Seems to have been a bit of traffic here in the past few days.
Back in March I wrote an article about some work I did for an architect designing some new residential colleges for a prominent university. The task was a five day stint, to produce ten images. Ultimately, a number of them were revised as the design went through more than a few iterations.
I published the article here, under the (incorrect, it turns out) presumption that the presentation had been made and the images were “out there”. In the course of doing other work with the firm, I made mention of the article to one of the designers with whom I was working. I was told right away that even though a presentation had been made, the images weren’t yet public, and was asked to take the article down for a while.
I immediately “unpublished” the article by re-dating it to some time in the future, which causes WordPress.com to treat it as a draft, taking it off the site, but keeping it stored for future publication. Unfortunately, Google, the great eye in the sky, indexed the page in the brief period that it was up, and anyone searching for the project could still easily turn it up. Odd thing is that in clicking on the link Google returned, you’d be taken right to the article, as if it were published.
…and therein lies the rub.
For what it is worth, there was no attempt on my part to publish the images in advance of any roll out by the university and my client. But the genie was out of the bottle.
A newspaper grabbed most of the images and posted them on their front page. Ta-dah!
It would have been nice to have been contacted by the news paper that published my images, or to have them consider re-sizing the images, or crop them and not print them in full. These concessions would be more in line with the “fair use” guidelines which are an important aspect of U.S. copyright law. Copyright law in the internet age, though, is essentially akin to parking regulations in Carson City, ca. 1880. A nice thought, but virtually unenforceable.
Still, they wouldn’t have had the chance to grab them if they weren’t here on this site. My only defense is, although I had written the article and had it ready to go, I did not believe it was still public, and was convinced I had taken it off the site for the time being. All traces of it have been removed now, though. No draft, nothing.
My apologies to those affected by the premature release of the images. I must state, clearly, that the architect’s office had no part in it, and did not know the images were public. Of course, neither did their client, for whom the images were to serve as a design tool and to help further the design discussion.
There are a number of readers’ comments associated with the news article in question. Some of them are amusing to anyone who has spent any serious time in an architecture office. The presumption that an initial design sketch represents anything other than a “what if” idea is pretty far-fetched. I’ve worked for twenty years in architecture, and although I have often been convinced that the first idea on every project was (he said facetiously) pure and utter genius, and that we could stop all work and just go ahead and build it, no project ever was built that looked anything like the first thoughts. It just doesn’t happen. The process is iterative, messy, fraught with advance and retreat. It’s the very reason my client, and my client’s client, would want to prevent any release of the images. Because they are only part of a process, and a small part at that.