To the amusement of Architecture Australia’s (much younger) assistant editor I seem to have got hooked on twitter. We have established a twitter feed for the magazine and it is proving to be an interesting, engrossing and sometimes distracting thing.
Twitter divides people – for all those who enthusiastically embrace it as an exciting way to build communities (or maybe just procrastinate), as many express scepticism about the apparent narcissism of it all. Who cares what you had for lunch? Or, as Ben Hewett’s one and only post puts it, “somewhat unconvinced – seems like micro facebook … and do I really want an sms every time anthony makes a sandwich?” Of course it is partly in the delivery. For those skilled at the pithy one-liner the 140-character tweet is a dream medium – I have a colleague who can entertain by merely telling the twitterverse that it’s lunchtime. Sadly, my skills don’t lie in that direction. (Thus far I have managed to resist posting not-very-funny accounts of how adorable/monstrous my children are, or boasting about cooking extravaganzas.) But twitter is a great vehicle for getting news and information out there fast – the Architecture Australia twitter feed is like Radar Headlines in real time. It is an effective way of letting readers/followers know immediately about news, events, competitions and other happenings of architectural interest. So I would encourage twitter sceptics as well as twitter fans to check us out at www.twitter.com/ArchitectureAU.
Twitter is also appealingly casual and as we overcome our twitter self-consciousness we may introduce more tweets that give a little insight into the behind-the-scenes life of the magazine. And the information flow works both ways – like blogs, twitter gives us fairly direct access to snatches of architectural conversation that, in times past, we would have only heard had we been at the right dinner party.
Of course the medium does not dictate content, but different formats and platforms do enable different kinds of content, and affect approaches to content. Twitter extends the magazine in a fast, newsy way. Another recent initiative extends the magazine in a more discursive manner, exploring the potential of active discussion to generate interesting content.
The AA Roundtable is a series of robust public events. The idea is that bringing smart, articulate architects/commentators together for chaired public discussions will result in the exposition of ideas and analysis that might be different from what would be said and thought in prepared presentations or essays. Edited transcripts of these discussions will then appear in the magazine, thereby making that discussion available to the full Architecture Australia readership.
The first AA Roundtable – Stories of the Downturn: Embodied Knowledge and Future Possibilities – will be held on 21 July. Nigel Bertram, Hamish Lyon, Elizabeth Watson-Brown and others will join me to explore how we might negotiate these uncertain economic times, what knowledge is held within the profession and how we might access it, and what it might all mean for how we understand architecture. Part of the State of Design Festival, it is hosted by the University of Melbourne.
Justine Clark, editor, Architecture Australia.