a note on blogs

A video of the lectures that Javier Arbona and I gave at MIT on blogs and the discussion we had with Mark Jarzombek will be up soon, but until then I thought I'd put up a few notes that I ran out of time for in my talk.

I think that we need to look at blogs not as something that will transform architecture or architecture criticism per se, but rather as phenomena of network culture. What follows is a brief set of observations about the importance of blogs to architecture, and to network culture.

Blogs are not temporal. The chronological nature of posts is a ruse. That’s not how we read blogs. Chronology doesn’t accrete in the blog. Our sense of time is being redefined.

Blogs are symptomatic of a redefinition of the individual. What matters to bloggers are the links into their blogs. A blogger only exists as a function of the links into their site. An unknown blog is a scream in the forest. Instead of an authorial voice, the blogger is an aggregator, a switching machine that remixes content. The blog is a transition away from the old notion of individuality. In many ways, this is a return to pre-modern ideas of the self.

Blogs blend the public and the private and have no space for high and low. We’re in a new flattened field of nobrow. As Alan Liu writes "No more beauty, sublimity, tragedy, grace, or evil: only cool or not cool." Instead of distinction we have linkbait. Say something outrageous and you get more readers. Topless architecture!   

Blogs embrace the niche. Blogs appeal to idiosyncratic, niche audiences. For a blogger finds it is better to have 100 fanatical followers than 10,000 lukewarm fans. If today there are bloggers who are more well-known than their professors, will there come a time when bloggers will be hired by universities (am I the first in architecture)?

The wealth of blogs is a great question mark. During this economic crisis, we a massive decapitalization of knowledge work in favor of free labor. Not only does Open Source software drive most of the Web today, but news bloggers are effectively replacing newspapers. If the best architecture criticism is now on blogs, how does this culture of free actually function anymore? Is there any room for anyone who doesn't have a trust fund or access to lots of credit cards to contribute to culture?   

Comments

temporality

I realize you are making sweeping generalizations, and sweeping generalizations aren't necessarily intended to withstand careful parsing, but I'm not sure I follow the first assertion ("blogs are not temporal").

That the chronology of a blog, or the temporal experience of a blog, is different from that of other media seems right to me, but I'm not sure what it would mean for something to be non-temporal. Are not all things, including both the blog and the reader, embedded in time? My experience of blogs is extremely temporal, at least in some senses, in that I read a new set of posts on each new day of blog reading. Perhaps this chronology is more constant and less dictated than, say, the chronology of a newspaper or a magazine, but it still seems like a chronology to me (even if the chronology of reading a blog is not as linear as it might appear based on the ubiquity of the time/date stamp).

But I doubt you didn't think of these things, so perhaps you could expand a bit more on what you mean by "not temporal"?

auto-publishing online writers

I have just now listened with considerable interest to the video "Blogitecture" (MIT HTC Forum, n.d.) featuring presentations by you and Javier Arbona. Concerning the present article ("a note on blogs"), however, and its cursive list of talking proposals in particular, I fail to see fresh or remarkable insights coming from your obviously exploratory or hypothetical attempts to arrive to an interesting new, re-/, or emerging definition that would plainly differentiate or set apart the work of traditional print press writer from the writer who basically self-publishes online - or in a word, blogs. I find every point that you deftly draw in attempt to chronicle the ostensible rise of the digital scribe equally relevant to his technological precursor.

Is there any difference? I think there is. To accentuate distinction, I would classify the latter as an auto-publishing online writer.

Let me emphasize, the tenor of your intellectual discourse delights me.

auto-publishing online writers

I have just now listened with considerable interest to the video "Blogitecture" (MIT HTC Forum, n.d.) featuring presentations by you and Javier Arbona. Concerning the present article ("a note on blogs"), however, and its cursive list of talking proposals in particular, I fail to see fresh or remarkable insights coming from your obviously exploratory or hypothetical attempts to arrive to an interesting new, re-/, or emerging definition that would plainly differentiate or set apart the work of traditional print press writer from the writer who basically self-publishes online - or in a word, blogs. I find every point that you deftly draw in attempt to chronicle the ostensible rise of the digital scribe equally relevant to his technological precursor.

Is there any difference? I think there is. To accentuate distinction, I would classify the latter as an auto-publishing online writer.

Let me emphasize, the tenor of your intellectual discourse delights me.