Friday, March 23, 2012

Ties That Bind

Interesting article by Rachael Levy on Slate about issues of ethnic and religious identity in France. The basic gist is that ethnic identity is supposed to subsume French identity, which is pretty different from the American idea that you can be a [something]-American. Therefore, French identity, which was created prior to the emergence of a French multi-ethnic society, is essentially code for "ethnic and religious majority French." Minorities are expected to assimilate or they are aggressively "othered" and contextualized as non-French. Most famously, the question as to weather Dreyfuss could have truly been both French and Jewish was answered in the negative in the early 20th century.

That is basically a permutation on the issue of French identity for Muslims in recent years, but the Toulouse shootings brought the Jewish angle to the fore. I am constantly confronted with striking similarities in the way modern Muslims as compared to frequent historical (and sadly, sometimes current current) instances of anti-Semitism.

It's a reminder that as Muslims and Jews, our differences often blind us to our broad and important similarities.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

My neighborhood brew-pub, Dock Street, is asking local graphic designers to enter a competition to design their newest t-shirt. After they receive the designs, staff and facebook group members will vote for a winner. The winning designer receives some limited edition beer, four t-shirts and exposure to any potential clients who may be paying attention to the voting. Oh, and what the Dock Street site calls "bragging rights."

I have a better idea - stop pretending that you are doing somebody a favor by printing their design on your t-shirt and stop pretending that a handful of beers and a t-shirt are worth anything at cost and just PAY A WORTHY DESIGNER TO CREATE A T-SHIRT DESIGN. It's really transparent to suggest that you are doing anybody a favor - you are Dock Street, a small neighborhood business. The scale of your business does not allow for your crowd-sourcing to reach so many people that the winner of the contest is sure to get tangible free marketing from this.

If you want to be a good neighbor, how about you ask if there are any graphic designers from West Philly (there are tons), and you stimulate your local economy with something that they can spend wherever t-shirts and limited edition beers are not accepted as currency.

You will also get a much better product, because when you pay somebody to design something for you, you can tell them exactly what you want and then they make it to your specifications. But if there's anything we know about business in the 21st Century, it's that everybody wants everything for free.

Crowdsourcing, the act of outsourcing a task to some general and broad population, seems like a slick, 21st century way to do business. Seems like some folks think they can get some kind of cool points for just dropping words they heard Kai Ryssdal use. The only way around this model, in this case, is to tell any graphic designers you know that they ought to keep a little self respect and spend the time they could have spent on Dock Street out there finding clients who pay for good work.

For posterity, since the contest information is on the Dock Street "events" page and there is no permanent post with a URL with the contest rules, here's a screengrab, which contains the awesome line "just for fun and to get your name out there!"