This week I have been attending a course on the History of the British Empire at Christ Church College, Oxford University in England.
Christ Church is known for many things, but based on the lectures to the seemingly endless tour groups that pass through here, Christ Church College is also the model for Hogwarts, Harry Potter’s fictional school. The dining hall here is, in fact, a dead ringer of the dining hall in the movies.
While Potter is not on the agenda for the History of the Empire (we end with Suez in 1956) perhaps it should be. The book represents a seminal turning point in British literature, in the print business and most importantly, a lesson for the future of the TV and video business.
Today, the Harry Potter ‘franchise’ is valued at $15 billion, and still growing.
But the concept and the story were not the product of Hollywood or Disney or even an established writer.
The whole Harry Potter industry came out of the head of one woman- JK Rowling.
She was not a ‘professional’ writer when she started. In fact, she had never written a book before in her life. Her story is well known.
In short, by the time she was writing Harry Potter she was an unemployed single mother living on benefits having survived a bout of clinical depression.
And yet from that came this massive literary empire and world-changing series of books.
How is this possible?
It is possible because JK Rowling grew up in a world in which everyone was made ‘print literate’. That is, they were taught to read and write. The object of teaching everyone to write was not in the hopes that everyone in the world would become professional writers, but rather that in a print based world, literacy is essential not only for employment but to be able to express and share your ideas.
Today, we live in a world of video.
The average person spends 4.5 hours a day watching TV. They average person buys 1 book a year.
We are very much video driven, and as more and more screens come into play (iPhones, iPads), there is going to be more and more video
Hence, video literacy
And if you are a creative person, armed with video literacy, and you have an idea… any kind of idea.. even a school for wizards – then the next logical step is to ‘write it down’ (you see, we don’t even have a term for this yet).. in video.
Go make the content
The way JK Rowling ‘made’ the content in print.
Just make something.
Even if it is not perfect… yet.
Get it out of you.
We have been screening a lot of your videos lately and in all honesty every once in a while we come across one that has the seeds of a great idea.
It will take time, and it will take work, but I am absolutely convinced that there are JK Rowlings out there – video’s JK Rowlings, just waiting to be discovered.
JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book in a series of cafes in Edinburgh, Scotland.
With iPad2 (with video camera and iMovie), or laptops (I love the AIR), you can do the same.
If you flip through your cable channels you will see, as I do, that there is for the most part, nothing but endless hours of crap.
And there is no reason for this.
The world is filled with creative people.
And now we can educate them and unleash them to change the world.
Or at least make a few billion dollars along the way.
Then, you can build a lecture hall here and put your name on it also.
Michael Rosenblum is the author of iPhone Millionaire (McGraw Hill).