Online Indie Culture Survival Guide

Like a passionately noxious lover that I just can’t get enough of, the Internet consumes, thrills and overwhelms me. I can’t remember what I did before it came along and can’t imagine how I’d ever get by without it.

The Internet has grown into a spiraling beast that has coiled its tail so tightly around our lives that it’s become as much a part of our daily fabric as the plates we eat from or the pavement we pound. But while much of our daily physical environment remains static, or changes in slow, gradual steps, the Internet is ever morphing to reflect the non-stop intangibles happening around the globe: The ideas, journals, news, happenings and ramblings of individuals and organizations all around us. That the Internet is so full of possibilities and discoveries is exhilarating, but also intimidating. And it doesn’t help that it’s an ever-shifting entity, always expanding and changing.

So how do you look for indie culture online when there are so many places to start?

1. Let someone else do it for you.

Why spend more time surfing than you have to? News sites, online forums and bloggers act as information filters.

That doesn’t mean that you still don’t have to search, though, because first you’ll have to find which sources you want to rely on. First, you’ll want to find some sites that specifically target the main topics you want to be updated on regularly. Think about what really matters to you. If you’re into crafting, look for a crafting blog. If you’re looking for support and feedback on some projects you’ve been working on, sign up for a zinester emailing list or join a DIY forum. The trick is to first find a place that speaks to you, and where you might be able to talk back, too. Try to keep your main online destinations narrowed down to about three sites so you don’t get bogged down.

Once you’ve got your primary interests covered, you might want to bookmark a few sites that still cover your interests, but that might only warrant a visit once every week or two.

By keeping things narrowed down and by determining how often a site is visited, you’ll be getting more of what you’re looking for instead of just spending a lot of time looking around.

2. Know what you’re looking for.

Sometimes it isn’t what you’re looking for, but how you look for it, that can make the hunt for information harder than it has to be. Narrow searches down by using quotation marks around what you’re looking for. If you know specifically what you’re looking for, then type (for example) “Riot fanzine,” instead of just riot fanzine. You’ll get a more succinct search. You can also add other things to such a search by adding the addition symbol. For example, you might search for, “Mix tapes” + “Thurston Moore.”

3. Get superficial. Online style is as important as substance.

A lot can be said about a site by how it’s maintained. You wouldn’t buy a newspaper in which the most current update was 2005, so why hit a site that isn’t offering fresh information? Move on until you find something fresh. Readability and presentation are also important. If you’re looking to absorb information and be entertained, then make sure you’re looking out for sites that are visually appealing and easy to navigate.

4. If you can’t find it, do it yourself.

The Internet has long been hailed as the great equalizer, making it possible for anyone to do anything. If you’re totally stuck and can’t find that to-die-for resource on anarchist films or Canadian indie hip-hop, why not start your own site?

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