The silent designer and the quest for fame

Sometimes I get the impression that web designers (and I use that term to include our programmatically minded developer friends, who design code) are out there working for fame. It’s like we’re working for the same kind of fame that Steve Jobs enjoyed, or that Mark Zuckerberg enjoys today: respected for their savviness, technical chops, and admired on a large scale for inventing new industries.

Except, we can’t all be like that, and yet we all still strive for it. Maybe I’m just lazy, or honestly realistic, but I don’t see much of a point. I will not ever be admired or famous or as innovative as those people. Like most people, I’m just sorta here, doing work that more often than not I can’t even really share because it’s for a private or personal audience. I do work I’ve never told anyone about, and I’ve done good work in these cases, too. I, like most people, could do the most amazing thing ever, and the likelihood of it being noticed is almost nil. The Internet has made the world smaller, but it also made the world smaller.
Virtually everyone in a corporate environment is like this. Those people, who arguably make the world turn, will never get much recognition. Even at companies like Google and Apple, we never hear much beyond what “the company” did. Someone at Apple made inertial scrolling a thing. Someone at Google made the servers hum at insane speeds. And then there are people who enjoy the luxury of being able to write all day and they can get up and scream at people and make tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for having produced what is of little value. Even this post you’re reading now, that I’m writing for myself to organize some thoughts, is of no value. I don’t even know why you’re still reading this.
So given that you and I are never going to amount to much, it begs the question: “Why even try?” Why should I even try to break some new paradigm, or shift the way people think about things, or produce something awesome for a bunch of useless likes or comments or views? Even if this post hit every major blog and media outlet in the country, it’ll get me no where. I will gain nothing from it, and that’s both depressing and very real.
I’m just a guy that works as the silent designer. I do things for people and businesses that support other people just so I can eat real food. It doesn’t allow me to take vacations or save much for retirement or see much enjoyment in things. And you’re just the same, and regardless of what empty promise you’ve been told that “you can do whatever you want”, “you can be anything you want to be”, or “you control your future”, no, you don’t. Because if we did, we’d all be doing that right now.
And you’re still reading this, and I don’t know why.

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Photo of Justin Harter


Justin has been around the Internet long enough to remember when people started saying “content is king”.

He has worked for some of Indiana’s largest companies, state government, taught college-level courses, and about 1.1M people see his work every year.

You’ll probably see him around Indianapolis on a bicycle.

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