Belsky Bits

A stream of photos, thoughts, and other bits by Scott Belsky, CEO of Behance and author of Making Ideas Happen.
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Bringing Tech Talent To NYC :: Cornell!?

So, here’s the deal: NYC is granting some land (and a hundred million dollars) to a university that wants to build a technology campus in NYC. Word on the street is that Cornell and Stanford are finalists.

The city’s goal is simple: Bring more great tech talent to NYC, which will encourage more technology companies to open offices (or start) in NYC, which will bring more JOBS to NYC. “Jobs” is the buzzword these days. I agree, a new tech campus in NYC would be great for all technology companies in NYC.

I’m pretty excited about this initiative. Our team at Behance is now 24 people and growing; we run the Behance Network, The 99%, and Action Method - and our pipeline of new technology for the creative industry is very robust. Suffice to say, we are growing fast and are ALWAYS looking for the best technology talent that wants to join us and help empower and organize the creative industries.

As a Cornell alum working in the tech community in NYC, I’m obviously rooting for Cornell. However, I am also very concerned that Mayor Bloomberg and the administration will overlook a very important question when deciding between Cornell and Stanford: Where do students in technology go to work when they graduate? Wherever their alumni network offers them a job.

It’s widely known that Stanford’s all-powerful alumni network has “first dibs” on tech talent, and this often means a quick migration of recent graduates to Silicon Valley (not Alley). Anecdotally, nearly all of my smart friends from Stanford leveraged their alumni network for jobs and, as a result, most of them stayed on the west coast. Even if Stanford students took a year or two studying in NYC, they would still tap their alumni network for jobs. And when they do, they’ll head back west to their home turf.

In contrast, Cornell is New York, through and through. Cornell’s alumni base is heavily skewed to the East Coast, and especially New York City. The fact that some of Cornell’s colleges are state-funded (and thus cheaper for in-state residents) helps explain the deep alumni roots in the region. When Cornell engineers graduate and look for jobs, their alumni network is much more likely to lead them to NY-based companies (or offices). Most of my friends from Cornell that founded companies did so in the region.

Bottom line: A Cornell tech campus in NYC will not only bring technology talent to the city, it will also keep tech talent in NYC.

Sure, there are a couple other cases I’d make for choosing Cornell:

  • NYC Weill Cornell Med College - tons of staff and some exciting collaborations that could take place between Medical school and technology campus!
  • A more broad application of technology inherent in the DNA of Cornell’s history, ranging from Agriculture and Biotechnology to Architecture and Hospitality.

Of course, at the end of the day, I am very excited about the prospects of ANY new technology campus in NYC. But I hope the NY tech community gets the most out of this opportunity, which is why i’m helping spread the word and supporting Cornell’s efforts.

Want to help?

Petition for Cornellians - for NYC’s Tech Campus

Follow @CornellTechNYC On Twitter

Read More Info Online

Super Clever LIGHT Illustrations

I love how light is being used as an object in this series I found on Behance…

I have a newfound interest in socially acceptable disobediences. Think leaning against the door in the subway or using cue-tips in your ears. There are some things that are supposed to be wrong, but we make them right through persistence.

Writing on a single grain of rice is so yesterday.

Writing on a single grain of rice is so yesterday.

(Source: matiascorea)

Sometimes work and play collide.

Sometimes work and play collide.

Ahhh…

Ahhh…

My vacation this summer is a bike trip in northern Italy - and I’m half way through it (about 150 miles of biking in total). My legs hurt, but sights like this one along the way make it all worthwhile.

Perhaps discoveries are the short-term carrots that keep us tirelessly working our way down the path towards long-term goals?

My vacation this summer is a bike trip in northern Italy - and I’m half way through it (about 150 miles of biking in total). My legs hurt, but sights like this one along the way make it all worthwhile.

Perhaps discoveries are the short-term carrots that keep us tirelessly working our way down the path towards long-term goals?

The Dark Side of Crowdsourcing

It makes me very sad to see some reputable design sites succumb to “community challenges” that are overt spec-contests for brands. 

I’ve been pretty vocal about the problems with this sort of crowdsourcing. Namely, it (1) incentivizes careless engagement and poor output, (2) harms the creative’s reputation via attribution to the subpar work they submit, (3) causes problems for the client when work is re-used and creatives don’t care enough to consult, (4) strips the relationship out of any creative engagement.

Oh, and it marginalizes the value of creation itself and wastes a ton of valuable time.

Our team is obviously very opinionated on this topic - and for good reason. For a company that wants to empower the careers of creative professionals, we should be vocal against practices and technologies that do the opposite.

I usually address the problem with a sense of optimism. I wrote an article in BusinessWeek about how to fix it. I’ve tried to prompt a discussion about creative meritocracy on The 99%, and i’ve shared optimistic predictions that this negative form of crowdsourcing will become obsolete, replaced by a more sustainable way to harness the power of the crowd.

But back to the point that makes me sad. More and more design/community sites are wavering in the spotlight of seduction: running official SPEC contests where hundreds (or thousands) of creative people do custom work for a particular brand/brief, knowing that only the winner gets payment for their work.

While some sites specialize in this sort of thing, even some mainstream design and creative industry sites (not naming names) are starting to make spec contests their business.

One design site that recently started doing this goes as far as saying, ”[site name retracted] Community Challenges are structured to ensure that you retain the rights to your work OR are compensated for your time. We respect the talent.”

I think that, by saying “we respect the talent,” they are suggesting that allowing people to own the rights to unused/unpaid work done for a particular client is…respect. How about the travesty of unpaid creative labor?

I came across one recent logo-design contest that had ~16,000 entries; all for a single 1,500 Euro prize. We asked, and participants claimed to spend an average of 3 hours per submission. Do a little math, and you’ll realize that 48,000 hours of labor (that’s 2000 days or 5.47 years of non-stop 24/7 work) went into it.

Houston, we’ve got a problem.

What’s the solution? Not sure. We need to speak up and ask questions when we see a red flag. We need to keep this discussion alive. 

For A Company (Happily) Under The Radar…

…It’s still nice to make a blip on the radar every now and then. Behance is pleased to join Yelp, DropBox, and one of my favorites Pinterest, on this list.

On The Topic Of “Risk”

I appreciated the great questions on risk and how to navigate a creative career filled with it, from The AND Project. You can read the interview on risk here.

Surrounding Ourselves With Progress

I’ve written about the benefits of surrounding yourself with progress on The 99% and am always searching for new tools, systems, and tricks to do this. Here’s one concept I spotted on the floor of the National Association for Professional Organizers annual conference when I spoke (yes, that exists). 

Discovered: The Cocoon Product Line

It may be overkill, but something about this organization tool really resonates.

Makes My Day

Makes my day when someone who reads my book takes the time to reach out and share kind sentiments, especially when it’s done creatively done.

Playing With Pinterest

I’ve been diving into Pinterest lately.

A few things I like about it: (1) The “pin stream” of what people are “pinning” from certain sites - like the picture above which displays the latest pins from Behance.net, (2) The ability to follow certain “Pin Boards” by certain people that I really respect, (3) The new iphone application that allows you to pin moments/places/things in everyday travels.

I’ve been advising Pinterest a bit, so i’m obviously biased. But I believe that utilities like Pinterest will prove indispensable as the web relies on credible people and brands to curate the world around us.