“a media to look at rather than to read”

This article from Politico on Robert D’Agostino, the man behind the website Dagospia, is an interesting read on both Italian media/politics and the general mental landscape of the internet. I was struck by a phrase from the journalist Filippo Cecarelli, quoted in the article:

Ceccarelli, the La Repubblica journalist, credits Dagospia’s success to two factors. D’Agostino’s was one of the first media outlets in Italy to grasp the potential of the web. And it was the first to understand that the web was a post-ideological visual space.

“Dagospia is a media to look [at] rather than to read,” said Ceccarelli, who wrote the foreword to one of D’Agostino’s books.

It is something of a commonplace to describe the Internet as a medium that privileges the visual over the written (although I recall in the early days of the mass availability of the internet pieces claiming we were entering a new epistolary golden age) – but something about this passage (and possibly the context, with the description of D’Agostino’s eclectically decorated apartment and the febrile world of Italian politics) resonated. It certainly would have appealed to Neil Postman with his concern with how we were amusing ourselves to death via media ideal for entertainment rather than reflection

I was also struck by a quote from D’Agostino himself:

In D’Agostino’s view, Italy is run by “powerful bureaucrats” who direct elected politicians and ministers from behind the scenes. His bottom line is that Italy has always been and remains a feudal country.

“In a serious country Dagospia would not exist,” said D’Agostino in an interview in his Roman mansion. “But in Italy news gets buried.”

I recall hearing Italians self-deprecatingly observe that other nations were “serious”, not them. I suspect this may be a universal perception – that other nations Do Things Better.

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