In 891, Formosus was elected Pope; in 896, he died.

He was followed by Pope Stephen VI, who was not a fan of his.

In fact, he was so not a fan that he accused Formosus of acceding to the Papacy illegally.

But accusing Formosus’ memory wasn’t enough for Pope Stephen.

He needed the world to know, so he had Formosus’ corpse put on trial.

The corpse was propped up in the dock, accused and cross-questioned.

Obviously the corpse didn’t defend itself very well, it was convicted and three fingers, on the hand that Formosus had used for blessings, were amputated.

The corpse was thrown into the river Tiber, but a little way downstream it washed ashore.This was taken as an omen, Pope Stephen VI was deposed, arrested and thrown into prison, where he was strangled.

Pope Formosus was reinstated and formally reinterred.

But the next Pope was Segius III, and he overturned the reinstatement of Pope Formosus andreinstated his conviction.

Now, we may think, who cares, why does any of that matter?

Isn’t what’s going on in the real world more important than what’s going on in some imaginary, theoretical, pretend-world?

It all makes about as much sense as the fuss about the metaverse.

From all the recent hype, you may believe we are shortly going to leave our earthly bodies behind and float about in a virtual reality universe – a ‘meta’ verse.

What actually happened is Mark Zuckerberg decided, to keep his empire growing, he neededto expand beyond Facebook, beyond the internet.

He needed us to believe there’s an entire virtual world outside the physical world.

This world will be everything your mind can imagine, in fact it will be a universe of the mind. Well yes, in the words of Mandy Rice-Davies, he would say that wouldn’t he?

He wouldn’t sell this as way to collect new data: eye-tracking, facial-expressions, etc.

My advice is before we listen to any predictions, we should check out who’s making them.

Just see if they are an objective, unbiased opinion based on facts, or if they are made by someone who gains a lot by making us believe them.

Someone who is, oh I don’t know, Head of Media Innovations say, at a media company or ad agency where they need clients to spend lots more money.

Just think back to any of the last game-changers which, we were told, would mean the deathof advertising. Like QR codes, or blockchain.

Or, remember all the headlines in the marketing press: HOW POKEMON GO WILLCOMPLETELY REVOLUTIONISE YOUR MARKETING STRATEGY.

Of course these people will sell you the latest marketing gimmick, that’s their job.

But a new thing happening doesn’t mean the death of everything else.

It just means some people will do it and some people won’t.

When architects first began designing skyscrapers they believed everyone would soon be living in skyscrapers, no one would live in houses anymore.

The truth is, some people live in skyscrapers, some people live in houses.

There needs to be room in our thinking for both kinds.

Remember how digital was going to be the death of advertising?

That didn’t happen either, it simply became another branch of advertising.

But calm, rational thinking doesn’t sell papers.

We need a level of hysteria to make people frightened of missing out.

That’s why you’ll never see a headline that says: NOTHING MUCH HAPPENED TODAY, because it doesn’t sell papers.

There’s an old saying: “Never ask a barber whether you need a haircut”.