A rhizome is a botanical term for an underground stem that connects plants into living networks. It also suggest this organization’s grassroots approach.

Rhizome.org is a nonprofit organization that was founded as an online global new media art platform. Dozens of programs and services support the creation, presentation, discussion and preservation of contemporary art that uses new technologies in significant but not necessarily better ways. One interesting example is the new section on vLogging or video logging, a sort of travel companion using video technology and interface design.

The community of some 17,000 proclaimed residents includes, artists, curators, writers, designers, programmers, students, and even some impressive educators. Too many to mention – sharing applications and ideas in a sort of mental hub. The problem with artists has always been their inability to organize. It’s the age old story of form and content. Too many cooks and there goes the soup. That being said, Rhizome does a good job in getting the band out of bed, and along the way becoming widely considered the world’s leading online resource for and about new media artists and their work. The interesting thing here is the open-access approach, the many-to-many, bottom-up communication systems of the Internet.

Members drive the content on the site while retaining ownership of their original texts and images. What a concept. Simple things usually don’t work. It’s why there are no cellphones and Gameboys in one. This time, however, it seems to be working.

There is The Rhizome ArtBase – an online archive that preserves and provides access to new media art works; Opportunity Listings, a New Media Art Calendar, a Member Directory and the Rhizome TextBase – an online library. A recently launched Commissioning Program provides new opportunities for artists working with new media. Events provide forums for artists and the public to meet in person. Like the old days of going outside your home to an opening. Can you drink at an online opening? Or flirt? I suppose events are necessary to get over the limitations of Internet-based communications. Just a thought.

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