Meet Holger Volland! The Vice President and the Executive Board Member of the Frankfurter Buchmesse; world’s oldest and most prestigious book fair with over 300.000 visitors and 7000 exhibitors from over 100 countries within only 4 days. At the Sonophilia Winter Retreat, he will talk about his newest book “The Creative Power of Machines”, and uniting the business of publishing, innovation and creativity.
We’re looking forward!
Sonophilia: You are one of the most innovative minds in a business characterized by strong ties to tradition, and you’ve just established a future oriented format at the Frankfurt Book Fair; the Arts+. What was your motivation to create this new event?
Holger Volland: With THE ARTS+ we want to build bridges between business, technology, culture and politics. Why? Because innovation in these four sectors is happening at different speeds and with completely different mindsets. ARTS+ as an incubator for cultural innovation can offer a network, a market place and a discussion forum where these four different forces get to know each other and start business conversations.
A second reason is more personal: My mom was a bookseller and my dad a computer specialist. I was raised with a deep love for culture, the mind-blowing qualities of books and on the other hand the excitement for digital change and the endless opportunities of networks. With THE ARTS+ both come beautifully together: the arts and the machines.
Sonophilia: You’re at the heart of the book business. A very contraverse topic but, what is your opinion on the future of print?
Holger Volland: I absolutely believe in print. And i believe in digital at the same time. People love to read novels on paper, they buy very expensive and elaborate art or design books and we just recently learned that students can digest and remember educational content better when they use a print book compared to digital versions.
On the other hand, there is a lot of information out there that doesn’t need the printed form any more: Think of dictionaries, scientific papers, some professional books, the happy little dime novels you want to read on the beach. For those occasions, digital formats just might be the more convenient option.
What I am really worried about, though, is the shrinking ability to read at all. If we don’t act (and we should!) then the important cultural skill of reading will be gone one day soon. This would change not only the abilities of our personal brains but also our society as a whole.
Sonophilia: You not only have great knowledge of the publishing business but also have just written a book yourself. Can you tell us what your book is about?
Holger Volland: My book is called „Die kreative Macht der Maschinen“ (the creative power of machines). It deals with the influence of artificial intelligence on our culture and creative skills. How does it affect humans when machines know how to compose music like Bach, paint like Rembrandt or write like Murakami?
I believe that we can and should not stop these developments. They are exciting. But we should have a very close look at the effects of these technologies on our personal lives as well as on society. Many topics are quite disturbing. For example, how much companies owning these A.I. are already manipulating us. In my book I show many examples of recent and future tech developments and explain how they are already influencing our lives.