> Italian version
> Wsis? We Seize!
> World Summit on the Information Society
Attention as a common good

>>Italian version

Per saperne di più:
Wsis? WeSeize?

It's 1959. You are seated in a cinema theatre in San Francisco, watching The Tingler. It's the story of a doctor, Vincent Price, who discovers the existence of a creature who lives on people's spines. The only proof attesting to its existence is a type of shiver on the back. At a certain moment in the film Vincent Price warns you that if you don't want your spine to break you have to shout, and at the very moment you feel a mild electric shock which runs through the armchair and around you the other viewers begin to scream.

It was the Percepto effect, one of William Castle's most successful tricks where he had scattered electrified seats through the theaters for the Tingler. One of the first examples of guerilla marketing which best captures the constant search for attention which characterizes the relationship between media and public. Castle, willing to do anything just to feed the spectacularity of his products but not having the large budgets of "top" cinematic productions, used 'grassroots' methods to get the attention of the public. But the Castle method also had the effect, evident in the case of The Tingler, of creating a real event which by actively involving the spectators in an unconventional action, threw into crisis the crexdibility and vertical character of the cinema as a media.

In the Information Society, characterized by a continuous and communicative flow, the only truly rare good is attention, a precious commodity because it is not unlimited. Capturing the attention of the consumer, like that of the citizen or the user, is the single objective around which communications experts, marketing men and different persuaders excite themselves.

But if our attention has an intrinsically biopolitical value it is also transformed into economic value (in the same way that all our innovations, experimentation and discursive productions are transformed), then the central question is payment for work rendered and the means by which it is possible to oppose all of this.

The pervasive nature of the Information Society seems to have the capacity to continually eat away at spaces amenable to the creation of alternative discourses, which are driven by subjects with the intention of signaling their irreducibility to such a model of development. Languages become homogenized and otherness is sapped of its strength: every hypothesis of the subversion of the existent finds in the entertainment industry a machine capable of redirecting these efforts in the economic code.

The methods of communication guerrilla are a possible answer to this state of things. Dètournement, creative actions, subvertising, cultural sabotage are all useful practices for those wanting to succeed in getting attention for their own content without having the economic and technical means necessary to get into the mainstream communications circuit. The communications practices of the guerrilla have the power to reveal in an immediate way the ambiguity and absurdity of mainstream communications, little difference whether they be commercial or institutional information. But it is always a question of 'fakes' which are spectacularly opposed to 'true' messages, parodies of the originals which are thus mocked and made to appear ridiculous, but whose status as 'originals', and still less their nature as instruments of economic valorization, are never put in crisis.

To get attention so as to manage to communicate 'other' content is an operation which on its own is not enough: what really needs to be undermined is the credibility of the system in its entirety, to sabotage the mechanism which gives reliability and especially value to the spectacle.

It is necessary to sow the seeds of a degenerative process in the system of economic valorization of communications, extending the rules from the moment in which attention is grabbed. Not to limit oneself to interfering with the communication process, but become part of it, polluting it at its source. Inserting oneself in the flow and taking away its meaning. Corrupting the system of valorization through continual claims to the economic value of one's own attention and communicative activity.

We want attention, news, events, but everything has a price. The no holds barred battle for the conquest of attention is necessarily a zero sum game that can only come to an end with the citizen-consumer's total loss of faith in the credibility of economic communications in its totality.

There is no information without the spectacle and there is no spectacle free from economic reason. Doing guerilla marketing means inserting oneself in the communications flow, rendering explicit its economic nature and making all its contradictions more extreme whilst playing on their ground. To put it succinctly: to get paid for accelerating the end of it all.


Creative Commons License
Salvo dove diversamente indicato per i materiali presenti su guerrigliamarketing.it vale la Licenza Creative Common "Attribution - NonCommercial - ShareAlike 2.0": è libera la riproduzione (parziale o totale), purché non a scopi commerciali e a condizione che vengano indicati gli autori e, tramite link, il contesto originario.