Saturday, January 14, 2006

How blogging can help architecture: edit.

[Editors Note: DYWSC? is blog is about Architecture. This post was back-dated [From Jan 30th] to keep it off the top of the page, but still keep it in the discussion.]

The act of editing adds intellectual input. Editing is the contribution bloggers can make to the online architectural community. Sure, this means presenting biased information. We need it.

The problem is that the current state of architectural blogging mirrors the state of the internet today.

Data on the web is hosted at unrelated but interconnected servers all over the world. The address of the data is dependant on who pays for space and hosting rights on the servers, not on the topic or subject of the data. Behemoth search engines like Yahoo and Google comb the hyperlinks that connect the data in an effort to build giant models of the continually evolving web on their own servers, and to present indexed views of these models to people who visit these search engines.

Mostly, an individual’s navagation of the web falls in two categories. Individuals follow particular hyperlinks because they valued a past experience at that site or they use hyperlinks for the first time on the recommendation of others. Search engines results fall into this second “recommended” category, even though such recommendations are automated.

Some of the best blogs act the same way search engines do. By compiling topic-specific hyperlinks, they act as clearinghouses for the new, interesting, and inspiring content that makes its unorganized way onto the web everyday. In this first function, bloggers act as a highly attenuated web portals, using their online persona, personal taste, or stated aims to dictate whether or not they should post links to found material.

By just pointing attention to other content creators one could argue that bloggers are simply reinforcing the power structures that they inherit. Blogs contribute nothing and reinforce the establishment by not creating content and merely pointing to other content-creators. Blogging could do so much more, and many in the community are keenly aware. By adding comment and spin when delivering these links, blogging has assumed a second role: as tastemaking historians.

Tastemaking has long been the appointed task of print and televised media. While bound by advertising needs and regulation, traditional media’s tastemakers were trusted to television and print’s huge audiences because they had editors. This source of discipline and restraint enriches traditional media by pushing writers, but editors are a luxury that today's bloggers can rarely afford.

Historians, with the benefit of hindsight, have the ability and authority to tell us what influences are most important. The daily orgy of new content on the web is the draw that perpetuates blogging audience, but this constant demand to post about “the new” is a chimera for most blogging efforts. There becomes a problem when demand to report on “the new” overshadows many blogger’s purpose; the agenda (merely) becomes to reflect what is new. Paradoxically, this drive is antithetical to the role of historian. Sadly, “the new” replaces “the important” on many blogs.

Editing blogs to respect a stated mission statement or written series of goals can help prevent this paradox. By doing this, all architectural bloggers can raise the standard of written word in our medium, and focus our energies on the passions that drive these efforts. From the focus, blogging can even transcend the role of the tastemaking historian. New content, provided exclusively on architectural blogging web pages, legitimates this genre of word and image. Many of the architectural blogs out there are the product of aspiring writers. Congratulations to these writers and continued success.


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