Our Readers' Opinions
February 11, 2014

Special presentation for ‘Film, Fine Arts and Fashion’

by Marc Erdrich -publisher Tue Feb 11, 2014

When the curators of this festival, “Film, Fine Arts and Fashion”, first approached me about speaking at this closing ceremony, I was at a loss as to how publishing fit into the framework of a program that was essentially about the visual and performing arts, with scant mention of the medium of print. But the more I thought about it, the more it occurred to me that I was showing my age.{{more}} As publisher of an online magazine, I should know better than anyone that publishing as a strictly print medium ended the day the first message was transmitted digitally over the Internet. Today, publishing encompasses all the arts: not only film, fine arts and fashion, but music, dance, literature, photography, radio, and television. Hobo Jungle publishes not only traditional forms of writing, but the spoken word, artwork, short film, music scores, dance scores, and any other creative medium worthy of reproduction for a wider audience.

Publishing, in its broadest sense, offers opportunities to young people unheard of by previous generations. Just think of some of the start up companies that have achieved worldwide recognition: Facebook, for example, is nothing more than an elaborate magazine, where everyone has their own page to publish anything they want; Word Press is an online tool that literally turns anyone into an online publisher; Lulu has turned the publishing world upside down by letting anyone create a book without spending a dime. Not only the companies themselves, but many users of these services have gone on to great financial success. And what about texting – that scourge of parents everywhere – isn’t that just another form of publishing?

The fact is, while doomsday theorists talk about the demise of the written word, young people are actually writing more, taking more pictures, composing more music, and designing more clothing than any previous generation. And while you can say that much of what is out there is of questionable quality, has there ever been a time when there was so much art to judge, so many new ideas to think about?

So, where am I going with all this and how does it relate to this festival of film, fine art and fashion? I would say that for young people the possibilities in this new environment are limitless. The new publishing is not just for the most talented among us. Today, virtually anyone can publish their thoughts and ideas. There are even web sites that provide opportunities to raise money just for trying them out. And those ideas aren’t limited to the abstract. They can come from tourism or agriculture or any other endeavour. Entrepreneurial spirits can create their own opportunities. But the key to success in this new environment is encouraging children to think outside the box, getting them to do what was once unthinkable: “wasting” time, collaborating with peers, using the new tools – texting even.

It’s time to accept the fact that today’s young people are smarter than we ever were. We can denigrate youth, we can complain about their lack of manners; but the reality is that if you put any two-year-old in front of a computer or smart phone, watch what happens. As teachers, educators, politicians and parents, we have no choice in this rapidly-changing world but to learn from the learners. And that means giving young people the opportunity to experiment with ideas. Scribbling on a computer screen may seem like a waste of time to many adults, but it is a well-known fact that the majority of technological innovations have come from game playing, not from so-called serious work.

Now, children need guidance. Too often, I hear us pronounce work that is clearly mediocre as “achieving a new level.” I see locally published books that should never have seen the light of day without substantial editing and some knowledge of layout and design. I see students asking hundreds of dollars for artwork that is often amateurish at best; dance and theatre performances that show a lack of commitment and hard work that is necessary to achieve greatness. It is incumbent upon professionals in all walks of life to demand more of young people, while encouraging them to expand their horizons. Not an easy task, but it can be done. And it can be done by leading by example.

To that end, Hobo Jungle will, in the weeks ahead, offer a free seminar for adults with an interest in publishing their work. We will talk about the free options, as well as the paid options for expressing oneself in this new environment, and how to do it well, so that young people can look with respect at the work of their elders and strive for new levels of achievement in their own work. For only by striving to do our own best will we create a generation that seeks to surpass us in the future.