If I asked you to tell me your favorite 3 words, do you know what they would be, or would this be a “I’ll get back you you” situation? I certainly don’t have three favorite words – who does? The irony of this is that I am the one who came up with this theme for the latest installment of “ArchiTalks” – a writing exercise where several architects are given a topic/ title and they all write on that topic on the same day. It is an interesting exercise given the loose parameters that are established and provides a perspective on a certain topic from many different architects. The value is that while I like to think the sun rises and sets on my opinion, let’s be honest … that’s not always the case. The ArchiTalks series allows people who are interested in learning about what it’s like to work with or be an architect hear from a variety of sources, experiences, geographic locations, etc.
So I’m going to give my three words in the form of a question:
Are blogs important?
The vast majority of people with computers and internet access (86%) don’t actually write a blog. Of course, this number could be directly linked to how many basements there are from which bloggers do their work AND how many bloggers still live with their parents regardless of whether or not there is a basement in which to do their blogging. Even though I don’t know the actual number (I am going to say it’s more than 20, give or take), I am going to say that the vast majority of people with computers and internet access don’t even read blogs. I haven’t done any “official” research but I’m feeling pretty safe with that statement.
What do you think? Are blogs important? Does anybody care? Is anybody there?? (I could keep going with these 3 word questions but you probably get my point).
I really hate the word “blog” … it’s so 2009. Supposedly, nobody “blogs” anymore except foreign exchange students and me. I’m reading that the format of blogs like mine – reverse chronological order posts (newest on top), single column stream of unique URL posts, with the sidebar of other interesting and/or trending posts – are dead – or at least they’re supposed to be dead by now.
Since I’m pretty deep in this blog-hole, I’m not sure how I feel about that.
Part of the challenges associated with the question “Are blogs important?” is simple – if you are reading this particular post, your are already here, you are the converted, you might even have a blog yourself … and your opinion probably isn’t going to be objective (although I still want to hear it – come have some more Kool-Aid with me and we can discuss it). Truth be told, this is a topic I took a stab at almost 5 years ago (which was apparently the “Golden Years of Blogging”) in a post cleverly titled ‘Are Blogs Important?‘ and guess what?
Nobody read that post.
Well, that’s not really true, but it’s close. On the day that article was published, I had 3,071 page views – of which – only 228 were of that article. In the 1,703 days since then, that article has had a whopping grand total of 2,351 page views. Those aren’t ‘WOW’ numbers, so like I said, nobody read that post. In contrast, the article “Dating an Architect” received 17,913 page views on the day it was published.
I have endeavored for years now to maintain this site and there are more days than not when I don’t really want to continue – but I feel like I have to keep going. There aren’t enough people talking about architecture and what architects do in a way that anybody other than another architect (probably a lonely one at that) would want to actually read. All the articles I write exist for some reason – sometimes they’re educational, sometimes they’re anecdotal, sometimes they’re funny – and when I’m really lucky, they’re all three.
I do think blogs are important (and for the record, I don’t considering tweeting or posting to Facebook blogging) and even if the format is getting a bit stale, the role of the blog is still important. I don’t want this blog to function as an online diary of my life, everything exposed and made available to the world, but I do expect my blog to be personal, first-person narratives that aren’t heavily editorialized (my built-in excuse for poor grammar) about my experience as an architect. Based on the connections I’ve made, the correspondence I’ve received, I’d say there is a demand out there that my supply is not able to meet.
That fact alone tells me that blogs are important … at least, good blogs are important.
Blogs are unique in the sense that they inject individuality and can make a company seem more personal. Putting a face to the source of information projects the image of an individual that cares, rather than a corporation who is pushing a product. The ability to connect with the reader, insert personality, and earn the trust of your readers is the main reason to maintain a blog. I originally started my blog as a process to simply learn how to do it, but I have continued to operate my blog because I have found it surprisingly rewarding. When I talk about a business connecting with the client, I am speaking from first hand knowledge. People visit this blog and ask me questions, they send me emails, and they share information with me. This communication is two way and that has provided real value to me. It is the ability to communicate with the reader that makes blogs valuable in a way traditional media isn’t.
Not all blogs are created equal – all you have to do is read a few and that fact will become abundantly clear. It is fairly typical that architects will use the narrative process when they begin the design process on a project. When I sit down at my desk to start designing, particularly when I am working on a residential project, I take everything I know about the people I am working for and I develop narratives to help guide me through a forecasted pattern of their behavior so that I can design a house that suits their needs, as opposed to one that suits MY needs. As a result of developing these narratives, most designers become skilled storytellers. We develop these narratives as a mechanism to educate someone on our thought process. Since a lot of what architects do is esoteric, being able to articulate my reasons for solving a problem in a particular way – without being condescending – is an important skill. I need to walk people through my design process in a way that they can understand the end result in a more appreciative manner – it works way better than telling someone:
“I’m the professional here, just do what I’m telling you to do.”
[Career tip: Don’t do that.]
Since I posit that architects are skilled storytellers as a result of doing their jobs, you would think that there would be no shortage of interesting and accessible architectural blogs available for everyone to read – ones that people who aren’t architects want to read. So where are they?
Are blogs important?
This was the ninth post in a series of posts called “ArchiTalks”. If you would like to see how other architects responded to the topic of “3 Favorite Words”, just follow the links below. Hopefully you’ll find another architectural blog you think is worth reading.
Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC – @L2DesignLLC
#ArchiTalks: I love it!
Andrew Hawkins, AIA – Hawkins Architecture, Inc. – @hawkinsarch
Three Favorite Architectural Words
Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design – @modarchitect
I Am Listening
Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect – @mghottel
architalk#9: my three favorite words
Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC – @MeghanaIRA
My Three Favorite Words
Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL – @sramos_BAC
My Three Favorite Words
Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect – @LeeCalisti
i make art
Eric Wittman – @rico_w
my three favorite [hardest] words
Marica McKeel – Studio MM – @ArchitectMM
Never Give Up
Michael Riscica – Young Architect – @YoungArchitxPDX
How’s it going… Finishing The Architect Exam?!??
Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture – @FiELD9arch
Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet – @Jeff_Echols
What’s Your Story – My Three (or Four) Favorite Words
Amy Kalar – ArchiMom – @AmyKalar
My Three Favorite Words (Architalks #9)
Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect – @bpaletz
I am in
Cindy Black – Rick & Cindy Black Architects
Spirit of Optimism (my three favorite words)