Sunday, March 6, 2016

PR As Technology

Is PR a technology?
Is technology just equipment?

We mostly think of “technology” as tools --like the wheel or the steam engine or the smartphone.    Objects. Things.  Not activities.

But the word technology comes from “technos” – an art or craft—and “logos” – meaning a system. Ultimately, technology is something that allows us to do something: we have to look beyond “things” to application - which means activity

Is technology a function of the mind?

The philosopher Heidegger wrote that “tools” were only really tools when they were in use --and therefore invisible.  

If it works, it's invisible

 When you chop down a tree with an axe – you don’t focus on the axe – unless you don’t know what you are doing, lack "craft" as it  – but on the action of cutting itself.   It’s how you do it that matters.

Your smartphone?  It’s whatever you want to use it for.  Intention matters. Including sexting. 

Is love technology?

“PR” is often confused with the vast array of “things” that allow it to do what needs to be done – equipment -- TV, computers, digital networks and mobile devices, printing devices, magazines and newspapers – they are all parts of the System, all expressions of the craft.    
Technologies are all connected

But...think of a banquet.  Are the utensils the dinner?  No, the whole is greater than the parts.  Utensils allow us to eat the food, which is carefully prepared.  But the people there matter too -- the selection of guests, depending on the purpose of the banquet.   There is an agenda.   
The technology of social gatherings

So, yes, adopting this kind of organic definition,  PR is “technology”.   

And while media may change -- if you like, the "utensils" of PR – the art itself  subsumes all, according to its purpose.

PR uses media  to persuade people to do various things, according existing beliefs.  To buy something for example.  Or to vote a certain way.  It is successful when it can distract them from contradictory beliefs.

Basic technology -- speech

At the most basic level PR is communication—but more than that -- to the extent it uses art or craft in a systematic way. 

How the Iroquois did it

Our ancestors did it in tribal meetings, where the most powerful speech makers applied their arts.  When they were "persuasive" there was no sign of craft.  Listeners suspended disbelief.  It all seemed completely authentic.

The tool, PR as a technology was invisible.
The  aim of PR is always the same – to convince people to do certain things, regardless of actual facts.  It is intrinsically virtual.
PR is about narrowing choice -- to one thing.  Don’t  buy Pepsi.  

Buy Coke.  Don’t vote Hillary. Vote Bernie.  This is Good. This is Bad.  And so on. 
The living expression of collective idiocy

Media are most effective when the ideas they convey are taken as a priori.

The Devil

Putin is the Devil.  Trump is a Fraud.

The Fraud

We know these things to be true.

1984 is always

And we don't know why.

We forget who told us.  We just believe.

That’s the technology of PR.

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