating story about myself]
I write you to collect your thoughts on a puzzle that has bothered me in the last few days. Some of the newspaper websites that I visit regularly have called on their readers to send “images of the recession.” National Public Radio’s Planet Money has collected in bulk over 300 pictures in flickr. The UK Guardian has a recession monitor, also in flickr, introduced frantically “So it looks like we’re in a recession, or heading for one. Or are we? How do we know? We want to see your shots of how the recession is (or isn’t) affecting your area.” Finally, the New York Times has not outsourced and hosts “Picturing the Recession” with some cool flash enabled browsing. I recall our conversations about the FSA photographs and discussing Cara Finnegan’s book Picturing Poverty on that same topic. These are items of visual culture as you are fond of calling them, and I of echoing. I wondered if you had noticed this phenomena and if you see how one can speak meaningfully about it.
Cynically, I see these as mostly gimmicks to draw people to web content and give them a stake of ownership. The websites and the newspapers make no direct use of the readers’ photographs, I found no references to these besides the appeals for more. It does not help newsprint in imagining the economy as the FSA photographs did by design. What do you think we can draw from these? May they tell us something about popular culture? If these are clues, what is the mystery?
[to add: tangent about some of the photographs, and so cool down the letter]
With best regards,
[to add: my name]
P.S. [to add: joke about recipe of cod and fava beans…]