On blogs

In my opinion, the best thing about blogs is that they give people who otherwise wouldn’t have much of a voice a microphone. That’s also my least favorite thing about blogs.

The thing is, many people think they have something real to say, yet only a small fraction of them seem to actually follow through. The internet is full of some of the world’s most pointless blogs — thoughts from people whose thoughts no one in his or her right mind would want to know about. But it also has given rise to some excellent ones, both about architecture and in a much wider sense.

Read on past the break to see my collection of favorite blogs.

So without further ado, here are some of the architecture blogs that I recommend:

Mid-Century Mundane is dedicated to everyday mid-century modern architecture, the sort that is widely disliked and wholly underappreciated. This blog succeeds largely on the soundness and tightness of its premise, which it sticks to carefully and effectively.

A Daily Dose of Architecture is fun to read, if not terribly in-depth. It provides great eye candy, and its regular publishing schedule makes it easy to follow (perhaps I could take a lesson from that).

Cityscapes, the blog of the Chicago Tribune’s architecture critic Blair Kamin, is another excellent read. It focuses on Chicago, but to great effect. Kamin’s analysis is unusually thoughtful.

And some general ones:

FiveThirtyEight, “Nate Silver’s political calculus” as proprietor The New York Times calls it, is an excellent political blog. Silver doesn’t really take sides; instead he’s devoted his blog to carefully analyzing the math of politics. He’s an incredibly accurate predictor of elections, as well as other trends, and his posts are always a treat to read.

– I also recommend pretty much all of The Times’s other blogs, like The Caucus and The Lede.

Bloody Shrubbery, a blog run by a good friend of mine (I mentioned it before in my post about Hurricane Irene) is a bit of an oddball in my collection of favorite blogs. It defies that key rule of blogs that says that good blogs have specific focuses. Instead, my friend uses this one to cover his thoughts on pretty much anything. In most cases that might not work, but in this one it works out exceptionally well, as the level of thought and analysis in the posts are always kept to an impressively high standard.

– The Los Angeles Times’s general Culture Monster blog is another one worth checking out. It focuses on the paper’s hometown, but its motley collection of different sorts of articles from a wide variety of different writers at the paper make it always full of surprises and good fun to read.

And now to what makes a blog that I don’t like.

I won’t go out of my way here to point out all the blogs that I dislike; rather, I’ll use a couple of examples to point out what can bring down a blog.

– Wrongheaded-ness: yeah, like stupidity. I’m talking about neo-conservative blogs, both politically and architecturally. Like the Preservation Institute blog.

– Poor focus. Most of the time, I don’t care about the minutiae of the lives of others. Why should the internet be subject to your personal diary? I mean, come on. The weirdly voyeuristic nature of these blogs is only a perverse cover for the fact that they’re damn boring and damn pathetic.

– Poor analysis and/or writing. I don’t read (blogs, newspapers or anything else) just for facts. I read for effective analysis and good writing. I want to be made to think. As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of ArchDaily, perhaps the world’s largest architecture blog. Its poor writing and lack of analysis simply don’t provoke thought or ideas. The one redeeming area of the blog is its AD Classics section, which makes for a fun read (if you can overlook some truly cringe-worthy sentences).

There’s also another type of blog that falls into this category: political cheerleading blogs. It’s interesting to read Paul Krugman, Thomas L. Friedman, Nicholas D. Kristof and the other New York Times op-ed columnists because they really bring new perspective and legitimate arguments to the table, week after week, year after year. That is less true for blogs like ThinkProgress, which feels more dedicated to liberals egotistically patting themselves on the backs than to provoking real thought. Even though I agree with almost everything on that site, I don’t find myself really provoked to think by it.

So there you have it. My views on blogs.

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