Elite Blogger: Rendezvous With Kurt Kohlstedt

Ask any blogger running an established blog the number of posts he features during a day, supporting hands behind it, editors on job and you may not be wrong anticipating an overt two-digit response. But there is always an exception, which in this case is well exemplified by WebUrbanist. One post a day, five authors, one lead editor is the master plan behind the success of WebUrbanist.

Kurt Kohlstedt, Founder & Lead Editor, WebUrbanist stands firm on their policy of featuring one-article-per-day, identifying the want of quality over quantity. Besides this jumbo post, Kurt keeps himself engaged working on spinoffs and ways to tie together various articles and plugging in more valuable features following the rule of thumb: “Interesting, extreme, random, funny, obscure and otherwise sensational content.”

After a long oration, I propose you to read further to know more about Kurt and his Urbanist Den.

Introduce yourself to my readers and take us through your urban flow of day at work.
My name is Kurt Kohlstedt and I am the primary founder and leader editor of WebUrbanist, a weird and (hopefully) wonderful weblog about everything urban (culture, design, architecture art, travel and more) and some things that aren”t.

I used to be the primary author for the site but as it has grown we have brought a number of new writers on board and with them a healthy diversity of styles and subjects. I usually start my day as most people probably do: by checking my email. Back when it used to crash regularly, however, my first task was always to make sure the site wasn”t down.

We have a strict one-article-per-day policy having to do with quality over quantity so I generally go over the article of the day one last time and publish it sometime during the day, moderate comments and come up with new and (hopefully) brilliant ideas for future posts, spinoffs or ways to tie together various articles or entirely new functions and features for the site. I try to answer site emails regularly but I often get behind (sorry readers!) particularly when I”m traveling. I spend much of my day working on other odds and ends including helping on other sites and working on other projects.

When did you sense an inclination towards blogging? When was WebUrbanist introduced to blogosphere?
I started dabbling with blogging early in 2007 when a friend put WordPress up on a random domain I purchased for no particular purpose. Once I started to get actual traffic and readership I tested out various kinds of content to find a balance of what I enjoyed writing about and what people enjoyed reading about. With that in mind I together with few interested friends started WebUrbanist in the middle of 2007. It became clear fairly quickly that I was the most interested in the project so for many months I was the primary author on the site.

Why your blog reflects only the urban side of design, culture, travel, architecture and alternative art and not lifestyle, inventions or technology?
There are actually three answers:
(1) There actually are some elements of lifestyle and technology on the site, they just aren”t the primary focus per say.
(2) You can only cover so much. Even with the topics already covered the site is fairly broadly niched compared to many other major weblogs. This is both a plus and a minus it means there are always new ideas but it also lacks some focus.
(3) My own background is in architecture and design and I personally love to travel so in some respects the choice to focus on those reflects my own interests and knowledge.

What is number of posts you deliver on daily basis and are you the sole contributor or you have the support of more hands?
We used to produce only two to three long and thorough articles per week. More recently we have moved to publishing approximately one post per day with some exceptions. We are moving toward a more regular schedule right now where we will have ongoing series running on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and feature articles running on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. Currently there are five authors who contribute to the site. We are looking to put up a bio page to tell more about our authors in the near future.

What according to you is an ideal form of art?
I used to think that architecture was the highest form of art the blending of art and science to create beautiful and useful things. In some ways I still do see it that way but perhaps in a broader sense or on a larger scale. Now I might say something like cities as a whole are the most brilliant art form. They are collectively produced expressions of our needs, desires and wills. Every one is unique and reflects the character of those who inhabit and build it.

The post “Urban Abandonments: 7 Deserted Wonders of the (Post)Modern World” is really interesting. I am curious what led to the development of such a well-woven and meaty piece?
Ah I see you dug down deep into the archives and found the original 7 Wonders article. That was simply a strange spark of inspiration. I have always been fascinated by abandonments and wanted some weighty title to convey the magnitude and impressiveness of such structures and ancient and modern wonders of the world came to mind. That article was the genesis of what has become without a doubt the most popular series of all time on WebUrbanist. Subsequent articles covered abandoned wonders of particular parts of the world as well as other non-abandoned wonders of the world. Still, it comes back to that first article it was one of the first on WebUrbanist to become truly popular all around the Internet.

At weburbanist, we are fed with a timely dose of 7-wonders across diverse categories. What do you count as 7-wonders of weburbanist?

I have a real fondness for the country-and-continent-specific articles from the seven wonders series (the United States, the former Soviet Union and Europe) as well as articles dealing with design and alternative art in general from amazing tree houses and strange transforming furniture to strange street graffiti and mysterious graffiti artists:

10 Amazing Tree Houses from Around the World: Sustainable, Unique and Creative Designs

7 More Abandoned Wonders of the World: Amazing American Abandonments

7 Abandoned Wonders of the Former Soviet Union: Deserted Cities, Buildings, Bases and More

7 Abandoned Wonders of the European Union: From Deserted Castles to Retrofuturistic Factories

10 (More) Pieces of Clever Transforming Furniture: From Tetris Tables to Rooms in a Box

3 Amazing 3D Graffiti Artists: Street Painting and Sidewalk Chalk Art

The Banksy Paradox: 7 Sides of the World”s Most Infamous Street Artist

Tell us about your ”must-read” or favorite blogs?

