I have lately rearranged my leisure time to include more reading, especially for my beloved but long neglected blogs. Over at his blog Fr Powell OP has posted on an 8 minute video exploring the continued use of the Obama campaign logo during his presidency. These two things gave me pause to consider just how “the internet” has turned the game around when it comes to the dissemination of information, the considerable production values achieved by virtual “nobodies” and the impact that new technologies have had on popular philosophy.
Let’s start with Fr Powell. He is not a television host, a senior prelate or a critically acclaimed “specialist”. Rather, he is a humble friar who splits his time between his own academic endeavours, teaching at universities and writing books on prayer (as well as maintaining a blog for his own amusement). I can’t speak for others, but I read his posts because his interests overlap with my own, and the fruits of his contemplation serve to feed my own (thanks, St Thomas!). Fifteen years ago, it was nigh impossible for a university student in Australia (or Japan) to follow the daily musings of a priest in America (or Rome). What’s more, the priest would need to be publishing something a lot more “substantial”, or be a lot more famous, to get any kind of attention at all.
The next step is the video. Because I read Fr Powell’s blog for my own pleasure, I am alerted to things I would not likely have found otherwise. The blog serves to connect people like me to things in which we are interested as well as for publicising the efforts of industrious individuals who do not have billions of moneys in disposable budgets to squander on advertising. The video in question is hosted by Pajamas Media, who appear to be a startup group of politically conservative bloggers. I was impressed at the production values I saw, with excellent videography, use of professional broadcasting techniques (informative plates, dress, camera work) and the rhetorical balance in play. The only thing that distinguished this piece from a “real” television show was that it is only available on their website.
And yet, this is its greatest freedom. The content is not shackled to the distribution – if a network’s internal philosophy and politics do not agree with the content, they will not broadcast (let alone fund) it, something well understood right now when the bulk of America’s traditional news entities have become openly submissive organs of the state agenda. The merits of the content are the only barriers to its distribution – if the content is meritorious, it will spread by word of mouth alone. If it is not worth watching (due to being inaccurate, ill-produced, or unengaging) it will generate no interest and no traffic.
I have slipped into repeating what is common knowledge by now, but perhaps there are one or two people reading who, like me, simply hadn’t noticed the elegance of this new direction, and the new solutions it has generated for stuffy old problems. Please check out both Fr Powell’s blog Domine, da mihi hanc aquam! (“Lord, give me this water!”) and the video on political branding. Both are informative, entertaining, and very well produced.