Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Milena Garfield Trobozić
“This thing destroys memory and weakens the mind, releasing it from the effort that makes it strong. It is inhumane.” This is how Plato cites Socrates in his dialogue Phaedrus, or On Beauty. The “thing” from this quote refers to the new “inhumane technology of writing”.
Socrates, who, as we know, only verbally conveyed his thoughts, was deeply disturbed by the conviction that human memory, and hence the mind and ability to think, would be destroyed by a new technological invention: the pen. But the complete opposite happened: human culture and civilization evolved to then unimaginable levels, thanks to the development of the written word.
The texts, however, were handwritten, and the books and records were quite rare, expensive, and available only to the privileged.
All the way to Gutenberg. His new technology, the printing press, brought the development of mass production of written documents and books. Many poets, thinkers, and writers of that time, whose refined verses and sublime works of prose existed only in the form of very precious and rare books, intended to the highly learned people, and which, as valuable items, were only owned by the rich and powerful, were concerned about the emergence of the new printing technology, just like Socrates was once concerned by the writing pen.
They lamented over the fact that this new technology allowed proliferation of worthless, vulgar content, that cater to the lowest tastes of the uneducated audience. Among the contents that the “unenlightened” devoured, and which the new market produced, especially popular were the so-called chivalric novels, full of monsters, dragons, damsels in distress, knights who died only to reincarnate again, headless giants and similar sensationalist wonders that the unenlightened commoners simply adored. The learned people were convinced that this plague would destroy all the real cultural values, that it would bring about the decline of tastes and a massive stupefying of the audience.
But the opposite happened. Gutenberg’s new press technology helped spread the general literacy, it helped the development of the universities in Europe and the flourishing of literature. The flood of cheap chivalric novels and kitschy pastorals, which were “mass” printed and sold “dirt cheap”, lead Cervantes to write a story about a poor landlord who, by virtue of bad literature, lost his mind. This poor fellow dubbed himself Don Quixote of La Mancha, and, although with utterly deranged mind, became the first global super hero of our time. Thanks to the new market of Latin America and the new technology, Don Quixote sold in unprecedented number of copies for that time. The publisher, like any good manager, immediately ordered the sequel. This is how the second part of the Don Quixote was created, which is considered the origin of the modern novela – a new literary form that has forever changed the history of storytelling. Not only did new press technology didn’t destroy literacy, but it also contributed to the democratization of knowledge and directly influenced the emergence of the most important literary genre without which today’s literature would be unimaginable: the realistic novel.
Nothing, therefore, is new under the heavens. Today’s new technology in the form of digital new media, and the mass production of all sorts of content that is immediately accessible to everyone, will neither destroy nor create today’s culture and art. Media are not the decisive factor for the survival of culture and art. What is decisive is Art itself. Of course, it is important that we know new media well, and that we communicate through them, but in order to reach the letter C (communication), we must first master the letter A. A-rt is the alpha of our business. Media, campaigns, communication, Facebook, Twitter, will not help if the art is not exciting.
A couple of years ago, we had an example of a very good, smart, witty and strategically very well thought-out campaign for a theatre that took place in a taxi. The campaign attracted a lot of attention as it became a viral phenomenon that everyone talked about. But, as far as we know, it has not significantly increased either the number of visits or the price of theatre tickets. The position of marketing and communication is of crucial importance in today’s environment filled with many different contents. But only under one sine qua non condition: that we have a good product.
In today’s economy, which some rightly call the attention economy, even top art needs marketing. But even top-notch marketing doesn’t serve any purpose without top-quality art. If you want to be a successful manager in culture, your job is not to have perfect knowledge of social media. Any communication manager can help you with that, or even anyone who is just a little older than 15 years. Your job is to recognize and produce a Don Quixote, to nurture art and develop the audience’s taste for new content, to discover talents, make good orchestras and exciting seasons. Without this, no Twitter campaign can help you.