Every significant change comes about because of massive disruption. While there's been a growing interest in good design as a part of good living in this country, the big, disruptive change that has powered a lot of the growth of this interest (as well as a lot of other things) has been the advent of blogging.
An incredibly cheap way to broadcast words and images to an immense audience, blogging has allowed a new generation of voices to be heard and allowed them to experiment with tone of voice, viewpoint and authenticity without the drag and restraint of corporate infrastructure and editing. In other words, you can say what you want to and the final arbiter of whether or not you're worth listening to is the audience itself - no one else.
And, should you think that it's easier to write for the rabble than a few highly trained editors, believe me when I tell you that web audiences are smart, quick and super tough editors. You will get shut down fast if you are full of shit.
In addition, and this is what corporations have been terribly slow to realize, blogging is NOT just about pushing your viewpoint, or putting content OUT. The web is all about community and sharing knowledge. Publishing on the web is no different and is at its best when it's a two way street. What comes back from the audience is just as important (if not more so) than what you publish. The OUT is just as important as the IN.
From very early on in the creation of our blog, my brother and I realized that eventually I would run out of good tips and smart things to say, and that what was going to become infinitely more interesting were the contributions of other voices, particularly of the community. My (and eventually OUR) job wasn't to maintain star status or be the know-it-alls of the design community, instead, my job was to be the world's best host to a conversation that could be bigger than all of us.
That's exactly what happened.
From one person, ME, sitting alone in an empty office in Tribeca in 2004 pushing out a few posts a day to a couple hundred people a month, we now have a full time staff of eighteen people spread out around the country, 175 freelancers all over the world and publish over 150 posts a day, seven days a week. These posts are coming from awesome readers that we've hired to be on our staff (we only hire readers) along with great content from our current audience, which now measures over eight million monthly readers. Of these, most of them come from the following countries: US, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, Brazil, Spain, France and Italy.
While our staff at times seems large to me now, it's tiny compared to most major magazines, and our costs are similarly small compared with running a magazine with monthly print runs.
Our circulation, however, in real terms is bigger than all of the major shelter magazines put together and just as big on the web as a brand like MarthaStewart.com, who combines all of her magazines, television and radio offerings together under one URL.
And we're free.
Oh, did I say we're free?
Like I said earlier, it's more about sharing, than traditional publishing.
While we spend a good deal of time thinking about what to write and researching, an equal amount of time is spent reading comments, responding to reader emails and constantly combing through and harvesting the pulse of the community in order to share it on the front page with all the readers.
So, when you look at OUR front page you are looking at YOURSELF and YOUR friends and how you all live NOW, which, I think, is the most inspiring and interesting thing in the world.