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Note: This blog is no longer active - please visit my new site at HAT Projects where you will find our new blog!

Thursday, February 15, 2007
Blogging building
I started this blog, as a side project, nearly a year ago because I felt there was no accessible online resource for news and discussion around the built environment; policy, planning, regeneration, economics, environmentalism, all the stuff that isn't about the aesthetics and design. What there was, was hidden behind subscriber-only firewalls, and still largely is. The trade press hasn't embraced open-source, it is fair to say. I felt that architects and others who don't want to pay for, or trawl through, a stack of journals each week should have somewhere online that brought that stuff to them.

It's nice to see recently that a few more toes have been dipped into the world of blogging. By far the most interesting effort has come from Phil Clark, former deputy editor of Building Magazine (which now has a good set of RSS feeds and a blog section) and now digital community editor at the Builder Group, which owns Building among others. He's writing exclusively about sustainability in the building industry, and it's good stuff from a pro journalist.

New Start magazine has also started a new blog (which I hope will develop to become more bloglike and less weekly article-like) and I am flattered that I've been featured already as one of their 'pick of the week' external blogs. I've already mentioned the London 2012 official blog, and I'm sure most of you know about David Miliband's blog.

If there is one piece of criticism I might offer to the likes of Building and the other journals starting to explore the wild world of blogging, it is that weekly comment-like articles do not make a blog. As Phil Clark demonstrates so well, a blog should be regular, opinionated, with short as well as long pieces, personal and informal. The format works well as a sounding board for ideas, not an alternative to the editorial column. Some others of my regular reading, like David Wilcox's blog, demonstrate this well and new bloggers would do well to read his excellent A-Z of social media.

I have to admit that I don't always stick to this, either, as I simply report news a lot of the time, but this experiment is evolving all the time. I'm genuinely glad to see an increasing number of people start sites that I can add to my blogroll and who I can gladly link to as they aren't subscriber-only (a policy of this blog is not to link to anything that isn't open-access.) The development and building industry is still way behind the times on how to use social media and the web, however, which is a shame; as something that directly affects, annoys and often inflames the opinions of the general public, I would have thought that developing a more open, outward-facing attitude would really help.


Anonymous David Wilcox said...

Hana - thanks for the kind mention, and congratulations on pioneering blogging in this field. As someone who has been a planning journalist, regeneration consultant and social media enthusiast, I'm particularly keen to encourage more joining up of those fields. Maybe someone would host a get-together of current and potential bloggers to generate some enthusiasm, cross blogging, recruiting and so on. If so, I would be glad to help.

11:31 am  
Anonymous Ben Jones said...

I really enjoy reading the blog. The piece on the housing star system was particularly good - my comment to that effect seems to have gone amiss.

Keep it up!

2:04 pm  
Anonymous mel starrs said...

I can count on one hand the number of UK blogs in the developing/construction/building/green/sustainability realm - you, Phil, me and Mark Brinkley (who writes about self-build, so is a little removed). But back when I started in April there was just you and Mark, so we've doubled in a year!

2:41 pm  
Blogger HL said...

Yup, we'll be in double figures soon. And Mel, sorry I missed you off my updated blogroll...will correct! But more seriously - why don't more people in the development industry read and write more online? I have my theories - but it would be great to hear yours. Feel a post coming on about this soon...

3:19 pm  
Anonymous AB said...

I have been reading this blog for several months now and have referred colleagues to it. I've found it a really useful source of information.

I would like to write something from a client's point of view but can think of anything that wouldn't get me sacked or sued.

Keep up the good work.

5:07 pm  
Blogger HL said...

Thanks AB! it's great to know that its been useful to you as a client. You should definitely share your experiences - anonymity and changing all names can go a long way. Please feel to email me on hana at hanaloftus.co.uk if you ever want to do a guest post here to try it out!

5:40 pm  
Blogger pclark said...

I'm suitably flattered to have received praise for my efforts (yours is pretty good as well, by the way).
Two reasons spring to mind for the lack of construction/design/development bloggers:
1) Not to be rude but how much of the potential audience out there even know what a blog is? There may be a hardcore of people fully web savvy but for the vast majority? I'm not so sure.
2) The nature of the audience: AB points out how wary many professionals would be to stick their necks out and voice an opinion. Who can blame them, given how litigious the industry still is. The sector is by nature conservative so blogging would not be on their radars.

6:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Hana,

Thanks for the mention. When we embarked upon the blogging page, we hoped that as well as featuring posts written by our readers and ourselves we could provide links to other blogs on regeneration issues.

We are starting to build up a number of regular sites we check for good posts, but it has been a challenge.

As Mel mentioned there’s not much out there. One of the problems is, if you put the search term “regeneration”, you get stuff on stem cell research, Dr Who and Christian Evangelism! You have to trawl through all that, before you find a nugget.

Another issue when linking to blogs on community issues is you really have to separate bloggers with some authority, from online rants by people with dubious political views. We are, however, starting to get a body of decent blogs to chose from now.

It would be great if more community activists and professions start blogging – I even started my own personal blog last week, but so far have only put a test post. Needless to say, I am not posting a link to it just yet!

Rosie Niven, New Start

5:04 pm  
Blogger Adam said...

The editor of Contract Journal is blogging:

CJ Blog

On the construction side, admittedly, but a start.

5:36 pm  

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