Adbusters' Design Manifesto 2000
May 9, 2000 10:01 AM   Subscribe

Adbusters' Design Manifesto 2000 is an interesting read. In accordance with what many people believe, and the result of corporations going too far, the question becomes, do we need something like this for web creators? A Pledge to pursue personal interests and experiments on the web, instead of just your daily e-company work? Would you sign such a thing?
posted by mathowie (12 comments total)
I think that anyone who wants to use their e-skills for the "many cultural interventions, social marketing campaigns, books, magazines, exhibitions, educational tools, television programs, films, charitable causes and other information design projects urgently require our expertise and help" should sign the Adbuster's manifesto.

As far as a pledge to pursue personal projects on the web, I think that the people that are going to do it are already doing it. Those who have it in them to create are creating.

If you wanted to go along the same lines as the Adbuster manifesto, you'd have to have a pledge that asks people to create sites that are interesting, engaging, personal, community builders, zero-shop-talk, etc.

And yes, I'd sign such a thing.
posted by Calebos at 10:45 AM on May 9, 2000

I was just thinking about this line from the manifesto:

"charitable causes and other information design projects urgently require our expertise and help"

and thought "why do I get pissed off about state propositions and do nothing besides vote against them, and why do I get pissed about social injustices and do nothing about it?"

Then it occurred to me - I can build websites, why not make a site when I feel strongly about an issue?

And that's what I'll be doing.
posted by mathowie at 10:53 AM on May 9, 2000

(I wish that I could read the list of people who have signed the manifesto: they seem to have hard-coded fint sizes. am I irrational to feel that a call to arms of this type should be *accessible* as well? I guess it is irrational, but it reduces their credibility with me for some reason.)

Of course I'm all over the sentiments expressed in that manifesto. as for signing it...I don't know.

I'm committed to doing my weblog, and I often focus on some of the same issues they mention in the manifesto. I think all of those things are important. I also know people who have projects they want to do on the web, and who simply don't have the time at the moment.

and I guess I'm not too clear on what action this manifesto is really calling for. using one's powers for good? I'm all for it. rejecting the language of commercial advertising? I don't see that happening any time soon. (although, as a strong advocate of media literacy, I'm all for giving people the tools to decipher the messages of the media.)

I don't know. help me out here. what is this a call of action *for*?

posted by rebeccablood at 11:56 AM on May 9, 2000

Too many big words. Stuff like that, I search for key phrases like "soul to Satan" and "firstborn child".

They should make a "For Dummies®" version.

Aw crap. I'm gonna be sued for that last line.
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 12:07 PM on May 9, 2000

Perhaps I'm just too cynical. Please be patient with me.

> do we need something like this for web creators?

Something like what? A document where we pledge to be productive citizens instead of mindless drones? Do these designers really think there is something novel here? I hope not! Help me out - do a significant number of designers really believe that "manufacturing demand for things" is their role in life? I think not. It's a job and everyone knows that.

If you aren't "using one's powers for good" (I love that) then will a pledge to be better really change anything?

> A Pledge to pursue personal interests and experiments on the web,
> instead of just your daily e-company work?

I don't think this is the point of the campaign. I think they are sort of saying, "We've been tricked into being drones. We must do something interesting!" I like to think that the crowd here is more sophisticated than that.

A pledge to do something worthwhile with my life just sounds so pathetic.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:31 PM on May 9, 2000

mathowie wrote:
>>Then it occurred to me - I can build websites, why not make a site when I feel strongly about an issue? <<

I think an important point to be made here is that developing such a site would have a great value for the individual, even if no one else saw it.

The idea is not for people to use their e-skills to become experts at manupulating public opinion, but rather to use their skills to explore news means of self-expression, if only for their own betterment.

At least that's how I see it.
posted by Calebos at 12:40 PM on May 9, 2000

I read the Adbusters design manifesto as being more like "I will make every effort to avoid doing work for companies whose policies I believe are damaging. Instead I will seek out clients who are environmentally responsible, good corporate citizens, etc."

Scenario: say your employer gets hired tomorrow by Mattel, and you're assigned to the Mattel project. Would you refuse to do it because you believe Mattel is in the wrong on the case of Matt L.? Or would you rationalize and hem and haw and take their money? If you followed the design manifesto, you would refuse to do business with Mattel as a consumer OR as a 'vendor'. And if enough designers took the manifesto to heart, then Mattel would run into significant obstacles when they try to hire outside vendors and/or in-house designers, until it became unprofitable to be a domain-grabby bully and they had to back down. Apply it on a wider scope and you can see what Adbusters is idealistically hoping to accomplish.
posted by wiremommy at 12:43 PM on May 9, 2000

P.S. Something I've always wished existed (&/or wanted to put together but didn't know where to start): A directory of companies who ARE good corporate citizens, environmentally responsible, or independent from large corporations. Like I'd rather pay a quarter more for "Farmhouse" brand rice than "Kraft" brand rice if I know "Farmhouse" is a small, responsible company while "Kraft" is owned by Phillip Morris (Big Nasty Tobacoo Co.)
posted by wiremommy at 12:48 PM on May 9, 2000

wiremommy: I'd love to see a website like that. there are currently pages that list people who have pledged not to test on animals and the like, but a database that complied all the information out there from discrete causes and allowed the user to select for the criteria that was important to them, would be a great service...and a *huge* project.

even if you could compile all the information, it would be a full-time job to even keep it updated (since these pledges need to be renewed year after year).

posted by rebeccablood at 12:56 PM on May 9, 2000

Although I can't think of such a list, designed for corporatations in general, off the top of my head, I highly recommend that everyone persuse the Columbia Journalism Review's list of who owns what. People who write media criticism (Adbusters included) aren't kidding when they talk about concentration of media power.

Now, if I could discover whether Scripps, Gannett, or the Tribune conglomorate was a responsible corporate citizen, that would be a wonderful addition.
posted by snarkout at 1:31 PM on May 9, 2000

fyi, there was a great analysis of the original 1964 design manifesto that this new one at adbusters is based on in a recent issue of ID magazine. unfortunately, ID isn't online, so no url for ya...
posted by msippey at 2:08 PM on May 9, 2000

Jouke Kleerebezem has his thoughts and much of the debate around the 1964 manifesto as well as the FTF2000 manifesto at IDIE. Both manifestos themselves are on this page.
posted by judith at 4:41 PM on May 9, 2000

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