On Wednesday May 27th of last year I was in my one bedroom apartment in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. It was about 11 am, so of course, as any writer would be, I was in my pajamas. I paced nervously though, back and forth from my bedroom to my living room, with a list of questions on a Microsoft Word document enlarged to a 200% zoom and propped up on my bed, so I could easily and casually glance at it and be reminded of what to ask my interviewee, who was set to call me from his office in Paris in a few minutes.
This person was Renzo piano, the architect of the Shard in London, The New York Times building in midtown Manhattan, and most recently the Whitney Museum of American Art in the Meatpacking District, amongst many other culturally important structures. In 2006, Time magazine selected him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and also as the tenth most important in the Arts and Entertainment category. His contributions to contemporary architecture and urbanism, perhaps most notably the revolutionary Centre Pompidou in Paris, have established him as an artist whose work will impact people’s lives for centuries.
Piano was calling me after I had been writing about architecture for less than a month. I had no idea what I was talking about, and here I was about to talk to a legend and pioneer in the field. I only prayed I wouldn't be put on the spot to know something. If I did, that would've been the precise moment where I would've taken back all the bad things I ever said about Google. Google, at that point, was the only thing that could save me.
But Piano didn’t quiz me. He was a lovely and warm guy, and we had an engaging conversation about art, literature, film, and of course, architecture (which come to think of it, I learned, is all those things). He talked about his artistic philosophy, his belief in civic and urban life, about how his building—The Whitney—flies.
After I published the interview in the blog of The Value of Architecture—my amazing and intelligent client who entrusted in me the artistic freedom to do what I want—I shared the piece with ArchDaily, one of the more well-known architecture magazines on the Internet. To my surprise, they picked it up, which means that after a month of being an architectural blogger (at that point I thought I had earned the title “journalist”) I was in one of architecture’s premier magazines. I took this as a sign that things were going well.
The year passed, and I was taking on more freelance blogging clients (some amazing, some not, but that's life), and seeing very clearly that I was passionate about writing engaging, thoughtful articles, and not ad copy. I took many freelance jobs, and started learning about the business of content marketing, something I had been doing for years. I just didn't realize it.
As 2016 began I decided to make a change. A full-time job fell through, and I started teaching another semester at the university. I love teaching, but I also love writing, creating, and learning, so I searched for a way to do both. One day, the words "Social Construct" just popped into my head, and I started designed the web pages on paper, and writing about the company’s ethos in the bodies of drafted emails.
I want content on the Internet to be more relevant than click bait, the top ten lists of reasons to move to XYZ city, and how to's that don't teach you anything useful. I believe intelligent audiences demand more than sensationalist articles and media simply designed to make you look; this approach is designed for short-term, frenetic interest, and not for establishing deeper, long-term relationships. Maybe that works for certain brands, but artistic audiences who are sincerely interested in a subject for specific reasons want more.
Social Construct believes that good writing, good thinking, and smart living win out in the long run. It may not win the battle against sex, drugs, and violence right this second, but it will win the long game. I don't think believing in this is sentimental. I think that's being a smart and steady business person who seeks longevity.