Attribution in co-design

October 1, 2020

I was watching Enola Holmes this past weekend, when I learned about the whole suing debacle that’s happening with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate. Essentially, the estate is arguing that the Netflix movie (and Nancy Springer’s novels) take key elements from Doyle’s later books, namely, the fact that Sherlock “has emotions” and “respects women.” They’re suing for copyright infringement.

This situation got me thinking about attribution. Leah Lockhart describes attribution as:

Giving credit where credit is due throughout the process.

An interesting and, I think, essential, part of any co-design process. But what does that look like? How do we facilitate attribution well? And who decides what is safe, accurate or just?


Unlearning oppression in facilitation

[Attribution] steps beyond co-production or participatory design and aspires to shared control, shared accountability and more equally distributed benefits and harms of what we design.

I appreciate anyone who is learning in the open, as Leah seems to be, here. Reading this very much resonated with me, as someone who has shifted between a user research position in a large organization (anonymous! anonymous!) and a co-design practitioner thinking about the fuzzy origins of ideas.

Design is Human

What makes you a good designer? Are you a designer if you’re an expert … or is everybody a designer?

In this podcast, Dr. Pierce Gordon – a researcher, facilitator, innovation catalyst, community builder – speaks with Elayne DeLeo about the very often overlooked innovation and design solutions created by oppressed and underserved communities since the beginning of time.

Open Design Now: Why Design Cannot Remain Exclusive

Open design, a “form of co-creation,” is an interesting one when it comes to attribution. The open design philosophy poses an alternative to the era of copyright. So, as ideas become more open and shared, how do we manage the blurry chaos of attribution?


This was originally published on my newsletter, Design With. It was archived in 2023.