Interview with Paul Petrunia, Founder of Archinect
Paul Petrunia, Founder of Archinect.com, tells us about his site and why he thinks the internet may be the beginning of the end...
What’s the USP of your website?
Archinect's goal has always been to connect the architecture community. When we started Archinect there were no other resources or destinations for architects to come together from around the world to discuss issues of architecture and design. I wanted to create a global community of individuals similar to the community I discovered in architecture school.
How long has Archinect been going?
I launched Archinect in July of 1997, so it's now a little over 12 years old.
How many people does it employ?
Currently 4 full-time employees, with a number of contract employees, partners, and editors/contributors.
Where are you based?
Los Angeles, California. Usually.
How often is it updated?
Since many parts of the site are community-driven, every few seconds.
How does the web format suit what you cover and the way you cover it?
It suits us perfectly. Archinect was created in response to the emerging web medium of the mid-nineties. It has always taken advantage of user interaction, discussion forums, reader feedback, public submissions, and cross-linking. The next version of Archinect will adopt more current web technologies to help better "connect" our community.
Have you always worked online?
As a professional, yes. I began Archinect while studying architecture at SCI-Arc. I started my web consultancy, Extra Medium, Inc., immediately upon graduating at the age of 23.
How have people in your industry’s attitudes changed towards the internet since you’ve been working in it?
The web has matured so much in the last few years. People expect a lot more these days. The kind of stuff that wowed everybody at the turn of the century doesn't get much attention these days. The question is quite difficult since almost everything has changed since the time I started working in the internet industry.
What other websites do you check regularly?
archidose.blogspot.com for smart architectural commentary. bldgblog.blogspot.com to stay inspired. Designobserver.com, Bustler.net (an Archinect venture site), Wallpaper.com, DesignerPages.com, Google, and many many others...
What do you think is the best thing about the internet?
Instant communication sharing
What’s the worst thing about the internet?
We have too much information at our fingertips, and it's addictive. Lately the internet has become saturated with websites that are all reporting the same information in the same way. It's becoming harder to find original ideas with the volume of content online.
Do you think it’s a mistake that the vast majority of the internet is free?
No, not at all. It's inevitable that industries will be forced to financially benefit more from the web, but there needs to be a good reason for people to pay online. The great thing about so much content being offered for free is that publishers and producers will need to offer higher quality to remain financially sound, which will greatly benefit consumers.
How do you think the web will develop in the future?
It will become incorporated into all of our everyday devices, as it's quickly becoming integrated with our cell phones.
There's a belief that the speed of the web and glut of information we have available at our fingertips is fundamentally changing the way humans learn and disseminate knowledge and we’re all turning into short term transmitters – we don’t learn or remember anything for any length of time anymore. Do you agree with this?
I think it's true for some people, maybe the majority of people, but for others it's providing a very powerful tool in assisting work and research, which may lead to quicker technological advancements. While the internet will bring about many amazing developments, I'm quite sure it's also a major player in the eventual destruction of the human race too. We've been racing to the end for quite a while, and I think the internet has been a shot of nitrous oxide, helping us reach our destination that much sooner.
People blame the internet for our obsession with news and newness – is the best website the one that delivers something first?
No, it's not the best, but it's the most popular. Hence the gradual demise of traditional media. I think people will soon tire of newness, however, and will want to revert to thoughtfulness.
If the internet didn’t exist, what would you be doing instead?
Professionally, I would surely be involved in the architecture industry. The internet sidetracked me to such a degree that I'm not sure which direction I would have gone without the web. My children would probably be older, and I would probably be in better physical condition.