To those who have read the seminal book by Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin (“L’appartion du livre”), the history of the book may already be a fascinating subject. But what about the future of the book. There is a also great excitement in trying to foresee what the book will look like within a few years and I share with you a very promising experience in which PR is at the forefront.
Hypertext and non linear reading have been with us for a few years, so they will not likely be the next big innovation; neither can we expect that simple platforms to display text to generate major changes in what the book represents as an object of knowledge. Indeed, we may discuss if the main developments will be in the production of the books or in their consumption but, that’s for sure, the debate will certainly continue.
But I want to tell you about an innovative and promising experience which relates the future of the book and public relations. Last Thursday (April 3rd) I was at the House of Cinema in Villa Borghese (Rome) where I had the privilege to attend the first of six debates/ discussions led by Toni Muzi Falconi in cooperation with Fabio Ventoruzzo and which will provide the base for a video-book on “What are Public Relations”. Toni’s great presentation in the first session aimed to set the scenario of the profession and explore the argument that PR is a pervasive activity which quite often has been shaping the public opinion – often without the public’s awareness. But possibly the most interesting originality of this project came from the fact that several of the leading PR and non PR Italian specialists in the audience had the chance to comment, question, and sometimes challenge the views exposed by Toni. This will certainly give the video-book multiple possibilities of non-linear reading and generate further topics of discussion/thought. And if you have read PR manuals, you know that divergent thinking is not often found in the sense that texts most often try to build an argument rather than show a reality and then offer differing views. That is something this experience will certainly bring to the users of the final video-book: the possibility to listen, revisit or re-use dialogues on Public Relations.
When the Editor Luca Sosella presented the initiative, he quite intelligently chose an excerpt of Albert Camus’ “The Sisif’s Myth”. And indeed, the metaphor of Sisif’s silent jewel and his unconditional repetition of the same behaviour might well represent what can also happen to PR professionals who don’t cultivate a culture of questioning and debate.