This is a talk I gave at Jim Flint’s “e-commerce cocktails” event at The Lux Gallery, Hoxton, London, on Friday 26th June, 2000
Preventions and cures.
One of the claims of big ecommerce companies is to be the ‘Architects’ of new markets, experiences, economies…
Parallels to architecture abound in what we do and the roles we give ourselves.
we do not seem to have in place some of the sense of responsibility
that the ‘real’ architectural profession has about what they create.
creating a building, a piece of urban fabric, a city-plan – a good
architect acknowledges the aesthetic, economic, social and ecological
context of what they are creating and the implications of their
intervention or innovation in that mesh of context.
the business case and best practice lead them to consider the best
possible route through it all for their client, which will still
deliver a creation of worth and vision –
it’s tough, but that’s why there are only a handful of great architectural practices in the world at any time…
Do we do the same? Do we consider the many-fold impacts of new economy business creation?
instance, what if we create a home-banking application, which might put
several thousand bricks and mortar bank clerks out of work, but create
more jobs in a call-center –
what are the quality of life issues there – what are the impacts on
their brand. The project may have been instigated by a CIO or CEO, then
the chief marketer has to do damage control when the media seize upon
As we know, we as designers may engage the problem in a multidisciplinary way, but the client may not.
a case such as this, an e-business partner that advises on matters
wider than the e-business technology and experience – but also the
business and brand implications of the initiative; not through
platitudes or cyber-liberal new-speak but though proven, rigorous
methods such as lifecycle analysis, brand equity valuation, or the
oft-mentioned ‘triple bottom line’
(http://www.sustainability.co.uk/triple/triple.htm gives good examples
of this); would I believe be seen as a premium, high-value partner by
the advice and work we provide as designers is truly transformative and
strategic i believe we need to need to embrace these concepts.
there is a profound change in the way the world works, and we play a
part in directing it, i believe we need to adopt this forward-thinking
do not wish for a minute to do-down the contributions of big companies
to charity whether through support, sponsorship, active participation
or gifts – but just make plain that there is also a need for the
corporate whole to ACT with social responsibility in everything it does
otherwise we won’t be the architects of the new economy – but the
speculative condominium developers of the new economy…