Wednesday, December 7th, 2005

Blah, blah, blog

Blah, blah, blog
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I still approach the notion of a blog with some degree of trepidation. It’s not that I’m uncomfortable with the notion of blogs, it’s just that I view them somewhat critically. Another self-publishing tool is always a welcome addition to the landscape; nevertheless, I have to ponder whether the blog will serve as the written sibling of desktop publishing.The latter has simultaneously proved to democratize communication, and bastardize design. In my mind, and perhaps in those of some others, the desktop publisher has often made the world a more unsightly place.

Blogger = Desktop Publisher?

Is the blog doing the same thing? Are serious writers now forced to justify their craft to each budding blogger who cares little for the beauty in words, while believing an editor to be an outdated hindrance to communication? This has most certainly happened in design, and it seems that after nearly twenty years things have hardly changed. The number of those who call themselves “designers” is highly disproportionate to those with a true command of their vocation. Many supposed educational facilities offer whiz-bang courses in the use of technology, while altogether ignoring the fundamentals required to create effective (none to mention meaningful) work in this profession.

Does ownership of a tool imply knowledge of practice? I certainly hope not. You never know when they start making home surgery kits. “Hey kids–come downstairs! We’re going to perform a colonoscopy on Dad!”

On the other hand, perhaps all of this is mute. For all of the poor design out there, desktop publishing has afforded many the ability to utilize methods of communication which previously may have been out of reach. While one’s command of typography may be weak, an ability to change one’s address on a resume without white-out clearly outweighs any damage done to the beauty of the printed piece.

While the democratizing nature of these advances can’t be overshadowed, those of us who love language (written or visual) may simply be flustered by the growing pains we are privy to, as we experience the first time the general public is openly encouraged, motivated, and free to create their own content and publish at will.

A medium for the people

Making things has for years been locked in a struggle with elitism. For all of the efforts made by a number of artists to bring their work to the masses, they simply lacked the power inherent in advances such as the printing press, desktop publishing, and likely the blog. These technologies rip through the ceiling of exclusivity imposed by the wealthy, and often the educated, which has served to reinforce an unmerited class-based superiority.

We all gain by bringing art, and the ability to make it, to all people. Art benefits by being leveled for the enjoyment of the masses. A greater number of creators affords more exploration, and this results in more ideas. In the long-run, we arrive at a more colourful and largely literate population. And with this larger pool of creators, we begin to see the appreciation of craft grow. As my friend Hans so often notes, words as common today as “font” were largely unrecognizable to the greater population scarcely twenty years ago.

Although they may be from humble beginnings, democratized publishing will lead us to more, better work, while self-populating an audience to appreciate all of the great stuff to come.

But that’s not really the point here. Those meanderings simply identify my (mixed) misgivings about this medium, and worries as to whether it is appropriate for me to dip my toes in.

Our reasons

Since starting smashLAB, we have often discussed the possibility of creating a forum for chatting about topics of interest to us. As a result, we have “comped” some online magazines, created a few small publications, and generally messed about in search of a venue that would allow us to accomplish what we’ve imagined.

It should have been a no-brainer to use a blog to facilitate this; however, it wasn’t until a chat two weeks ago with the fellows at Industrial Brand Creative, regarding the success of their blog, that I managed to connect the dots. They were clearly floored by the response they had received through their blog. Both Mark and Ben encouraged me to consider the medium again.

And here we are… ideasonideas. At its best, it affords us an opportunity to present ideas and open them up to discussion amongst friends. ideasonideas is intended to focus on communication design and brand strategy. We are specifically interested in the process involved in good creative, and what inspires us.

From time to time, we will noodle-on about some of the things we have been doing at smashLAB; that said, we’re rather disinterested in making this a diary-like site. I can’t imagine you caring about what I did on the weekend, and I would hate to subject anyone to that topic unnecessarily. All of the discussion here is to be with purpose, and I highly encourage you to argue strongly with the content found here and contribute. Let’s share some ideas and dialogue.

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