Oct. 9, 2008
By DAN CONOVER
I started Xark in June 2005 after several months of exciting and frustrating blogging about news media. My insight: Because "successful" blogs were typically only interested in one thing, they quickly tended to become oppositional monocultures. I discovered I just wasn't that interested in discussing narrow media topics with passionate media junkies absent the context of art and politics and economics and pop culture.
I sketched out the ideas that would become Xark in a notebook during a family vacation, and it occurred to me that it might be good to launch the site with a list of what I believed to be true (regardless of the proof I could offer).By the summer of 2005 I'd become disheartened by the tone of many online discussions and had acquired a specific peeve: I didn't like it when other people demanded that I defend the stereotypical beliefs they'd projected on me. I wanted to make my own statement -- and that "beliefs list" in my notebook quickly sprawled.
I called it The Xarker Manifesto, and it's an effusive trainwreck of a document: Overlong, numbered, strangely organized and oddly divided into 14 sections, illustrated with my own photos and whatever images I could find around the Web. I published it on June 29, 2005, and it instantly disappeared into indifferent obscurity -- an irony, because I was terribly afraid that word of my manifesto would make its way back to my employers, who liked to pretend that none of their reporters held any personal opinions whatsoever.
Are there things I wish I'd never said? I go back and forth on that one. Would I say some things differently? You bet -- and in at least one case, I've amended the original (though I've left the original words for anyone to compare the difference). I hope to make additions if I get smarter, too.
The Manifesto never found an audience, but in looking back over the material recently, I realized there's stuff in the Manifesto that I'd reference today if it were posted in a more link-friendly fashion. Hence: As part of my Xark 2.0 tuneup, I've broken out each section to its own stand-alone page. Combining the new Roman numerals for sections with the original numbered items makes the Manifesto a much easier thing to navigate.
Writing your own personal manifesto is a surprisingly valuable exercise. I encourage everyone to try it -- and feel free to send me a link to your results.
PS: With the exceptions of Section I and Section II -- which talk in general terms about the idea of xarking and the rules for participation on this site (here's a clue: they're subjective) -- this document is nothing more than a personal statement of the author's beliefs and narratives. It is not a constitution. It is not a required belief system for the other people who post or comment here.
The original 'Xarker Manifesto' post from June 2005