I just finished the reading of an article posted on Urban Omnibus entitled "On Criticism 8: Critiquing Critics". I am now following on twitter the enthralling conversation on this article between Mimi Zeiger (Loud Paper), Alexandra Lange (Design Observer), Kazys Vernalis, and Javier Arbora on architecture and criticism, specifically the lack of criticism in architecture blogs, if I want to sum up this interesting conversation.
From these reviews, conversations, etc., I retain two or three points that I want to discuss, be they naïve or not. "criticism is just on renderings" and not on actual building.
1. First: Can we compare blogs to Magazines? No, I will say Not at all. Blogs are blogs while Magazines offer more space to discuss, analyze building. I always (but this my opinion) consider blogs as 1. "reuters-type" media or a space for architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning lovers. More and more architects use this media to share their projects which help bloggers to get information rapidly and by the architects themselves. I do not really know how to qualify my blog because I do not have any editorial line. Yet, I am working on a web magazine that will have an editorial line. This will be much more difficult because web magazine cannot function as print magazine as I will say further. Which editorial strategy can I opt for? that of web platforms like Archdaily, dezeen, Design Observer, Designboom? No, why should I? Opting to a strategy based on print magazine? I would like, and I truly am thinking of adopting such a strategy. But how can I pay my contributors? Who is ready to write for free with this financial crisis? Consequently, essays will still lack of criticality, profondeur (profundity), quality? I will say further, many of you may be nostalgic of texts with quality such as Peter Kelly's one. I will second since I am, myself, nostalgic of Rosalind Krauss' essays. However economic issues cannot allow for such essays. Another point that distinguishes blogs from print magazines concerns… printing and texts length. firstly, most critics on buildings are usually published three or six months (depending on the periodicity of the magazine, if it is a monthly, it will be three months, but if it is a half-yearly…) after the building being completed while blogs take advantage of Internet to publish immediately news. Second, the negative point for bloggers is that it is difficult to write more than 1000 words since you need to think of the reader; You need to wonder whether or not he/she will take time to read more than 2000 words (I usually don't consider words length as important. I surely write more than 1000 words). I received an email asking to cut (or better to rewrite) a text I proposed for a guest-blogging project to reach the required 800 words. How can you write an essay in 800 words, I thought. I reduced it but it lacks up to 60% of its sense and quality. Concision is important but essays require much more spaces that blogging cannot offer. Alas… Hence the importance of print magazines which are more flexible.
Writing the first point, I am thinking of eVolo. eVolo is first a magazine of architecture. However, it has an important presence on Internet with daily publication, twitter and facebook account. If you compare the content of the print magazine to that of their "blog", you will see that the second one merely relates news (probably from renderings) while the first offers essays, conversations, and points of view of architects and designers, and visit on site. Maybe we should see the limitation of such a media that is blog in terms of content. I do not know…
2. "Nostalgia for the heyday of print architecture magazines in the 1960s and 1970s" voiced by Joseph Grima of Domus. Well I will say that magazines will still have their importance because blogs do not have the capacity (and the quality, perhaps?) to surpass print magazines. In consequence, I don't see and don't understand the "nostalgia". Print Magazine can take advantage of media such as blogs or platforms such as archdaily (the question is not pros or cons these media). I still do not know what but I know it will because it has to. Print magazine must think on readerships. What to propose to my readers? This is probably the more difficult to think. I am still wondering how such magazines like Wired do. What are their strategy? If I can, I will copy it. To sum up, as a blogger, I spent my time to read, and read, and read magazines and could not live without them. Then the last point. Why should be based our comments on renderings? Well, the most difficulty is to choose between news and analyze. If one opts for news, it is basically hard to visit all these sites without any budget. If one opts for analyze, the critical issue that some participants to this panels have pointed out is the issue of money. Visiting building requires money that much bloggers, like me, who blog for free cannot afford. But this is my choice. Maybe in few years, a business model for Internet, specifically for blogs, may help us visit sites. Some bloggers on technology, and beauty earn money. I am glad for them (but they must in turn be "nice" with the brands they blog on. So, you need to choose)
3. "Blogs are reporting an obsession, and not taking a position", as Eva Franch, Director of Storefront for Art and Architecture, stated. It is possible to take a position as a blogger, let's take some examples: blogs on politics, philosophy etc. These bloggers take positions. But this will depend on frequency of posting. In the case of Architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture/urbanism, (as well as other fields), taking a position calls for research and a vast culture in architecture but not only: in sociology, history, philosophy, even in theory of politics (I am thinking of the architect Marcus Miessen), in mathematics (but it is an evidence), in geography (idem), in urban planning (idem). For most of blogs that I love (or do not love) reading, I am not sure that they have a strong interest in taking a position. Some want more readers. In turn, they have to publish regularly if not daily (weekends and holidays included), others just passionately are in search of the news, the just-achieved, the in-progress. In my case, I will second BLDGBLOG Geoff Manaugh as I will never replace any magazines. First it is not my intention, then, this is impossible. Online magazines will never be able to replace print magazines because Internet is not a media that can be comparable with print media, radio, or television, to extend to other media. Internet requires rapidity. It is too fast to manage, analyze classify information from Internet. And many (maybe, I do not know, but I presume) readers (of blogs, web magazines) appear to be much more interested in the architects who just unveiled their design proposals but will (or may) complete theirs reading with magazines. Yet some will probably respond "I prefer a critical analyze than a "reuters-type" of analyze "if we can speak of "analyzes". I will be agree as I mentioned above, but can it be possible? That is the question.