2008: the year that blogs stop looking like blogs?

Looks like I wasn’t the only one to rethink the way their site looks: Régine Debatty’s wonderful We Make Money Not Art had a radical redesign yesterday. As with my redesign, the goal seems to be to have non-RSS visitors have a cleaner experience, eliminating the endless blog-scroll-of-death.

In Régine’s case, she’s kept an overview page with multiple stories but reduced the “teasers” on these to little more than images (how will she deal with entries that have no images, I wonder?) while the entries sit by themselves, much as my entries do. Its nice to see a continuity with the existing site and the search bar as title bar is fabulous. I’m surprised to see that such a radical redesign is possible within Movable Type, kudos to Régine and her designer.

Then there’s Brett Steele’s redesign of his site. Brett’s abandoned his old resarch.net site and now has brettsteele.net an interesting WordPress-driven site that he hopes reminds us of the New Yorker and the Economist. Brett’s design freely mixes his blog with announcements about his appearances, what he’s reading, the classes he’s teaching and so on.

Over at aggregät 4/5/6, Enrique is experimenting with different platforms as well.

bas jan ader

Artist Bas Jan Ader has always been important to AUDC. Thus, we noted with delight the Web site dedicated to his work, with an impressive video-driven interface (hard to imagine I would ever say that I like a video-driven Web interface, but that reminds me that I do need to revisit the interface to this site over winter break even as the lack of comment to my earlier post suggested that most of my dear readers do what I do and use RSS to browse blogs, avoiding visiting them entirely…).

Read more


The vastly influential International Listings Blog, just published its list of the top one hundred architecture blogs and—no surprise—varnelis.net does not rank there.

Naturally. Why should we? Blogging is passé, even dead, the new establishment. Nothing worse than being stuck in the wrong part of the diffusion theory graph like some of my dear friends.

But what then? Obviously my interests don’t address conventional ideas of design. But maybe there is an element of truth in my Fake Steve style rant (after all, congratulations are due to the 100 top bloggers that these experts in luxury real estate picked … namaste, my friends, I bow down before you)…

What if blogging is dying, mutating, changing. Where is it going to go? I stopped blogging between 2003 and 2005 out of boredom with the solitary nature of the endeavor but then the spread of RSS made it into a collective process. What’s next? There’s my interest in slow blogging, but there might be other models such as Daniel Eatock and Jeffrey Vaska‘s Indexhibit format or underworldlive or Perous Secret Diary (based on Jan Schjetne’s Death Boogie Diaries). Any thoughts?

Read more

the return of loud paper

Mimi Zeiger announces the return of Loud Paper, her incomparable architecture zine founded ten years ago. This time, Loud Paper re-emerges in blog form.

I’ve been watching and participating since Loud Paper was a student thesis at SCI_Arc.

It’s great to have Loud Paper back. Go read it.

Read more

drupal, network architecture, network cities, network culture

Some subtle changes this morning. The first is the implementation of Drupal 5.1 behind the scenes on this site. Discovering RSS and moving to Drupal got me back into blogging in 2005 after a year's absence. I have spent a huge amount of time learning this content management system (CMS), but it has really been worth it, not only in terms of being able to maintain this site, but also in being able to build sustainable infrastructures for the LA Forum, Networked Publics (offilne at the moment, but ready to be updated next week), Docomomo, and Netlab sites. During this time, Drupal has matured significantly, making layout and site administration much easier and making the program much more of a CMS than a blogging tool. The Open Source nature of Drupal often leads to quirky decisions about priorities (image management is not in core) and branding (it's called "community plumbing" and it could use more well designed themes out of the box). I'm never sure if the entire thing is going to derail in the next version or not and remarkably often developers of specific modules vanish into the ether (as the developer of a popular wiki module and the maintainer of a WYSIWYG editor recently did), but on the whole the Drupal community has been great and this powerful software deserves a plug. Who knows, maybe this year I will finally get to site development and even contribute a theme.

I am fairly sure that this is the longest running individual architecture blog on the web (see the lonely archives for entries from 2000 onward) but the idea goes even further back, to 1994. For a long time, it was enough to collect general observations on architecture and urbanism, but as blogs on those topics have proliferated (I count 20 in my RSS feeds alone), defining just what you are up to has become necessary. To this end, the other subtle change is a new mission statement (to the left, below my bio) and a new tag line at the top, "network architecture | network cities | network culture" that better reflects both my research work at Columbia and the focus of this site.

Read more

share your rss feeds

Starting this year, I will be commenting more on questions of interface design and on-line collaboration. In other words, might network architecture be as much about the architecture of the network as about the the network's effects on architecture (well, of course)?

As I am still super-busy, working on getting books like the Networked Publics book out the door, posts may be brief for a time, but to get going, Share Your OPML is something like a del.icio.us for rss feeds. If you try to keep track of lots of blogs, then you're going to need an RSS reader (I use Sage because I don't see the need to leave Firefox to read RSS…it's lightweight, simple, fast and free). If you are already scanning a lot of blogs, then it's time to see what else is out there. Once you upload your OPML (exported RSS list) file to the site (use OPML export under options in Sage), it will parse your list to find out what other people with similar lists are reading. I wish the interface was a bit more transparent, like del.icio.us's. For example I have no idea how I can point all of you to my shared feeds. But it's still well worth the effort.

Read more