Globalization Aktuell: “Puzzlin’ Evidence”

Geographic changes come to town, the world is new again.


Above: From the City Pages Magazine, Minneapolis, MN Dec 12, 2007

Mad Men, by Paul Demko
Last Friday afternoon, current and former Star Tribune employees held a wake at Matty B’s bar in downtown Minneapolis. The occasion: the final day of employment for the newspaper’s seven remaining ad designers. “Another day of infamy,” stated a flyer announcing the gathering.

The design work is being outsourced to a company in India. More than two dozen such jobs have been phased out in recent months.

This personnel decision was made shortly after the Strib’s ad designers voted to unionize. A complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that the personnel move was punitive and violated federal labor laws, was rejected.

Some see the hand of the Strib’s former publisher in the outsourcing maneuver. Said one union leader: “This entire thing absolutely reeks of Par Ridder.”

Commentary: This is not an alarmists post, this is evidence of a truly global shift (even if at a very small scale). I find this exciting proof that even creative positions are migrating to new markets and professionals. One might be tempted to become a bit defensive (nationalistic) in these times, but the alternative is to embrace the incredible potential of a new generation of designers and visual artists that will develop a truly global vernacular. The image here, though surely intended humorously, is suspect in its ignorance. Where I sympathize with the local designers affected by this (and suspicious of corporate human resources strategies), why shouldn’t ambitious young and ambitious Indian designers seek to expand their horizons/impose their ideas? Our mutual traditions can only benefit from such new energy and direction.

There are massively important ethical and pedagogical considerations here. Will the new economy provide equal treatment for designers everywhere (i.e. the kind of “rights” or standards we try to preserve through ethics in practice, collaborative organizations in our own regions). How and what to teach young designers, no matter where they are? How will they compete, how will educators collaborate? I feel these are exciting times and the challenges are attractive.

Embrace the idea economy to transcend traditional borders, and redesign the world.
We are in desperate need of new human visions.

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