Talent 2.0. Who owns the channel has the power
An appeal for civil courage
Hans Keilson, a Dutch novelist and psychiatrist, passed away in May 2011. Strange things can happen and I will be using Hans Keilson as a metaphor. Barely two years ago, a short article in the New York Times was enough to rediscover this author and psychiatrist in the Netherlands. This happened after a period of 60 years of silence on his books. The complete author- and publisher scene had missed him, over the course of 60 years. The Dutch media had the nerve to call it a “late breakthrough”. One sentence in the NYT was enough to get the ball rolling.
What is this social mechanism that on the one hand means that big talents are not spotted and on the other hand can make you world famous with one well-aimed fart on youtube? That fart can make you rich within no-time, whilst caring for a sick relative for 30 years wouldn´t even give you a thank you. I think that’s a curious viewpoint on what value is about.
Joshua Bell, a world renowned musician who easily fills Carnegie Hall experienced how everyone walked him by when he was playing one morning in a subway station. `Context drives meaning´ made concrete.
How can it be that we can find articles from or about famous foreigners in the so-called quality newspapers and that a couple of days later, an open letter appears in the same newspaper by an anonymous reader who is better informed and who gives a better defined and sharper opinion. Information, which the qualities subsequently don´t use. ´Scientists´ seem to be starting to copy the behavior of the rich and famous and sometimes run off the rails with their seminars to which they invite each other. Quality news channels which act more and more like a Amazon catalogue – filling the ecosystem: whoever owns the channel has the power.
Of course, it could be that many of us are too insecure of forming our own opinion. Being a fan of a famous writer or of composer J.S. Bach, with his Mattheus Passion seems a good strategy to not mess things up socially. Such an opinion is low risk in this society. Socially accepted, established opinions – the societal cannon forms a stronghold, and sometimes a black hole, which is difficult to avoid and apparently only after paying a price.
It takes courage to ‘reject’ a famous person, to place your bets on a ´challenger´ and to remain faithful to yourself. Vaclav Havel made such an impression because of that. Nobel prize winner for Chemistry, Daniel Shechtman , had to wait a long time as well, after he was removed from his university like an Israeli Buikhuisen. Science 1.0 does not select for visionaries, as we´ve learned from Thomas Kuhn. In peer-reviewed magazines, references are very important. For truly new insights there are no references, and a new vision is henceforth always ´unscientific´ for a while.
Something new is a connection between known elements that has not been observed before. You can find something new by connecting things which had previously not been related (De Bono). Sometimes we need to change our mental model (everything we have learned) and that seems to be the case here. Our products and services don´t make us happy anymore, and our institutions don’t serve the purpose of those whom they ought to serve. Maybe we have to start listening to others.
Why do I come up with this column on this subject, and then on this blog? My vision: we live in a fast, complex, obscure, globalizing world without a central, shared point of reference and with little capacity to be orchestrated. We are together a part of that problem. I think that in the next 10 years we will desperately need people who really have their say. People who matter.by using skills, knowledge, wisdom and insight, Shouters and farters, please step aside. Let’s hope that we, as a society, can keep the road open to those who matter.
At the beginning of this century I truly hope you and I will be aware of such a responsibility. I trust that they will use this realization to name the true societal challenges, to ‘occupy’ this agenda and to formulate concrete contributions, like a serenade to the new world and it’s countless opportunities!
Who owns the channel, has the power. Use it and use it with integrity.