The Stone monolith that today stands in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome, was carved in Egypt 4000 years ago. In the year 37 AD, the emperor Caligula ordered that it be moved to Rome. This was a truly ambitious engineering challenge at the time, as well as proof of the Roman Empire’s power.
Almost 1,150 years later, due to natural historical developments, it was necessary to move it to its present location. Although only a few hundred meters distant, this too necessitated incredible effort and ingenuity and was almost an impossible task given the technology and resources available in Rome in 1586.
Domenico Fontana, the chief engineer, spent months planning the operation. He experimented with mechanisms of all kinds; pulleys, ropes, levers, as well as tools he himself designed. He calculated that 75 animals and 750 people would be needed to get the job done. The Aswan marble monolith weighed over 350 tons and could fracture during transport, as well as destroy anything it might encounter in its path.
The risks were so great that –under penalty of death– speaking was forbidden to both the workers and the onlookers during the undertaking. The strain was so great that, at one point, the hemp ropes began smoking –the friction was such that they began to burn. Nobody dared to sound the alarm because in doing so they would be risking their own heads.
Just one man -a seaman- understood what was happening, and knew how to resolve the problem. If water were applied to the hemp, it would contract, be strengthened, and return to its normal temperature; thus allowing for the completion of the project. And so the seaman urgently yelled out:
“Throw water onto the ropes!” —“Aqua alle funi!” –.
Captain Giovanni Bresca not only did not lose his life, but also saved the lives of many others, and received numerous awards (reference 1).
Nowadays, media are experiencing a similar situation, not only in Spain, but also in a large part of the so-called Western World.
Last week, newscasts and newspapers loudly proclaimed that, during 2010, “more Spanish films than ever” (!) had been projected in Spanish cinemas. Nevertheless, this week we were further informed that during that same year there had been 9% fewer spectators visiting movie theaters in Madrid (reference 2).
MacLuhan believed that “the medium is the message”, because the heady development of the technology by which content is transmitted, dazzles and attracts us in and of itself –like a volcano in full eruption. However, the frenetic technological developmental race is coming to an end; in addition, it has proven to be extraordinarily costly to both the media and society –very much like a volcano’s eruption, too.
The content which the powers that be allow us to transmit is ever more removed from what our societies would naturally and spontaneously consume: The “ropes” are burning; and it appears that few in the media -traditional, electronic or digital- are prepared to take the risks involved in yelling out “Throw water onto the ropes!” The majority are afraid to speak out and draw attention to the fact that something is going terribly wrong.
This is the concern which incited the birth of this internet site. Here, those in media may speak out regarding this ever-worsening situation; and may share stories, information and experiences which might help save their professions. In the “For media people” section, we have gathered those of our articles that may prove more useful to them.
As we already said on another occasion: Each nation needs media; but media, without their people, cannot survive…
Anecdote taken from “Domenico Fontana”, entry, Wikipedia, October, 14th, 2011
(from where the attached image was taken, in the understanding that Wikipedia’s contents are offered under a Creative Commons licence);
and “Aqua alle funi”, by Marcos Enoc Silva Antonio, Heraldos Magazine,
# 99 [October, 2011], pages 50 and 51–.
Informe sobre la Situación Económica y Social de los Madrileños, ápud Qué, October, 13th, 2011, page 4.