Two recent videos showing stone throwing (literal and metaphorical) at the KONY 2012 video and the organisation behind it, Invisible Children.
Al Jazeera as it reports on the reaction of people in Northern Uganda as they watch KONY2012
Charlie Brooker takes a “Behind the Music” look at the Invisible Children charity. For people outside the UK, this is a segment from a weekly live British TV show “10 O’Clock” Live that looks at the big news stories of the week through the lens of comedy. Sort of like the Daily show if it was done differently and only once a week, but get my meaning.
What do a shoe and apparel billionaire and a college football team have to do with an indicted African War Criminal and a skyrocketing viral video? Everything.
In January, I cheered with old and new friends, long lost relatives and thousands of strangers as the Oregon Ducks took the field at the Rose Bowl. In February, it took eight hours before I encountered my first Ducks fan in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He had never seen a game live or on TV, but he knew the Ducks prevailed in Pasadena and that, “The helmets were the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen!” In March, I sat with a friend and colleague to watch a video about LRA leader and indicted war criminal, Joseph Kony that garnered 70 million views in four days. We cringed, we mocked, we attempted to hide welling emotions at crescendo moments. Then we took to Twitter and our inboxes to monitor the steady stream of support and criticism directed towards Invisible Children and Kony 2012.
The three events over three months made one reality clear to me: the “Attention Economy” has arrived with a thunder. As Jason Russel says in his hyperbolic viral hit, “The world will never be the same.”
Kony 2012 oversimplifies on issues of policy; it reinforces dangerous societal viewpoints of Africans and the regions problems; it promotes a “White Man’s Burden” hero culture; it makes outrageous and unsubstantiated claims about Invisible Children’s impact and the campaign’s potential. Yet, it is beautiful and brilliant. Anyone who cares about building movements of positive change should study this film, and their investigation should start with understanding the, “Attention Economy.”
If the Web and the Net can be viewed as spaces in which we will increasingly live our lives, the economic laws we will live under have to be natural to this new space. These laws turn out to be quite different from what the old economics teaches, or what rubrics such as “the information age” suggest. What counts most is what is most scarce now, namely attention. The attention economy brings with it its own kind of wealth, its own class divisions – stars vs. fans – and its own forms of property, all of which make it incompatible with the industrial-money-market based economy it bids fair to replace. Success will come to those who best accommodate to this new reality.
Those prescient words began scholar Michael H. Goldhaber’s, 1997 paper, The Attention Economy: The Natural Economy of the Net. At the same moment designers and marketers at Nike’s sprawling campus in Beaverton, Oregon were launching a 15 year experiment to test Goldhaber’s premise. The proving ground would not be the Internet, but a football field in the small city of Eugene, Oregon, home of the ferociously named Oregon Ducks.
The Attention Economy Gets Wings
Nike co-Founder and 1959 Oregon alum, Phil Knight had secured a deal with the school — he would provide a blank check to support the athletic department’s stadium and facility upgrades in exchange for Nike having carte blanche design control for the football teams uniforms and merchandise. While the university gained an indoor practice facility in the rainy state (though fans proclaim, “It Never Rains at Autzen Stadium!”), Nike Creative Director, Todd Van Horne, and top designers like Tinker Hatfield had the chance to create a football powerhouse through the principles of the Attention Economy, as brilliantly detailed by Michael Kruse last August in, “How Does Oregon Football Keep Winning? Is it the uniforms?“
They would create the Oregon football brand from scratch and reinvent it, not every season, but every game! The palette was wide open to the point that every Ducks ticket now carries a color notice for fans, “Oregon v USC: WEAR BLACK.” Players were adorned with silver wings and shiny helmets. Nike rescued a struggling paint and design company from the verge of collapse to create a whole new variety of paint made of glass beads and a shimmering proprietary coating dubbed, “LiquidMetal.”
