About Ryeberg

What’s Ryeberg?

Ryeberg publishes essays about books, movies, Internet culture, celebrity, sex, relationships, sports, identity, illness, cute animals, self-image, rage, death… the list goes on (look to the “Themes” section in the sidebar for guidance). This makes Ryeberg an “online magazine” but with that important difference: essays always include video clips, either as a starting point or as lyrical counterpoint to the text.

written text + video clip/s = a Ryeberg

In short, Ryeberg is what happens when you combine the discursive essay with online video. You get yourself a brand new essay form.

In another sense, Ryeberg is a “video show-and-tell” for writers, artists, musicians, and critics. These Ryeberg curators write about whatever they feel like writing about.

When and where did Ryeberg launch?

The first Ryeberg essays went up on June 14th, 2009, launched from Ryeberg’s home base in Toronto, Canada.

Does Ryeberg still publish?

No. The last Ryeberg went up December 14th, 2014.

What was the purpose of Ryeberg?

In the late 2000s, watching and sharing video clips was becoming a routine part of our lives. Ryeberg saw that these videos were a source of compelling questions and useful discussion.

Why not make better use of all the video content pouring through cyberspace? Why not surround it with intelligent, convivial discourse?

Websites that organize and present the most interesting internet videos already existed. How was Ryeberg any different?

Actually, in 2009, sites that showcased interesting videos from YouTube and other video-sharing websites didn’t really exits. Frequency and Devour only appeared in 2011.

Ryeberg was different. Its organizing principle was the curators themselves. Their enthusiasms and interests would dictate what videos appear, just as their commentary shapes how we see those videos. Ryeberg’s Themes section (check the sidebar), which separates the video essays into categories, evolved as content appeared on the site.

Ryeberg believes that the way videos are framed and presented shapes their meaning and our experience of them. But Ryeberg had no agenda. The diversity of Ryeberg curators means that the site offers no particular bias, no final word, and no totalizing discourse. Any topic and any approach goes. Think of it as a disjointed collaboration, one designed to encourage friendly and meaningful exchange.

OK, but video hosting sites like YouTube already have text comment sections. Why do we need Ryeberg?

The commentary sections on video-sharing sites tend to fall short of the task that Ryeberg seeks to accomplish, and this is not only because of word limits.

Ryeberg refers to its contributors as “curators” for a reason — to suggest that they are dealing with video clips in much the same way a gallery curator deals with works of art: Ryeberg curators select from the vast, disordered warehouses of video-sharing sites, then interpret and present their videos in a way that best serves their perspectives and purposes.

A “Ryeberg” — the end product in this process — is neither wholly video nor wholly text. In a sense, it’s a genre unto itself, defined by its two indivisible, organic parts: video & text. It’s the most modern essay, and one that has gradually become more common in cyberspace since Ryeberg launched in early 2009.

Please also keep in mind that in early 2009, it was still fairly novel to push the term “curator” into new and unexpected contexts. Ryeberg is well aware that since then it has since been battered by misappropriation and over-use. Making a decision — like what shirt to wear or what video to post to your social media feed — is not an act of curation.

I still don’t quite get it. Tell me more.

Perhaps you should read a few of the essays. You might also want to check out this nicely written article which appeared in The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national paper, pretty soon after Ryeberg’s launch. Or else read this interview with Erik Rutherford, Ryeberg Editor, which appeared on Open Book before Ryeberg’s first live event.

Why is the website called “Ryeberg”?

“Ryberg” was the maiden name of Erik Rutherford’s Swedish grandmother. Her father was Rudolf Ryberg, so the site is a variation on the good man’s good name. Read a little more about him here. Erik Rutherford is the creator of Ryeberg.com, and its editor. You can get to know him better here.

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Rudolf Ryberg (1896-1981)

Does Ryeberg ever host any live events in the non-cyber world?

Yes, Ryeberg puts on live shows. The first one happened at the Drake Hotel in Toronto in June, 2010. You can see pictures from the event right here. Ryeberg made it out to Canada’s west coast now and then; check out pictures from Ryeberg Live Vancouver 2012 and Ryeberg Live Vancouver 2013, and Ryeberg Live Vancouver 2014. There was also the unforgettable Ryeberg Live Toronto 2012. Alberta played host to two amazing Ryeberg events, Ryeberg Live Banff 2013 and Ryeberg Live Calgary 2014.

There’s always a chance Ryeberg Live will happen once again. To be informed of dates and places, leave your email here. Don’t miss out!

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