Who worked on what and how can we tell?
What to do?
I was contacted by a very good recruiting friend, who asked for my opinion on a designer who worked on Nokia viNe with me. The problem, I couldn’t place them, I hadn’t heard the name, I searched through my files, nothing. I had to honestly say I couldn’t offer a recommendation, as the designer in question most likely had a tangentially relevant relationship to the project.
It inspired me to do a google search, ‘Nokia viNe’, there were many interesting posts, lovely that there’s passion for the project, maybe a qualifier. I put in ‘Branding’, the part of the project I had direct oversight of. I expected to see, maybe James Temple who masterminded the project and the user experience, or Justin McMurray the supremely eloquent strategist, who as far as I remember came up with viNe as a thought. Nope
Maybe another qualifier, ‘Cannes Gold Lion’ which viNe won for the innovative Brand Identity, which I know was created by one of two people,. Virgilio Santos who curated every pixel, or Nathalie Huni, who painstakingly converted each brand thought into the behavior of the UI.
No. My query results contained little of the above, but what it did contain was many good and talented people who had ‘Cannes Gold Lion’ in their awards section without citing Virgilio or Nathalie. Talent, who had the visual boards that Virgilio created during an all night session at the Mountbatten Hotel in their portfolio.
In reality good and talented people were using the fact that the project received accolades to their advantage, without citation, or a hat tip to the larger group of people who actually did the work.
Now, this is either a problem with awards - there are many problems with awards- because they lack specificity, using ambiguous roles, ambiguous submission categories. Or it’s a darker more malevolent problem with our citation model.
I truly believe, that if we are to say we worked on a project, we must be clear what we did, clear what we contributed. Were we pivotal? Were we enthusiastic. We rewe part of the team? or, were we just there, around when it happened?
And if we are to cite, then we need to be clear about the citation of the others, show links to their work, say how the inspiration of others provided fuel for our own creativity. Just take a look on the back of any album cover, and see the band, the members, the engineers, the producer, even the shouts or thanks to the people who inspired without being there.
I grew up, following liner notes, and choosing musicians to follow, growing my width of taste, learning about unsung talent from the generosity of the creative citation. I don’t think this is a new problem, but we have the models, the platforms and the technology to make it go away forever.