Digital Dogmatism

Unlike scientific dogmatism, digital dogmatism accounts for skepticism and criticism in formulating knowledge differently. Thomas Kuhn’s prioritization of the stability of scientific progress against all forms of doubts is no longer valid under the digital technocratic regime. The displacement of the architect’s identity from being a historian or a humanitarian to being a scientist or a technocrat has brought about unprecedented economies of affirmation. The migration from the mechanical matrix of publishing to the notational matrix of construction drawings has eventually paved the way for the algorithmic model of (BIM) and digital networking. Social media, for instance, has universally become a quantifiable tool of affirmation whose content is legitimated by its virality range. As a result, a virtual dogmatic model has emerged that conforms to a set of algorithms embedded in graphic icons of engagement.

Virtual Legitimation

The normative systems that were primarily borrowed from the “Royal Society” of scientists (union of eyes and hands) in guarding a specific dogma are now being derived from the virtual community. However, the legitimacy of digital dogmatists is contingent on our perception of their epistemological construct; whether it is referred to as belief or as knowledge like what Thomas Hobbes had prescribed. Some philosophers denounce this stance by believing that dogmatism is merely an assortment of norms but not beliefs. Similarly, these norms govern the transmission and dissemination of knowledge across digital platforms. Moreover, Thomas Kuhn’s rejection of undisciplined doubts arises from his fear that excessive criticism would hinder scientific progress. Thus, he guarded knowledge by advocating social dogmatism, which also exists in the digital realm but in a virtual form. The architect’s digital persona is correspondingly molded and enchanted based on its relevancy to specific communitarian formalities and adherence to inherited conventions.

Robert Boyle’s ambition to expand the perimeters of his laboratory was to encompass the public sphere in knowledge formulation; this stems from his desire to remodel his experimental ventures into a social enterprise where witnesses could engage in the validation of knowledge production. Likewise, it is difficult for a digital dogmatist to advocate an exclusive state of radical individualism, where one discards the disciplined communal authorization of the published work. The verification of digitally curated designs is now virtually attained through public gratification. Nonetheless, digital dogmatism constitutes a non-institutionalized multiplicity of anonymous witnesses whose reliability remains questionable.

In accordance with that, I define digital social dogmatism as the virtual assurance of sampled work granted by “avatar witnesses” in the form of commentary praise, and compliments. Additionally, the digital dogma in its broader sense had become an autonomous vehicle for the formulation and the transaction of knowledge and aesthetics. One can draw parallels between social media as an agency of validation and Boylean literary technology. Boyle’s concept of “virtual witnessing” can be extended to digital dogmatism with all its organic and paid promotions designed to yield the largest possible number of appreciators. Nevertheless, the soaring inclination to seek self-approval on digital interfaces had caused a rift between the essence and appearance of an architectural property. This rift has concealed the aesthetics of the demonstrated virtual object with a metaphysical aura.


The paradigm shift induced by the emergence of digital technologies has altered the constitution of architectural knowledge. Unlike Brunelleschi whose authorship of a building was conditioned by its physical realization under his supervision, digital dogmatism has intentionally violated this rule. The transition from Brunelleschi’s autographicBrunelleschi defends his autographic model by stating “this is why I’m not unveiling my project to you; if I did, you would build it without me.” (Carpo, Mario. “The Rise.” In The Alphabet and the Algorithm, 75. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press., 2011.)authorship to the allographic one cultivated unorthodox modes of design. The universality of the allographic language has dissolved the boundary between the design and its execution. Alberti’s authorial method speculated on a standardized notational system, which is comprised of visualization and notation. These two functions operate as the fundamental verification sources of any project. In like manner, digital social platforms feature visualization through images or videos and notation in the form of descriptive captions.

The validity of design today hinges on the constitutive algorithms that either generate computational designs (parametric/generative software) or circulate them on virtual platforms (social networks). The dispensing with physicality in the post-artisanal era subverted the formal means of authenticity in architecture. Digitized agencies of design have undermined the solitary intellectual ownership of a project. On the contrary, digital design interfaces have facilitated collaborative interventions but with no distinct authorial recognition. Digital technologies have unquestionably redefined architectural authorship by converting it from the identicality of mechanical standardization to the variability of digital reproduction.

Flattened Datascape

The democratization of disciplinary critique on social media had casualized architectural discourse to a great extent. In that respect, architecture has become mostly an aesthetic phenomenon that rests on the witness’s interpretation. Design became a digitally-generated artifact that is more metaphoric and fictional than it is factual. Consequently, certainty in that context is attained from biased cultural consensus and not necessarily from empirically verifiable sources. The controversy here lies in the fact that digital dogmatism regards the vastness of polarized virtual crowds as a sign of a prominent reputation and credibility. Online participants are the only authorized agents who legitimate the author’s work, regardless of their expertise or relevance to the displayed subject. The instantaneousness of such media has facilitated the process of authentication, yet, it is conditioned upon the trustworthiness of the content creator. In like manner, Boyle exploited his literary technique of witness multiplication by disclosing his experimental failures as a gesture of honesty and objectivity.

Digital dogmatism has flattened the hierarchical community of affirmation by loosening the buffer of resistance set by mentors against possible criticism. Students’ involvement in the digital sphere has been a disruptive phenomenon to institutional power. Social networking has offered an alternative digitized scheme of affirmation that relies on virtual identity formation. Consequently, the traditional identification of architectural schools has partially been compromised by the heightened gravity of digital media. The radicalization of knowledge production and circulation has destabilized the predominant authority of the institution by opening the way for alternative pedagogical models such as that of autodidacticism and E-Learning. Unfortunately, the flatness of the digital dogma has further traumatized the processes of argumentation and evaluation in architectural pedagogy. It aggravated the alienation of the physical body from its authorship by compromising the embodied presence of all actors in a jury setting. Accordingly, digital dogmatism might threaten the preservation of essential pedagogical devices such as pin-ups and syllabi by phasing out the legalistic format of the architectural critique.