Magazine article Stage Directions

We're Improvising

Magazine article Stage Directions

We're Improvising

Article excerpt

The future of theatre needs new ideas from everywhere

C1 lay Shirky, writer and speaker on the social and economic impact of the Internet, as well as author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, recently wrote a piece about the vanishing city newspaper. He relates what the Internet has done to newspapers and puts it in context with the early-1500s, when the printing press was new technology, and no one knew how the new technology would affect how books got made and disseminated, and what effect it would have on culture. Turns out it was chaotic. Huge institutions were suddenly incredibly vulnerable and no one knew what institutions would take their place (think of a tiny little thing called Protestantism). It was chaotic. In his article, Shirky makes the point that in chaos, good ideas - a Venetian's idea to shrink a book, which made it cheaper, and therefore more desirable - seem huge in retrospect, but are, in fact, completely indistinguishable from bad ideas in the moment. That printer didn't know he was inventing the silver bullet that would spread books everywhere, he was just trying anything to stay afloat.

Shirky is not trying to bash papers or hasten their demise. He talks about the value journalism adds to a society, and how society needs journalism in order to function and be healthy. And then he says this: "When we shift our attention from 'save newspapers' to 'save society,' the imperative changes from 'preserve the current institutions' to 'do whatever works/ And what works today isn't the same as what used to work. …

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