Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Producer's Mind

The idea of production is, in its most basic form, the refining of raw materials into a valuable end product. The materials can be anything from metals to crops, from labor to vision. Whether the process is the engineering and manufacturing of a product, or the splitting of large bulk orders into progressively smaller lots, that process's goal is to refine a profitable end product and get it into the hands of the end consumer.

Therefore, a successful producer must be able to manage input and output. He must know where he is in the chain of production, what his immediate customer wants, and what the end consumer wants. He must then understand the "raw" material which he is buying, its cost and value. He must be aware of the business politics of his vendors, and to what degree they can be trusted. Basically, to be a success, he must be a gatekeeper of value.

By contrast, a person who primarily fills the role of a consumer only has the need to identify value on one end of the equation. That is, he is "free" to buy what he needs at a price up to what he has or can get through credit. When he uses up his purchase, he must either buy more, or go without. It is a reactionary lifestyle, mostly dependent upon the fluctuations of the larger economy.

The written word is no different. A person who reads to simply pass the time, consumes the words with no potential for output. Mass fiction is little more than a time waster, as it leads to no exploration or personal discovery. It cannot spark conversation of any substance, and it does little to motivate the reader toward any action but turning the page.

A person who reads with a writer's mind (or intakes any media which he also creates), is inclined to seek value in the written word. He hopes to extract lessons, start discussions, and generally be inspired to break his writer's blocks. The greater he wishes his finished products to be, the greater the products he wishes to digest. If he is part of a collaborative effort, he is willing to let his own contribution be overruled by a better idea.

If we want for people to intake better information, it is a waste of our efforts to attempt to get everyone to digest the greatest works. There are those who already do read the Great Books, simply because they know the value in them, even if they have no specific outlet. Some understand the concept, and even read literature from time to time, but would be more inclined to dive into more challenging material if they saw a specific result. Others need a little more encouragement. They need media that is in between what appears to be the daunting challenge of Great Books, and what is the simple ease of genre-based "page turners" and mind-numbing TV.

Make no mistake, there is a need for the thinking-man's media. Even if it comes in the form of "easy" TV and entertaining trade paperbacks. We need people to produce this content, not seek to tear the system down.

"Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain...and most fools do." - Dale Carnegie

How to Read a Book. By Mortimer J. Adler, founder of the Great Books of the Western World

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