Are you connected?

Online social networks are the new big thing. So it is great to see classical music social networking site Dilettante Music making a big splash in the mainstream media with support from BBC Radio 3 and names like Nico Muhly. As the Dilettante website says:
We’ve harnessed the latest web tools to break down the barriers to classical music ... so you can discover who’s who, what’s what, and what people are saying about it ...
Regular readers will know I'm always keen to discover 'who’s who, what’s what, and what people are saying about it' in the classical music world. So I followed the social network to find out a little more about Dilettante Music.

My starting point was an article on the Guardian classical music blog in February 2008 enthusiastically headed 'Love classical music? Head for Dilettante'. Unfortunately this piece omits to explain that Dilettante's founder is Canadian entrepreneur Juliana Farha. Or that Ms Farha is a sometime Guardian contributor, although her profile elsewhere on the paper's website does identify the Dilettante connection.

My next source was a Times article in February 2008 headlined My Big Idea - Dilettante which identifies Juliana Farha as founder. But this article does not explain that Ms. Farha is married to Kit Malthouse who, as well as being a director of Dilettante Music is a contributor to the Times. Kit Malthouse is also deputy mayor for policing of Conservative controlled London with responsibility for the capital's law enforcement agency, the Metropolitan Police, and a director of several financial businesses including hedge fund Alpha Strategic PLC.

The Times article does explain that Dilettante 'is supported by All Media Guide (AMG), the musical archive that offers expert editorial content via articles and reviews'. But the piece does not give the background to AMG, who are owned by Rovi Corporation (formerly Macrovision Solutions) which has extensive interests in copy control software and media metadata, including owning the Muze database used in most music and video stores.

All the above information is quite correctly in the public domain and is available online in a few minutes to anyone who wants to know 'who's who and what's what'. Classical music desperately needs innovation and promotion. In a world where connections are everything Dilettante Music looks set to succeed.

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Pliable said…
By complete coincidence, in today's Times -
Pliable said…
Before any more arrive I would point out that anonymous comments will not be accepted for this post. Only comments supported by a valid and verified user profile will be uploaded.

Comments showing Profile not available will not be published. Comment is free, if you have an identity.
Patty said…
I just signed up for Dilettante, even though I have to look up how to spell the darn thing every time I type it. We'll see if I can figure out a thing about the place. For some reason I'm confused by the simplest of things.
Pliable said…
I'll be interested to hear what you make of it Patty. As I said in my post, it's an interesting idea with some equally interesting connections.
Pliable said…
Comment received:

Philip has left a new comment on your post "Are you connected?":

Ouch!! I'm not 'anonymous', I'm Philip, and I've always enjoyed writing my occasional comments to this, my very favourite music blog. And now I can't because I don't have a profile online??

Fair comment Philip. In more than five years and, as of today, 2179 articles I have only had to restrict comments on a handful of posts.

Comments from readers that make a contribution to On An Overgrown Path are more than welcome. Those that pursue other agendas behind a cloak of anonymity are not welcome.

The monitoring software on the site allows me to see if a visitor has been on the site before, where they come from, how long they stay, and what they are searching for. With thousands of visitors every day the log data is rarely viewed. But yesterday one particular visitor stuck out like a sore thumb by their IP address, by their unusual search pattern, and by the fact that they created an anonymous profile with the specific intent of commenting on this article. Which I rejected.

Censorship? Yes and no. If there was no ‘censorship’ on comments there would be many, many comments purporting to say something nice about articles, but in fact selling online piano tutors and all sorts of other things via a link at the foot of the comment.

So comments are already censored. So why did I not simply reject yesterday’s anonymous comment? Because, if I had done so I would probably have been accused of clandestine censorship.

Reader’s comments are taken seriously On An Overgrown Path. Often they correct my errors, which are always acknowledged. This is important as many of my articles are linked from Wikipedia and other sources and some are used by colleges for course work, and I do not always get things right. Readers’ comments are also used to start new threads, often the most interesting on the blog.

On An Overgrown Path takes a lot of time to write and maintain, which is my choice. But the amount of time spent checking and responding to comments and also emails (usually promoting the interests of the sender) that are not published is becoming a real problem. I cannot speak for Alex Ross. But, I am pretty sure the reason why Alex does not allow any comments on either of his blogs is the time that is involved in managing them. I am committed to allowing comments in the future, unless abuse of that facility makes it impossible.

Comments from readers without a profile will continue to be posted on other articles, unless stated otherwise. Fortunately the music of André Jolivet and other arcane topics seems to hold less appeal for the phantom commenters.
Pliable said…
A much more succinct summary of my position occurs to me.

I agree and comply with the FCC ruling that bloggers should reveal conflicts of interest -

And, similarly, comment posters should reveal conflicts of interest.
Philip Amos said…
I must confess, Pliable, that I misconstrued your earlier comment -- I thought it to be a blanket embargo on comments from the profileless, as it were. My apologies. But, that said, this has at least served to get the matter out in the open once again. I wrote a comment on a post some while back in which I thanked you for providing me, for one, with an education in the doings of various parties intent upon influencing independent bloggers, if not co-opting them wholesale. And so I had, even as I wrote my earlier comment, a shrewd idea of what had inspired you to write as you did, and I could hardly sympathise more. I must say that I see nothing of censorship in this. Literary blogs I read (and to whom I have tried to pass on lessons learned from your posts on these matters, though I am not sure with what success) that are not moderated occasionally have comments appear that are literally anonymous and often patently spam. They are summarily removed, there is nothing of censorship in it in any meaningful sense, and I see no difference between that and the sort of problem you have described here. 'Conflict of interest' I think a generous term in this context -- more often it is a matter of ulterior motives, hidden agendas, and flat-out skulduggery.

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