Social Media, Collaboration, and Three Types of Designers
I’ve been thinking about some stuff…
The term “social media” is hilarious to me. Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Twitter — none of these dumpster fire websites are social, they are simply one way streets of self promotion, or at least that’s what they are now. Social is supposed to be a friendly community. Social is supposed to be individuals. Social is supposed to be about sharing something with each other. Social is about collaborating.
I think social media has killed community, killed the sharing of ideas and for sure destroyed how people collaborate now. Collaboration used to be about getting people together who have different backgrounds and skills together (especially in the workplace) to share ideas and solve problems together. But social media has created a one way street of self promotion that altered what people think collaboration should be.
Collaboration is not about making sure everyone in the group has a say, it’s not about whether everyone in the group likes the solutions or ideas and it’s damn sure not about everyone in the group gaining ownership. Collaborating is about a group of people willingly and proactively getting together to express their ideas, to submit their point of view, to confront conflict civil and to generally move the conversation forward. But, on the age of self promotion some thinks collaborating means gaining buy-in and swaying those who don’t agree with you.
Being social isn’t about posting the link to your latest medium posts as much as collaborating isn’t about proving who’s right.
Artists, Practitioners and Propagandists
I’ve only been in the design profession for a mere ten years but in my weird brain I see three basic types of design philosophies. Not boxes of thinking and behavior, but more like a spectrum, from artist to propagandist, where everyone is somewhere along the line, and probably at switching at different points in their careers.
An artist in this thought experiment is someone really concerns with perfection and the study of design itself. Artists projects are rendered as either experimental or conceptual generally. These individuals believe design IS art and should be a highly skilled, honed craft that is most cases takes years of not decades of time to perfect only to never be perfected. An artist is concerned with the critique of the design and where her design will be lumped in with the anthology of design artifacts — they weigh the quality of their work with their peers, not the viewer.
A practitioner is someone who’s main focus is producing design and deliverables regularly. Their core concern is creating the best possible solution to a problem that they are given. Practitioners projects are generally some form of consumable deliverable; billboard, digital add, t-shirt, website, mobile app, TV graphic, movie poster. The designers that you see all around our world are mostly created by a practitioner somewhere. The practitioner is more concerned with the viewer or consumer of their work and doesn’t rely on the critique of their peers to determine its quality — if it’s solves the problem, it did it’s job. This is where I would stack the majority of designers in any profession.
The propagandist is someone who shares and spreads information collected or learned from the artist and practitioner to the rest of the community or world. The propagandist is concerned with making money from this information or trying to promote certain undead in the community that will generate revenue. Their deliverables are articles, books, talks, podcasts, tweets, medium articles or any other form of content that promotes their borrowed ideas. Generally, the propagandist is not a designer the same way an artist is skilled in the study of design or how a practitioner has honed their skills through practice and repetition. They are individuals who either; did not have the chops to become an artist or practitioner, were a true designer but found a niche to promote, or are just critics of the design world. The propagandist is not concerned with neither a peer reviewed work or a consumer deliverable, they are concerned with spreading ideas for a price of some kind.
The interaction of these three personas is very interesting to me. I’ve been all three at some point in time and have worked with all three in my career. I feel I’ve started to settle toward the center of the spectrum, maybe leaning more toward propagandist but with a pretty sure foot in the practitioner realm.
IDK, just thinking about some stuff.