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bodega list (2009) - Jeff Sisson

By John Michael Boling

"I would like every bodega in New York City to have a homepage."

"Bodegas on the bodega list come from off-premise liquor license listings on the New York State Liquor Authority website. Bodega images, locations, and names are gleaned by humans using the "IS THIS A BODEGA?" tool. Once a bodega has been verified, it appears on the list and on the red dot map."

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Tom Moody 6 years, 10 months agoReply

I think this is a good idea but as I suggested to Jeff Sisson via email, the documentation could be clearer.

As I understand it there are two different lists:

When it says "Bodegas on the bodega list come from off-premise liquor license listings"

that refers to an *unpublished list* of unverified bodegas that Sisson maintains.

When it says "once a bodega has been verified, it appears on the list and on the red dot map, and it is given a homepage"

*that* list is the long list you see at http://www.ilikenicethings.com/bodegas/

The "homepages" are the pages with the embedded google street view and address, where it looks like you can add comments.

My fear with a project like this is that its "success" is defined as getting reblogged by Rhizome and We Make Money Not Art and then it gradually falls apart. Remember Street Meme? An Eyebeam-launched crowdsourcing project where people identified graffiti tags out on the street and there was some kind of ranking system. The system was never completely functional and the creators lost interest in I think less than a year. But it didn't matter because the main tech art portal/aggregator sites all gave it the big thumbs up.

I'd like to see the Bodega project become a popular NYC institution, loved outside the tech art ghetto and enduring for many years, a real urban resource celebrating these non-chain store, practically invisible but vital institutions, so prove my gloomy prognosis wrong.

Brian Droitcour 6 years, 10 months agoReply

A bodega is something you search for with your feet, not the internet. If you need a bodega you just walk down the street until you find one. What makes this idea interesting to the "tech art ghetto" is its absurd nonfunctionality, its joke about the internet as an out-of-control database that catalogs things that don't need to be cataloged. The project starts to look misguided and silly if you inject it with a social conscience by saying it celebrates "practically invisible but vital institutions." They're only invisible if you never leave your computer to go outside.

Tom Moody 6 years, 10 months agoReply

It's refreshing to be criticized for having a social conscience, since I'm usually "insulting artists" by being apolitical. My point is once you have your little moment of absurd non-functionality it's on to the next project. I was imagining absurd non-functionality on a rather grander scale, with lots of New Yorkers actually participating in this thing. I believe something could be an urban resource and still kind of a joke. We-love-bodegas-but-not-really.

Brian Droitcour 6 years, 10 months agoReply

I'm not convinced that mass participation would make the project more successful. Making this a huge resource would just mean extending the joke until it's not funny anymore.

Having a social conscience is great but I don't think you're doing this work any favors by emphasizing its social aspect. Championing small-time capitalists is a pretty bland political stance for an artist to take.

Tom Moody 6 years, 10 months agoReply

Thanks for continuing to emphasize my social conscience. You are building up some serious cred for me here. Obviously you take my point that absent any larger group participation it is just a little joke and Rhizome probably shouldn't have validated it as "tech art."

Matthew Williamson 6 years, 10 months agoReply

Is that Rhizomes main function, validating "tech art"?

Bill 6 years, 7 months agoReply

No, just to inspire to think and appreciate things beyond their own comfort zone.

Schlomo Husein Andreasen 6 years, 9 months agoReply

'Bodega' - a good word, isn't it. There was a time when bodegas were plentiful. I wonder when they will only exist online. I fear it will happen much sooner than we think. The website will be an archive of an extinct phenomenon.

Brian Droitcour 6 years, 9 months agoReply

No, I don't take that point. And clearly you don't take mine, which is that the work's reflection on the nature of the internet is what makes it internet art.

Brian Droitcour 6 years, 9 months agoReply

I wouldn't say the function of Rhizome's blog is to "validate tech art," since its readers already recognize the validity of the art covered here. It's about creating dialogue between works (like bodega list and Cory Arcangel's Starbucks Center of Gravity) and facilitating discussions among readers, like the one we're having now

Tom Moody 6 years, 9 months agoReply

"its readers already recognize the validity of the art covered here"

This is my point–make something, announce it in a press release, get a plug on tech sites for your "innovation," put it on your resume. Six months later the innovation is another dead web site. We're discussing bodega list now because I questioned this aspect of it. Whereas if the thing had been allowed to develop its own life through a network of friends, viral growth, journalists finding out about it through the grapevine, and people in New York actually, possibly contributing to it, the author might be forced to work the bugs out of it and think about what it means beyond his original, announced intention (if it acquires any such meaning). I say it deserves better than the ghetto of presumed successful projects. It's a lot of work for a passing smile about "cataloguing things that don't need to be catalogued."