Outsource me! by Leonardo Solaas
"Outsource me!" by Leonardo Solaas presents a competition within the competition of Readme 100. This ironic subversion is repeated on various levels of the project: it subverts the usual outsourcing relationships, as well as subverting the idea of the delegation of "technical" work by the "creative" artist to an “uncreative” programmer (or any "hands-on" person). [...]
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Outsource me!

"Outsource me!" by Leonardo Solaas presents a competition within the competition of Readme 100. This ironic subversion is repeated on various levels of the project: it subverts the usual outsourcing relationships, as well as subverting the idea of the delegation of "technical" work by the "creative" artist to an “uncreative” programmer (or any "hands-on" person). One proof of the project's success is in the discussion that happened in the comment threads on Solaas's call for submissions to be his employer [1]. Irony does not transcend all borders: one person took the call literally and was dismayed by the apparent reiteration of the same old pattern of the "uncreative programmer" and "handless artist."

"Outsource me!" is a two-phase project: a recruiting phase and a production phase. When he posted the call for ideas, Solaas, who is Argentinean, considered limiting the circle of potential "employers" to people from so-called developed countries. This twist could have made the project funnier but could have seriously limited its scope, so Solaas and the Readme 100 organizers (who acted as Solaas's "meta-employer") decided to leave this option out. The mere fact that potential employers had to look through Solaas's lists of skills, interests and past works when deciding whether an idea is suitable for him seemed enough of an ironic twist.

Among the submitted projects - which were of a generally high level - were a few excellent ones. A favorite of this text’s authors was “Appagotchi” by Eric Londaits, another of whose submissions was eventually selected to be realized. “Appagotchi” suggests creating a simple software application that must be nurtured (opened, closed, saved, etc.) similar to a Tamagotchi pet; only if it is sufficiently cared for will it grow into a full-featured, overly-complicated application. “Appagotchi” turned out to be too complex a project to be realized in the short time period available, so Solaas and the Readme 100 organizers decided against it. Having to negotiate with both an employer and a meta-employer must not have been an easy task for Solaas, especially given the weight of all the project’s accumulated irony. One wonders if he is personally satisfied with the results of his project's subverted logic, or if he eventually tired of dealing with the multiple twists and levels of supervision he had devised. Then again, real jobs quite often involve the stress of coping with multiple supervisors who have conflicting sets of demands and priorities, and who, despite existing within organizations that often have meticulously organized institutional structures, somehow manage to function as if there were no coordination at all. Maybe Solaas's project isn't so ironic after all - or maybe it simply reminds us of one of the painful ironies of working life.

Amy Alexander, Olga Goriunova

[1] See http://rhizome.org/thread.rhiz?thread=18625&page=1#35596

by admin, posted 15 Feb 2006


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