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The trouble with blogs is a matter of density. Blogs are a specific communication platform. They retain a uniqueness in language that relates to interface structure. Not as dense as a magazine but likely not as light as a tv-spot, the greatest asset of blogs is that they’re ongoing. Blogs make enduring dialogue possible and because they are specific in nature they may acquire a depth that otherwise wouldn’t seize in the short term.
The evolution of web standards had a definite impact on blogging interface. As we all know, blogs are much more graphic now than they were a few years ago. The visual features have gained power over the textual dimension.
As far as architectural blogs go, this trend has contradictory consequences. Interestingly enough, the most acclaimed blogs are still the ones with the best written text. But as far as editing goes – as far as what gets the spotlight and what doesn’t – the visual element has become growingly decisive.
Not surprisingly, what goes on under thriving economies gets wide visibility even though the substance of its architecture may not always match the prominence of its looks. Hence the rotating towers, the high-rise achievements and countless architectastic buildings that look like something: from boats to flowers to stuff coming straight from star wars. It doesn’t matter how architecturally irrelevant the tallest building in the world is. It’s still “the tallest building in the world”. A rotating tower may be an intellectually frivolous concept but hey, it rotates. If you haven’t seen it before, it’s news. And the previously unseen makes for great blogging material.
So there’s this downside to blogging when you think of it as a learning tool, because what gets noticed isn’t necessarily the most relevant but that which is most visually remarkable – which is often not the same thing. A good example of this can be found on the issue of “sustainable architecture”; or how blogging is a contributor to the establishment of an aesthetic understanding of eco-design. Architecture going literally green - grass on the roofs, trees and bushes hanging from the walls – as if this was necessarily the expression of sustainable ideals in the realm or architectural design.
One of the contributing reasons for this outcome is a sense of conceptual interpretation – the need to visually translate ideas. A mechanism to which blogs are particularly subsidiary to. For it is much more complicated to delve into the specificities of the design process – either relating to environmental impacts of applied materials, matters of cost-benefit or the gains of specific design solutions – than to produce a visual grammar for green-building.
In a wider scope one could say that blogging – despite its positive aspects, and there are many – is contributing to the global culture of simplification. Too much synthesis, not enough analysis. Which is somewhat disappointing, as this is a medium where discourse doesn’t seem to have a beginning or an end – and long-term examination should, therefore, be the paradigm of intellectual contribution. In the end, it doesn’t really matter that the tower rotates. What matter is why we are driven for that single idea; what compels us in the name of something, either it be the new or the old, the decadent or the sustainable. And if so, maybe blogs, these open forms of dialogue, can assist our understanding and bring us closer to some kind of awareness.