Blogger Interview 8: Greg J. Smith (Serial Consign)

This Summer we present a series of short interviews here on Pop-Up City. We invited a number of our favorite bloggers to answer six questions not only about their passion for blogging, but also their city, work experience and inspiration. The result is a collection of stories on blogs and the people behind them. Number 8 in this series is a short interview with Greg J. Smith, the man behind Serial Consign. Serial Consign is a blog devoted to digital culture and information design, and a must-read for people interested in the growing impact of modern technology on our cities and lifestyles.

When and why did you start blogging?
“I’m one of those cliched bloggers who started writing online as a sidebar to their graduate school research. In my case it was my M.Arch. thesis project on how a major American daily newspaper might re-imagine its headquarters as a dynamic public space. This work was executed in 2006 and by the spring of 2007 I was writing online quite regularly — as that project wound down my site became a forum for writing about other fields that I was interested in which included information visualization, the geoweb and media art. When I started writing online it was very much about documenting my thinking and that intent is still what drives me. More recently, I’ve been using my site as more of a personal notepad and a switchboard to link to more in-depth articles that I’ve written elsewhere on the web.”

How would you label yourself?
“When I started blogging I often described my interests as ‘design/research’ as this felt a little more liberating than the ‘design thinking’ neologism that has been tossed around within strategic innovation circles in recent years. I’m in the midst of applying for some travel grants, and according to the Canada Council for the Arts my interests qualify me as an ‘independent media arts critic’. While this feels a little closer to home than ‘blogger’ or ‘journalist’, I’ve learned to ignore labels as most of my peers don’t really have a binding job description and have expertise/interests that are all over the map.”

What does your typical day look like?
Mission Specialist at the moment. I’m currently designing/refining some courses on technology and urbanism and data visualization for the upcoming academic year. I try to spend a few hours a day reading online news, books and scanning chatter on Twitter. I’m not too concerned with day-to-day blogging right now and have instead been focusing on taking more time to craft short essays and articles, I’m also laying the foundation for a forthcoming digital arts magazine with my friend and co-conspirator Alexander Scholz.”

Which spot(s) would you recommend to a first-time visitor of your city?
“I think landmarks are overrated and I generally prefer idiosyncratic tracts of the city. That said, I’d heartily recommend my stomping grounds, the Junction Triangle, to anyone visiting Toronto — it is a lively, unpretentious part of the city with great bars, restaurants and a burgeoning entrepreneurial community.”

What is your top 3 of favorite online sources of inspiration?
“Twitter has changed my engagement with the internet more than any other social network or platform. I enjoy the manner in which you can skim it for content and it utterly killed social bookmarking for me — most of my idle exploration of the net is diving into links culled from Twitter.

I’m not very diligent with keeping track of everything published on the blogs I follow but there are a few exceptions. Filip Visnjic does a pretty incredible job with CreativeApplications and the site is comprehensive in documenting the media art and creative coding scenes — I’m really thrilled to be publishing my Mediated Cityscapes series there. Secondly, I’ve always been a huge fan of Mitchell Whitelaw’s writing at The Teeming Void as I find he’s tremendously successful at making heady conversations about generative aesthetics and materiality both accessible and engaging.”

What shoes do you wear?
“I have always been a minimalist when it comes to footwear and I rock a pair of Blundstone boots year round. A friend recently pointed out they were a bit severe for summer, but I gotta be me.”