Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Jockeying with Camels


This is about to get controversial.

Especially if you are a data-worshipping, left-brained "suit" looking to make your mark as part of the "creative" process. Or, if you are a "designer" type being paid to compromise your artistic integrity in the name of a commercial objective.

See if you are one of the characters portrayed in this video, dedicated to exploring the deeper implications of how "a camel is a horse designed by a committee".

The origins of "a camel is a horse designed by committee" has been attributed to Vogue magazine, July 1958 and also to University of Wisconsin philosophy professor Lester Hunt. Essentially, this phrase condemns group decision-making, emphasizing the headache of incorporating too many conflicting opinions into a single project. In this figure of speech, the distinguishing features of a camel, (humps and cranky demeanour), are taken to be flaws that resulted from poor design.

The video illustrates not only the inherent flaw in a "design by committee" approach but also the "spine of a jellyfish" character of the designer. Do you think any designer or creative person worth their salt would permit that level of bastardization of their work? At what point does a professional speak up in an attempt to STOP the Insanity?

If you are that "creative" type (writer, videographer, sculptor etc.), it would appear that if "they" came up with the camel, then by default "you" have become its jockey. Yes it is against your better judgment, but it's your signature on the work.

If you are the "customer" in this scenario, remember this video the next time you are in a meeting with a "creative" type who defends their work with passion, disagreeing with the 47 "tweaks" you want to make. Perhaps it's because they DO know what they're doing, consider themselves to more than highly paid cake decorators and have the balls to back their work - even at the risk of insulting you or losing your business.

Maybe your designer can see a thoroughbred that you can't.

And hope to spare you from riding one of a million marketing camels.

"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur"

Originally posted August 18, 2008

1 comment:

Mark L. Fox said...


That video might be the most hiliarious thing I have ever watched...thanks for sharing it.