Thursday, March 22, 2012
A populist manifesto - blogs, scale of interest, engagement with the larger world.
Keep watching if you like for more thoughts on the manifesto...
( Manifestos try to make various types of claims. Claims about:
- norms within the filed
- collective forms of identity )
but I think I'll defer to Richard and let him define the architectural manifesto for us.
I find the most interesting aspect of the architectural blog to be its relationship with time. Perhaps this is just because I’m coming off a string of all-nighters and no longer have any concept of the thing, but I digress. A blog has a unique relationship with time, and this seems to be the most notable thing setting it apart from traditional monigraphs and manifestos. Since a blog is typically written and published by an individual, it doesn’t have to pass through an editor first. This means that there is no lag time between the moment when an idea is created and written down, and the moment when that information is dispersed to a larger audience. Blog entries can be posted much more frequently as a result, enabling the author to cover a wider range of topics based on whatever seems interesting on that particular day. The blog becomes a never-ending book, with each post adding a new chapter to the blog’s growing history. As readers, this is exciting because we can’t predict exactly what will be covered in future blog posts; we’ll have to keep checking back to see. Although blogging is a more recent phenomenon, some of the blogs we’ve looked at today have been in action for almost 10 years, making for a great deal of history. The archives section of the blog then takes on a new meaning; it allows the reader to essentially travel back in time and uncover trends in the blogger’s changing interests and opinions.
The “tag” seems to be one of the most interesting ways that the relationship between blog and time is highlighted. As each new blog entry is posted, the author can assign it a tag based on what specific topics are covered in the entry. Readers can then click on any of the tags and access all of the blog entries about that topic, dating from the present all the way back to the creation of the blog. This is a more specific way of delving into the archives of a blog; by focusing the search on a specific topic, it becomes easier to observe trends and interests. Many blogs today feature a visual list of tags in the sidebar, where the tag headlines with more posts appear as larger than those tag headlines with fewer posts (example: Ron’s 85 posts about rammed earth indicate to me that he’s been interested in that topic for a long time, I think. http://www.eartharchitecture.org/index.php?/plugin/tag/rammed+earth).
So far I’ve only talked about time as it relates to the author, but some blogs go further and address both sides of time—the moment when the author creates a post, and also the moment(s) when the visitor reads the post. Liam Young’s blog is a really interesting example of this, since he categorizes all of his entries by how long it takes both to write and read them. His “Fast Thoughts” column is primarily announcements about upcoming events—it probably only took him a minute to post, just like it only takes us a minute to skim through and get the specific details. The “Slow Thoughts” column, in contrast, contains more in-depth musings that are more like essays and require thoughtful reading. This categorization of posts based on a temporal measure adds another element into the mix, because it introduces the notion of short-term time. Most blogs are organized by long-term time (i.e. Geoff Manaugh and Lebbeus Woods both divide their posts by what month they were written in), but Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today instead focuses on the reader’s notion of short-term time. We must now ask ourselves, “Do I have 5 minutes to read a Slow Thought, or do I only have 30 seconds to squeeze in a Fast Thought before running out the door?”
I only have time to squeeze in one more Fast Thought of my own before I fall asleep, so here we go: my favorite blogs are those that seem like a continuous stream of thought—almost as if the author is just talking directly to you, without any filter. These types of blogs often change direction in the middle of a post, just as a normal conversation does. The blog posts are therefore almost broken down into separate thought bubbles, and as you read the blog, you can feel yourself passing from one temporary moment of thought to the next.