The Rise of Designer Communities: Has the Algorithm Lost Its Rhythm?

The Rise of Designer Communities: Has the Algorithm Lost Its Rhythm?

Take your design hat off for a moment, and imagine you’re a farmer. You’ve spent ages cultivating the perfect aubergine, and are ready to take it to market.

Take your design hat off for a moment, and imagine you’re a farmer. You’ve spent ages cultivating the perfect aubergine, and are ready to take it to market. Only there’s one hitch: the marketplace that promised to put your prized veg on show, isn’t. Instead they’re promoting Dave’s chilli (and he hasn’t spent _half _as long growing his). Welcome to the world of online algorithms.

Initially, the marketplace welcomed your quirky produce, with its unique humps and hues, but now they’re only showcasing ‘the perfect vegetable’. “We are showing your aubergine! Look!” they say, pointing at the very back of the warehouse, across rows of uniform vegetables. Youtube engagement, anyone?

So you’re stuck. How do we make sure people see your aubergine? (The aubergine is your product, don’t be filthy.)

In a previous newsletter, I spoke about finding your ‘design tribe’ through online groups such as Designer Slack Communities. Maker communities are a great way for like-minded designers to connect globally and share their work — and they’re on the rise.

_“There seems to be _increasing demand_ to connect, learn, and collaborate with other makers as new spaces emerge.”_ — Ryan Hoover

Hot off the Press

David vs Goliath: The shift from big communities, to small ones.

  • YouTube’s Bias Recommendation Bubble: In a recent article, Laurie Sullivan asks the question — did personalisation create bias? It’s no surprise that algorithms massively impact our viewing habits, but what does this mean for content creators?
  • We’ve all been suckered into a ‘YouTube hole’ before; you start by watching a clip of some Ted talk you’ve been recommended and before you know it you’re in deep watching screaming goat compilations at 3 o’clock in the morning. You’re not entirely to blame — speaking at a CES panel discussion, YouTube’s Chief Product Officer, Neil Mohan, revealed that YouTube recommendations account for 70% of the videos you watch. And further down the rabbit hole we go.
  • Asides from the fact that this has a great effect on the reachability of individual creators’ work, there are some pretty sinister implications as regards the general populace; think conspiracy theories, eroding faith in governments, and discrediting the media. But that’s a story for another day.

(Take a look at Mozilla-funded project, [TheirTube_](, for a peek at what recommended YouTube videos look like on the homepages of people with different perspectives and interests.)_

And whilst we’re on the topic, let me take this opportunity to showcase some fab design YouTubers:

Weekly Design: Tutorials, assets, and interviews by Punit Chawla.

Femke.Design: UX design, user research, and prototyping by Femke van Schoonhoven.

Charli Marie TV: Design and creativity by Charli Marie.

  • Escape from Corporations*: *Social media giants such as Facebook want to lock the internet into their respective platforms. This means instead of having a steady stream of visitors funnelled directly to your site, you’re relying on the bigger corporation to promote your work to your followers and send them your way. And therein lies the rub…

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