DarkRoastedBlend, Neatorama and MentalFloss are certainly toward the top of that list. Not only is the content on each amazing but the people writing for and/or running each are awesome as well. DarkRoastedBlend never ceases to amaze me. I am exceedingly jealous of Avi”s uncanny ability to find tons of sources and images related to the most obscure and strange subjects. Neatorama provides an excellent blend of original content and updates about unusual content found elsewhere on the web. MentalFloss as a really interesting hodgepodge of interesting facts, funny lists and all kinds of other stuff. Each site has also been critical to helping WebUrbanist become the successful site it is today. LifeIntheFastLane.ca and Deputy-Dog are also favorites and also run by awesome individuals with a real passion for blogging strange stuff. I could go on but the list would never end.

Provide us with your three favorite posts you have written to date.
A few of them are already listed above (they would be 7 Wonders articles). However, there is one not listed that I would very much like to single out. This article was not very successful and I have remained somewhat disappointed that it didn”t enjoy broader circulation. I think it is perhaps something that is more of a personal favorite and something I perhaps shouldn”t have expected people without geekish obsessions with obscure abandonments to appreciate: Creatively converted sea forts of great britain strange adaptive reuse of military architecture.

What remains your criterion for selection of post to be played at your blog?
It should fit in at least two or three of the general categories listed on the sidebar and has to fit some basic image/text rhythms we have set up for the site. As a rule of thumb we shoot for interesting, extreme, random, funny, obscure and otherwise sensational content. We aim to entertain above anything else but also to inform along the way.

Avi of DarkRoastedBlend: Have you ever been a graffiti artist?
Hah, amazingly no the graffiti aspect of the site was inspired by someone else who worked on WebUrbanist early on though I have since become quite interested and written a lot on the subject. I have however done a fair bit of urban exploration (just don”t tell the authorities).

Do you think green homes are the wave of future in home building, considering the fact that a green home usually has much higher material and construction costs than a standard home? Don”t you think green home will be out of reach for many of us?
I believe green design really is the future. Right now, particularly in the United States, people have become accustomed to absolutely horrific building quality. Many people buy buildings that, over time, will cost them far more in repairs and energy costs than a building properly built up front would cost. Also, as the environment becomes an increasingly front-page issue the costs of going green will go down and in all likelihood buildings will have to meet higher standards across the board, which, in turn, will also make builders more aware of ways to go green more easily. In short: I absolutely believe green homes will become more affordable and even if they cost more up front that cost will be offset down the line.

Is there is any running blog with a similar niche or you enjoy the monopoly of the game?
I don”t think there are any other sites out there with the same strange blend as WebUrbanist. The favorite sites I listed above are all similar-but-different. I think this might be in part because of my own background again I love strange and interesting stuff of all kinds but I am also trained as an architect and urban designer, which focus my bizarre fascinations in that direction.

How would you like to be known as:
a) Urbanist b)Blogger c) Writer d) Graffiti Artist
I absolutely love the fact that WebUrbanist ranks 1 on Google searches for the term ”urbanist” which is itself not a real word. If ”urbanist” were a title like ”architect” the site might be misleading as it stands, though, I like to think that WebUrbanist is part of the definition now of an entirely manufactured term. In addition to that my passion is cities and that is also included in my imaginary definition of ”urbanist.”

Quick bites:
a) Biggest blogging mistake you did: Not finding better hosting sooner
b) One hidden truth: There is no such thing as an urbanist
c) If asked to post only on one blog (besides WEBURBANIST), which one would that be? Very interesting question. I really like ReadWriteWeb for providing intelligent content for web geeks and wouldn”t mind adding my thoughts to that sometime.
d) Advice you would have given yourself five years ago? Be patient and don”t expect to succeed quickly know what you are getting yourself into.
e) If not a blogger then. An architect
f) Life without Internet: Probably a lot less stressful
g) You take inspiration from? Little tidbits I find online and the city that surrounds me
h) One thing you dislike about weburbanist: It loads too damned slowly anyone wants to sponsor us for a dedicated server?

If asked to give three tips to a novice blogger, what would that be?
Know what you want up front: fame, fortune or satisfaction
Reach out to other people who are successful they are usually nice folks
Don”t expect your first blog to be the one you end up writing on a year from now

Whom would you recommend as my next EliteBlogger and Why?
Deborah Peterson and of LifeInTheFastLane.ca would be a great choice she has so much enthusiasm for what she does and that is the essence of what it takes to succeed. She is also a genuinely awesome person as well as being similarly fascinated with the strangest of things.

Give us your views on EliteChoice.
You ask a great blend of questions this is probably more information, for example, than people can find about WebUrbanist than people can find pretty much anywhere else on the web.

Your turn! I am ready to answer a question for you.
What is the funniest or strangest answer you have ever gotten in an interview?

Well, there are many. But one such commonality is well-expressed in my routine question: If not a blogger thenI am surprised to see the ”other” side of their personality they wish to don.

And here I thank Kurt for his kind participation and doing the needful. Wish you luck Kurt for your future endeavors.

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