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Environmental economy?

Have a perspective! Citing Noam Chomsky:

“MIT colleague who, when asked by his students what they were going to cover in their courses, replied that it didn't matter what they covered, but rather what they discovered.

That's the way education should work!

Students, he replies, are not given enough encouragement to challenge the basic assumptions of their professors and the pre-established framework of their subject.

Universities are always in a tension. At best, they are trying to maintain intellectual integrity.

Yet they cannot escape the reality that they are parasitic on external power mainly in the form of government and private corporations. These outside pressures are obviously going to undermine intellectual integrity and so it's a constant battle.”


Environmental pops immediately the reference to ecological issues like global warming; ozone depletion; CO2 emission; soil erosion; water pollution; health hazard and impacts on humans, crops and herds..

So what is then the meaning of environmental economy?

It means managing resources so that economic activities take into account, and are planned, with one objective: having less devastating impact on our habitat, our home, Earth.

Included and perhaps even more challenging, is how to manage human resources in a responsible, fair and profitable way.

It is a well known fact, that many companies have records of shabby guidelines, policies and indifference towards the well-being of those working for them.

The conditions in some areas are so dire and almost unimaginable! A known reference are slave shops who have been finger pointed many times in the past!

Mind you, not eradicated .. just moved to more quiet locations.

“What is the difference between a slave shop whereas you pedal home to your bowl of rice or drive your BWM to eat sushi?”

None! It's all a matter of context.

Why such practices? Because of our communal need to insure our survival: pay the bills, cloth and feed ourselves (and our family).


Research indicates that in the past 15 years, there has been a steady increase of hours worked weekly (average 45 hours/week and this average is much higher for 'creative' labor 50 hours/week are not uncommon).


“You have a job, consider yourself lucky!”


Research indicates that the divide between the very rich and all others - (10% vs 90%) - is growing at a worrying rate.

It seems that human resources are quite disposable.

Often times hanging over our heads the threat that “we can easily be replaced”.


Many others seemingly await to replace us.


Research indicates that essentials goods continue to escalate in prices and proportionately diminish in quality, making the turn around cycle shorter and shorter.

Ever wondered why when buying an electronic products you get a mere 1 year guarantee from the manufacturer?

Does it mean it may or not last through just one year of usage?

How can it be possible that is cheaper to buy a new printer than having it repaired?

Part of the reply, is that to churn higher profits the easiest way is to buy cheaper (less reliable) parts. These profits are for shareholders and rarely redistributed to labor.

This is how the great divide between the very rich and all others is escalating.

So although human resources are the absolute core of the economic wheel, it has been made hard to question, negotiate, or contest, if unhappy.

That's the deal. Take it, or leave it.

Anything that takes away or diminish our human dignity should be a cause for concern.

Environmental economy has to do with safeguarding human resources.


Which brings me to this question: how are 'creative' resources doing lately?

Recently reviewed a job posting site. The listing consisted mainly of 2 categories.

First conclusion, anyone working with technology, programming and backend is safe and sound.

Clients do see the value and fees are reasonable.

But when I checked the 'creative' side all is definitely not well.

In fact, all is quite wrong!

I was shocked to see that 'design' contracts had extravagant expectations (multiple / cross media sub-requirements were often 'part' of the same project) and the budgets were staggeringly low.

In fact, some were dirt cheap deals that made me angry.

One I recall read like this:

“We are looking for a logo design, some graphic work and a site redesign - budget 600$US. We are a Manhattan based company.” (?!?!)

I was so outraged that I contacted the firm to tell them how unprofessional and unethical they were.

The mail bounced back! It was a hoax.

I then wondered how many more 'hoaxes' there were? I mean not that, if contacted, mail would bounced back, but how many contracts seeking to be fulfilled had high 'creative' expectations on ridicule budgets?

Gosh - try to make such an offer to get an e_commerce solution? A CMS or data based catalogue!!!


So why is it that 'creative' work is so little considered?

Current myth of affairs: 'Clients fear being cheated and delivered less quality than what they are paying for.'

Why so?

Well it seems everybody is in business to profit but 'creative' shops are in for what???

For the love of design, man!!! (bis)

This is an enduring prejudicial view. You know the old 'art' over 'logic' syndrome. Since the gifts we have are intangible, well the level of confidence in these, is equivalent to the trust most companies have for 'consultants'.

We are perceived has rippers.


Why are we perceived as not 'trustworthy'?

Granted there were lots of abuse in the golden era of the dotcoms but most excesses had less to do with 'design / creative' output than technology based grand scams of getting rich quick.

There is a long enduring perception that 'thinking' which is a big slice of any creative project is NOT as worthy ($$$) an activity. Many have shared how increasingly hard it is to keep up with expectations. Any given day, their ideas are brutally assaulted for the sake of 'constructive criticism'. Often, they are ridiculed and pushed and pushed until they 'do' what they are told, instead of presenting what is 'best'. As if, what we have trained for was not intended for commercial purposes.

In this trade, it seems that clients, bosses, account managers and broom sweepers, all know how to better design and communicate creatively!

The ratio of conflicting brief interpretation and direction would make anyone insane. Too often - sorting it mostly by trial and error. As if ideas can be rendered as on assembly line production whereas pressing the button (presenting the brief), presto, you've got a mock-up!

Oops I meant, you've got 'the' right mock-up on the first attempt! There is this constant and subtle pressure to avoid spending too much time 'thinking' about it. As if thinking fast is a gear we can shift in.

Perhaps that explains why so many half baked campaigns and sites are still launched today.

Wonder if lawyers, researchers, engineers, architects, plumbers are pushed to think faster in order to cost less?


What is creative work (latitude) valued at? Why is creative latitude so important? Or better asked, what is the 'price' of creative latitude?

Well it seems - not much! Do we obtain the latitude we need if the price is right? Does it boil down to low / minimal budgets (how many times have I heard they really-really like the idea but don't have the budget)? Or forsaking our profitability (aren't we in business too)?

What is the price to pay to be free to be creative? Free to do what you are good at without constant (negative) interference or having someone (or a whole team as that) breathing down your neck while your trying to do your job?

Why is 'creative' work devalued?

Would educating about our trade both peers and clients help?

Mini-survey results: About your job?

a- What is the highlight?
b- What is missing?

All that have replied were happy with their jobs. What was missing was mostly interaction with other designers and clearer direction.

Indicative? Those unhappy... did not reply!


The Pricing Wormhole by Kevin Potts.

“As the market of available designers continues to inflate, many desperate professionals begin to work for pennies on the dollar. They're shorting themselves, and they're eroding the industry.”

-> next: The 5 mental faculties


Editorials by Carole Guevin


Essays — ethics — business of design — brain bytes — digital creative culture.

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