Matt writes about starting with the default template and changing it as you notice the hordes of other bloggers using exactly the same template. A common enough experience, I imagine. But then he cites Manovich:

Lev Manovich makes the interesting argument that because digital objects always operate within a finite (however vast) set of parameters, that a truly radical gesture of originality is to simply retain the default settings.

Now Manovich isn’t writing about weblogs, but… Nah. He’s wrong. It is incredibly unoriginal to keep the default settings. 50% of bloggers keep the default, and that’s OK, but it’s hardly original. Manovich is just being clever, right?

Matt takes this into the fascinating-sounding territory of whether there may in fact be problems with the separation of form and content that’s so sacred in the separation between CSS and HTML, and in other markup languages. My head won’t quite get round that though, it just sounds interesting, but my thoughts are too exhausted from all the student theses and essays I’m reading and assessing. This is hard work!

4 thoughts on “default

  1. joh

    50% of bloggers keep the default, and that’s OK, but it’s hardly original. Manovich is just being clever, right?

    50% of bloggers keep the default template. But probably less than 1% of that 50% chose to (in terms of capability to design their own and awareness that they opting for the (overused) norm). That is original to a certain extent.

    The problem is, presumably, that it is difficult to distinguish such people from bloggers who don’t know any better…

    Or at least, the above could be read that way.

  2. Jill

    Oh dear. So to be REALLY clever, you have to keep the default, but let everyone know that you’re not keeping the default because you don’t know how to change it but because you’re being really subversive and refusing to go along with the pressure to be individual?

  3. joh

    That’s the one! Silly, isn’t it?

    Of course, if you wanted to be really, really original, you could deliberately alter your stylesheet so that it looks like you are learning css and have done something really silly by mistake… Now that would be different. Such a person could say “I am being an individual by not following the pressure to be individual, or keep the default. I am instead rebelling against the pressure to use valid code while also rebelling against the pressure to rebel.” Or something.

    It takes more effort than it is worth to be original these days!

  4. Lisa

    It’s funny that you should bring this up today.

    I made my own style sheet/design because I can’t use something like MT with my host and because of the other things I do on my site that really need to have some sort of brand or identity. But mostly, to be honest, because I could and because it was fun.

    I’ve been posting about an unexpected payoff from this, which is that I’ve moved all of my novels into little mini-sites of their own and am working on them in the same manner that I write my weblog. This runs counter to everything I’ve known up until now (content first, THEN form), but for some reason its working.

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