Skin in the game

Today we, amongst other things, discussed Nassim Taleb's text on Skin in the Game, which deals with a person's relation towards an issue or topic in general. Skin in the Game in this context means being more or less directly involved in something.

As an example, let's say there is some sort of debate on whether smoking should be prohibited in Switzerland. I, as a non-smoker, would clearly care less about such a debate than a person that smokes on a regular basis, due to the fact that this person would be directly affected by a prohibition of smoking.

Are Designers direct?

We then talked about how we see ourselves as designers. In what sense are we more or less direct than people with other professions. What do we actually do? Or what do we make?

For quite some time, we talked about the difference between designing a well and building a well. The person that builds a well in a region which is desperate for water directly helps the people living there. A designer who only creates plans for such a well might not directly influence the well-being (hehe) of the people there, but might solve other issues, or include issues regarding the durability of the material or other things.

We discussed this in relation to our Bachelors topic. Björn indirectly advised us to, if possible, start with a topic in which we are directly involved. If not, we should somehow try to link the issue at hand to ourselves and our situation.


  • Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life (New York: Random House, 2018), excerpt.
  • David Graeber, Direct Action: An Ethnography (Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2009), chap 5.
  • The Yes Men Fix The World, P2P Edition, directed by Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno and Kurt Engfehr, 2009.