How are you getting by without Speak Up?

Are you just barely managing it?

Or did you even notice it closed?

Armin Vit’s design-crit blog – isn’t that the problem right there? – pulled a Karen Kain and announced last April it would self-shitcan. (“This is our third-to-last post”!) Weren’t you devastated by the news? What were you going to do without the daily insights of Armin Vit, who used Speak Up as lever with which to wedge himself into the New York design demimonde? (It worked: Michael Bierut hired him. For a while.)

I read encomiums to the deathly overserious, ill-coded critics’ blog on innumerable other overserious, ill-coded crit blogs. Kottke picked it up, so you know it’s important. Stars lined up to write overweening, logrolling eulogies. Design podcasts – not always an oxymoron; RbTL is quite good – ran interviews over dropout-laden Skype connections.

But Vit’s design insights keep comin’. Speak Up was but one of several Armin Vit blogs covering the world of design (official Vit pronunciation: [ˌdɛˈsaɪn]); for designers ([ˌdɛˈsaɪnəɹs]). Just the other day Vit scored big with a 271-word post (including headline) decrying the Bing logotype. (“Designed” by? Who else – Microsoft.) All the kool kidz picked that one up and ran with it.

We haven’t heard the last of Armin Vit! For that was never the plan. The plan was to nurse the closure of his superannuated design-crit blog so as to maximize attention on his remaining design-crit blogs. (And raise a child. I do sympathize with cutting back and getting the hell out of New York.)

There will be a point at which people stop pretending to read design-crit blog posts longer than 271 words. Sort of like people pretending to read Rick Poynor, or 79 entirely unillustrated essays about design. At that point, people will begin to recognize that design criticism, as a great-grandchild of art criticism and poststructuralism, has been a corpse floating in the Ganges for half a decade.

Design blogs will, however, continue to faithfully serve their subsidiary purpose – securing book contracts and, when such are desirable or necessary for cashflow, day jobs. (If Bierut quit Pentagram tomorrow, he’d be snowed under with job offers from the four corners of the earth. People know him not from his design work but from his blogging.) The path Vit once trod Surtees now follows, for example, all the way down to tag soup. (Though Michael is way nicer to look at.)

I know this system works because I did something like it myself. The difference is nothing I wrote was linkbait or some kind of Trojan horse. I wrote what I wanted to write and people came to me anyway. Design critics write to get noticed. What they haven’t noticed is that their long crits, the Poynor-compliant thinkpieces, aren’t being read, because nobody really wants to read actual design criticism. Design can’t carry that kind of weight in the first place. It’s functional, not artistic.

In other news, Vit et al.’s Women of Design is on its way to me from the library. I flipped through it at Swipe and it looks fantastic. Further, I have always been a fan of Sheila Levrant de Bretteville.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2009.06.16 12:44. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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