I wrote about this in mid December ( first post | follow up ) but with my connection problems and the holidays it was hard to follow up on too closely so I’m bringing it back up now. LACMA, that being The Los Angeles County Museum Of Art, has installed a firewall that blocks off much of the internet from it’s employees view. This includes, and depending who you talk to maybe even focuses on blogs. Including art blogs, including Los Angeles focused art blogs like our sister site art.blogging.la. I know this because several employees of LACMA have been in touch with me detailing the problem from the inside.
The reason given (to employees) for this was to prevent internet viruses from spreading, however I would guess that pretty much anyone who has ever heard of the internet knows that you can’t catch a virus from reading a website. This sounds to me like an excuse given either by or to someone who has no idea what they are talking about or is intentionally trying to mislead people. Either way, and maybe it’s just me, but I have a notion that a person like this shouldn’t be making such decisions.
Since you are reading this on a blog, I’ll skip the discussion about why blogs are important and why it’s insane that an art institution in Los Angeles would block access to a Los Angeles focused art publication. The issue here, is that since all blogs are not on one server, there’s no way they could have just “blocked off those kind of sites all together” as their employees are being told. They can still access other museum sites, art gallery sites, and pretty much the rest of the web – just not any blogs. Clearly a list of sites was complied and those sites were blacklisted. I want to know why.
I want to know because specifically I think this is a problem here in Los Angeles and I think LACMA will suffer by having under-informed employees because of it, but also because I’m a blog publisher and if a company is out there selling a prepackaged blog blacklist that’s something I should know about. I was given an e-mail contact of Andy Dworkin in their technology department so I sent him a note and asked him a few questions, such as:
“I’m interested in knowing where this blacklist came from. Did LACMA create it or did they just implement a list created by a third party?
If the list was created by LACMA, why were art blogs included on this list? Given that many of them are a valuable source of information written by industry professionals, it seems odd that LACMA wouldn’t want their employees to be able to read them.
If the list was created by a third party, what does LACMA think about the fact that this list is blocking art world sites?
I e-mailed that on December 9th and still haven’t heard back. Not being one to just let things fade away, I asked for a better contact – someone I could put on the spot on the phone and get an answer from. I was given the contact for Domenic Morea, their publicist. His number is 323.857.6515 and I’ve left him several voice mails, none of which he’s responded too (Please, feel free to give him a call yourself). Apparently I’m not the only one getting the silent treatment on this matter. Employees were told they could submit websites and request for access to that domain to be reinstated. Several have submitted such requests and they too have heard nothing.
I made a commitment to get to the bottom of this last month and I’m not going back on that. I’m just going to keep calling, and keep posting about this until either they respond to me, until someone else with more weight takes note and steps in (causing them to actually respond), or until the #1 Google result for “LACMA” is this thread.
Update: Thanks to all the blogs helping push this issue ( MAN, Grant, LA Observed, 2020 Hindsight, grammar.police, LA Voice and Artblog) – a little birdie told me that the LA Times is working on a piece about this now.