Sunday, 7 February 2010

The unexpected fecundity of public relations: the generative art of spinning facts

In “simple”semiotic environments,if I want to tell you something, I tell it to you. This is ok, if I need to communicate to you that the glass is empty or full: binary code. Semiotic environments, especially if populated by biological organisms, tends to be slightly more complicated. In mammals and especially in primates, you can observe a terrific explosion of semiotic complexity. Just to mention some in group of apes: I want you to believe that I don't know you know I've seen you. This is called Machiavellian intelligence and apes proved to be able to use high level of deception, manipulating other (possible) thoughts. Or better the projections of the subject about others thoughts.

Then we have societies, human societies. With institutions, group of individuals, just individuals, theory about single individuals can collectively organize their individual knowledge through shared individual archives.....

The semiotic environment of human societies is actually quite complex, rich, articulated, chaotic even if highly organized (or highly infrastructered even if you prefer...). So it happens very often that an entity decides to communicate with group of individuals with a facilitator,a messenger.

Very often we think that the entity is actually giving the content of the message to the messenger, based on “facts”. Then we think that is just about smartness and honesty of the messenger “how the fact is delivered in to a message”.

In reality, in the semiotic reality, the message is always a case of generation.

The messenger is always generative, no matter the content to be delivered.

In our society the messengers are building a narrative universe of stories and characters, manufacturing faces of institutions, values of corporation, facts of people's life. Far from being liars,manipulators of fact, the public relations messengers are the artificers of what's happening in the semiotic-spheres.

Indeed, humans don't inhabit a world of facts, but a world of transmitted stories, in which the fluctuations perpetrated by the intermediaries are generative and genuine new happenings. The first human fact was mute, solipsistic and sterile. Only when someone started to spin the fact in to a story, the fact started to be vivid, observable and real.

In our societies, what a company does is much more than the facts related to the company: you want to know the opinion of the company, the face of the company, jokes from and about the company: you want to listen to an articulated speech, what the company is. But rarely companies are so semioticly complex to be able to communicate what they are in the semiotic-sphere. They are invisible worms, eating soil of facts, submarine of narration. Messengers will catch the worms and the hunting will transform invisible companies in dragons, doves or donkeys. We are fact-blind and the messengers give us eyes, colorful eyes. It's a long story, with a lot of philosophical interferences (ah, these philosophers of truth...), our good Xenophanes said that “if oxen were able to imagine gods, then those gods would be in the image of oxen”, and the too good Kant said that with green glass, things will appear green to us.

I'm saying that things appear narrated to us, so someone must have narrated them. Narrations spin facts, so if we live in a semiotic-sphere, someone must have spun the facts...

If you have a face and an identity, trust me, it is after spinning and spinning. Nowhere on earth you'll find the immobile, static fact of your identity.

So my friends, let's spin!

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