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42

While a building can usually take care of itself, the culture of architecture needs a conversation. In theory the digital age is paradisiacal for conversations: everybody has access to a variety of media to articulate an opinion. This has certainly many upsides. Architecture’s discourse is, at least in theory, more inclusive than ever before. Anyone with an internet connection and a keyboard can partake. But there is a paradoxical downside, which is that because of its low threshold there are so many participants that almost no voice is really heard, let alone leading the conversation. So here is the problem: More voices than ever before, but less of the structured type of conversation that helps to form public opinions. If there is a global conversation, it is really all over the place, without a clear centre of gravity, which is why so much pass unnoted.
That is the likely fate of this piece as well: that it will be like one of those philosophical trees which fall when nobody is present in the forest to hear them falling.
Despite three billion people connected to the internet, it is harder to reach anyone than in the good old days of broadcasting media like newspapers, magazines, radio and television. Aside from a handful outliers that generate a lot of web traffic, the internet has undermined the reach and has given rise to a multiplication of extreme forms of narrowcasting, which do not add much to the public opinion. It might be public, but it has no public. There are nowadays a great many parochial discussions briefly reverberating among a small group of likeminded people but the echo usually doesn’t last long. And with the algorithms geared to guide you to more of the same, the probability of encountering anything else than what you have already encountered is becoming smaller and smaller. Changing your mind, even getting new insights is increasingly difficult. Narrowcasting can lead to narrow-mindedness.