A Brief and Completely Unsourced History of Job Titles
By Diane Zilliox
➡️ tl;dr jump to CV
First there were cave people. Some excelled at “rock,” others mastered “fire.” A handful of vanguards invented the proto-selfie, coating their miraculously globby articulating fingers with pigment and smacking them onto the cave walls.
A whole lot later, there were craftspeople; the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. In England, trades are adopted as surnames: Smith, Tailor, Miller, Fisher. Perhaps Cook owes a debt of ancestral intuition to Fire Guy. I’m not an anthropologist.
Then the 20th century came sweeping in and shit gets way more delineated. We have HVAC technicians and anesthesiologists and aeronautical engineers and boutique pet groomers – there are jobs and those jobs have specific functions and the person doing the function has a title. Usually, it describes the function.
Oh but then the 21st century gets uploaded and all of a sudden there’s Innovation Alchemists and Growth Hackers and Moonshot Engineers and any manner of sportless “Coaches” and it’s all a little less clear what the people and their functions do.
I worked in Hollywood throughout the oughts where everyone was a “Hyphenate.” Producer-Director and Designer-Stylist-Consultant and Model-Activist-Blogger. Before Showrunning I was a Producer-Editor, or charmingly, a “Preditor.” Having only one box to check is to be inadequate. The gig economy becomes a thing. There’s PhD-Lyft drivers and professional video gamers. It is said that 90% of babies born today will hold jobs that haven’t been invented yet.
Once-stark lines that divided industries have blown away like chalk, dusting us each with a bits from a wide range of modern survival and thrive-al (ugh) skills. We creatives are complex and evolving amalgamations of proficiencies. Here’s a modest suggestion for the 2020s: Let’s rip out of the Five Word Job Title like an itchy sweater with a scratchy label.
Here’s a toast to the idea that you don’t have to be an Über Spëcialist to be more than the sum of your parts. We are each a shimmery constellation of experiences, knowledge, skills, creativity, perspective, and interests. Let’s collaborate 🔥 Bring me your project, your problem, or your idea and lets see what kind of trouble we can get into.
Casual Curriculum Vitae
American, b. 1981 in Dallas, Texas and now resides in Barcelona, Spain.
Master, Research for Design & Innovation, ELISAVA University, Barcelona, Spain 2018.
Bachelor of Science, Radio TV Film, University of Texas at Austin, 2005.
HAM callsign KI5JSV.
Summary: I started out in documentaries and eventually built a career in unscripted television, where I worked for a dozen years. It was a tremendous learning experience in which I was ultimately an executive (which entailed project management, team leadership, and a lot of responsibility) while also a lead creative (which taught me how to tell a compelling, authentic, and impactful story) all within the parameters of hallucinatory budgets, impossible deadlines, and suborbital egos. It was exhilarating, but eventually unfulfilling work. In 2017 I moved from Los Angeles to Barcelona and completed a Masters in Research and Design for Innovation. The energy and artistry of this city continues to inspire me, as does the international community of designers, entrepreneurs, thinkers, tinkerers, and changemakers that also call this place home.
Motivation: To make and put out good into the world. To foster systemic change where the present is failing, and to protect what is meaningful from corruption or loss. To engage and empower through media, art, and technologies. To create better futures.
Hard Skills: Writing, Producing, and Directing audiovisual media. Technical production including Cinematography, Photography, Sound Design and Editing. Qualitative research, Design and Prototyping of concrete and abstract solutions. Generation of User Personas, Stakeholder Mapping and Blueprinting.
Soft Skills: Storytelling, Interviewing, Design Thinking, Systems Thinking, Trend Hunting, Project Management, Leadership and Teamwork. Brainstorming and Ideating.
Interests: Circular Economics, Futurism, Urban Design, Startups, Ethics in Tech, Food Systems, AI, Policy, Design.
Ongoing and recent projects: Media producer for Democrats Abroad Global Communications Team, short film collaboration with Political Economist Mark Blyth, Brown University, consumer trends researcher for international COVID19 study Global Human Research, Co-Founder of carbon neutral retail startup project BOSC, comissioned art film director of The Next Enlightenment, produced for an AI themed program at the Tate Exchage, Tate Modern London.
Past Experience: Media project management from concept creation through delivery. Creating, pitching, and producing original content. Liason between corporate and creative. Budgeting. Problem solving. Creative commissions and artistic expositions. Clients in the United States include National Geographic, IFC, AMC, Discovery Health, Bravo and others. I had a fancy agent at a fancy agency.
Passions: World cuisines, Swimming, Public Transit, Furniture Design, Astronomy, Camping, Dressage. It’s dancing horses.
Full and formal CV on request.
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