There are times when a phenomenon, rather than a person or organisation, merits a mention for the influence it exerts on design and related creative media. One such phenomenon is blogging, the vogue for running Internet diaries that encourage comment and criticism from anyone who happens by.
You might think it would be a threat to design – and, indeed, journalism. But that hasn’t proved to be the case, and blogs set up by designers and design magazines such as Creative Review have promoted dialogue where it might previously not have existed.
The first design blog to set the standard was arguably Design Observer (www.designobserver.com). Brainchild of New York-based Pentagram partner Michael Beirut and edited by him with William Drenttel and Julia Helfand, it combines critique and intelligent comment on issues to do with design and culture.
Others have followed, not least www.dezeen.com, the on-line magazine set up by Marcus Fairs, which was recently redesigned by Micha Weidmann. And then there are blogs within websites, such as Michael Johnson’s Thought for the Week on the Johnson Banks site.
Whatever the form a blog takes, as a medium it is unstoppable – if time-consuming. At its best, it offers a valuable and well-regulated platform for debate. At its worst, it is purely self-seeking, but then visitors have the power to vote with their mice, making poor versions of the medium short-lived.