Proposed Website Update of the American Musicological Society

According to its August 2012 newsletter, the American Musicological Society (AMS) wants to update and “bifurcate” its website ( to have:

  1. a members-only part, with much of the site’s current content, but possibly also a new, wiki-like, member-contributed database of primary and secondary sources
  2. a non-specialist part, which supposedly might include:
  • a digest of user-friendly articles on topics of general interest (one on Sousa marches apparently being the best example the society has)
  • commentaries on current topics related to music (e.g., film scores)
  • strategically-planned short videos about individuals
  • info on potential speakers
  • links to writings intended for a general audience
  • lectures on great composers/themes in music history

It sounds way too patronizing and predetermined to me. Who’s to say which things should definitely be “members only,” who’s a “non-specialist,” what’s “user-friendly” or of “general interest,” which current topics get to have public “commentaries” and are merely “related to music” (presumably as opposed to “being” music), which members get to release video profiles and/or potential-speaker status, which things are obviously intended to be for a “general audience,” and which composers and themes get to count as “great.” It’s quite the potential train wreck, and why should the issues for the AMS website be any different from what would be considered by the proposed AMS Standing Committee on Internet Technology and/or from what would be accomplished by the idea of having a new tagline and logo for the society?

Too little. Too late. Not nearly good enough.

See instead:

The best way for musicology to engage with the public is just to:

  1. put things up 
  2. let individual members decide if something is public vs. private (and let them change their minds later)
  3. let anyone use the public items (but giving proper credit)
  4. let members discuss every type of content

The content types include:

  1. research
  2. teaching materials
  3. pieces of music
  4. interviews
  5. film/TV/media items
  6. job postings
  7. paper calls
  8. events 
  9. general discussion

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