Outside The Box


Do you have CNN?

Henri IV, King of France was one of the seminal figures in French history.

Born in 1553 and a Protestant Huguenot, he became King of France in 1589 and founded the Bourbon Dynasty.

Henri is perhaps best known for his famous quote “Paris is worth a Mass” for his conversion from Calvinism to Catholicism upon his coronation.

What he is also perhaps less well known for is his illiteracy.

Though King of France and a very accomplished and powerful and successful ruler, Henri was functionally illiterate.

This was nothing unusual in 1589.  Many rich and powerful people in government were illiterate. If they needed documents written or letters read to them or drafted, they simply dicated and an army of clerics and scribes were always on hand to do the ‘technical’ stuff, like writing.

In fact, it was more the exception rather than the rule that anyone, even the richest and most powerful, would be anything other than.

Today, Barack Obama argues for the right to keep his blackberry. We don’t find it at all strange that his predecessors were most likely computer illiterate.  Clinton, in fact, famously sent only two emails during his entire 8 years in office, and one of them was to test the email system.

Now we are embarking on the world of video literacy.

I have no doubt that in the not too distant future, (for things happen far more quickly these days), people of another generation will be equally astonished that famous television journalists like Katie Couric were, effectively, video illiterate. That they hired professional ‘scribes’ to craft any video statements or pronouncements that they wanted to make, and that this was considered completely normal.

Next week we will make our first visit to a rather small but pleasant country that his hired us, not to make TV shows or even to do anything related to the news or television at all, but rather to make their entire government ‘video literate’.  Every ministry, every minister.

We think its a good idea.

In February, we will be going to Washington, invited to present the same concept to the new Obama administration.

We also think that this is a good idea.

Video is not TV anymore.

It’s a tool of basic communication of ideas.

It’s thinking outside the box.


5 responses to “Outside The Box

  1. Singapore perhaps? Wherever it is – safe travels.

  2. I’d just love this small country to be the Vatican. Discuss.

  3. Ah… this comment I find just too appealing.
    The rise of Renaissance Art in Europe was indeed the flowering of a new technology and a highly visual one to communicate the story of Jesus and the Resurrection to illiterate masses. From the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to the Annunciation to the Last Supper, these great works of art are in fact as much educational as they were beautiful. Indeed, why not embrace video to do the same today?

  4. VJ work on par with the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to the Annunciation to the Last Supper.

    Please pass me your pipe with the funny smelling tobacco.

    You have now officially had more than enough. 🙂

  5. Sorry for repeat posting – having problems.

    After writing my original comment (very much tongue in cheek) I was intrigued to discover that The Vatican has indeed joined the video revolution. The Pope now has his own Youtube channel:

    ….close up of the hands etc (joined together in prayer).

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