The fans hated the new look, the sports writers skewered and the opponents mocked. It all went according to plan. “If you’re purposely trying to stir up the nest and increase visibility, you want them saying something,” Hatfield commented in an interview for SportsBusiness Journal. Viewership steadily increased, the team drastically improved and while the vitriol spewed at the ugliest uniforms in sports, teenagers across the country slid closer to their TV sets to get a look at what the Ducks were wearing that week. One of those kids named LaMicahel James from Texarkana, Texas would lead the team to three straight Bowl Championship Series appearances including a Rose Bowl victory. When the Heisman Trophy finalist was asked why he considered Oregon when so many better and local colleges wanted him, James responsed, “I loved the uniforms.”
Nike and the University of Oregon created an enduring brand through constant iteration and a great football team through packaging and adherence to the Attention Economy. Knight’s crew understood that eyeballs and discussion were more important than money or even product quality when it came to trouncing the competition in the shoe game. They wildly outbid all suitors in 1984, not for Michael Jordan’s endorsement, but for his attention — or, more aptly the attention he would bring to the shoes on his feet. While a roster that included the best basketball player of all-time suggested that attention could translate into success, the Ducks project allowed the Nike team to test attention currency with a struggling small-market team. And that’s the short story of how a team of silver-helmeted underdogs became football greats and an Oregon t-shirt found it’s way to an Ethiopian who knew nothing of the sport.
The Attention Economy Goes Viral
Now to the story of three young filmmakers and activists who discovered an under-reported war in Northern Uganda and spent the next nine years trying to gain the world’s most valuable currency: attention. They made 11 films about the the LRA’s brutal tactics of abducting children and turning them into child soldiers and sex slaves. They built a fledgling charity and methodically grew a movement. They gained powerful allies and enemies in the process. They used films, speaking engagements, marketing and social networks to procure attention for the issue. Then the band of activists directed that attention to Capital Hill, at times in partnership or at least in concert with the world’s largest NGOs.
This is how change happens and in the hyper-connected information economy, attention is the currency that unites people and prods politicians. Invisible Children can be accused of being naive on several points, but not on this. In fact, they are clearly far ahead of their peers. Jason Russel’s first-person account is brave and foolish — the two usually go hand-in-hand. It is not the story of Uganda’s internal strife, nor Central Africa’s bandits and poor governance, nor child soldiers, nor domestic politics. It is the story of three people whose lives intersected with tragic and wonderful consequences: a young father from California; a child from Uganda; a vicious Warlord. It is not policy dissertation or an activist’s power analysis. It is a well told story that asks the viewer to participate. The average age of those viewers according to YouTube: 13-24.
Kony 2012 has succeeded by being controversial. It will anger many and be dismissed by others, but it has deeply engaged youth. It has also succeeded by stirring criticism. As the Ducks discovered, dissent is not anathema to attention. In fact, dissent and disdain are vital ingredients. 4500 stories have been written about the film in the past 24 hours, which also means 4500 stories have been written about Kony and the LRA. The frenzy has given attention to countervailing voices like the stinging critique by Michael Diebert on Huffpo and eloquent response by Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumire that has been seen by 150,000 people and counting.
Like the Oregon-Nike experiment, Kony 2012 is a startling and stunning success in the Attention Age. We should spend less time denouncing that reality and more time understanding and shaping it. We can decry Kony 2012 for misinterpreting the current political reality of Uganda or wish equal attention was focused towards the ongoing massacre in Syria, the plight of women and the coming food crisis in the Sahel, but as my friend recently returned from West Africa commented, “That is not this guy’s fight.” Thoughtful critiques should continue, the more ink spilled the better. However, in the midst of our doubts, we should remember that there were millions of young people who had never heard of the International Criminal Court, Joseph Kony or even Uganda a mere four days ago. Russell’s passion ignited theirs. That should be celebrated. Not because they will, “Blanket the night” on April 20th, but because these youth will seek to prove Kony 2012′s grandiose claim that in a connected world they can and will stand up for each other. In a world of Bieber and Twilight they choose to turn their limited attention to human rights and justice. I for one welcome their limitless optimism.
We in the activist community can spend weeks tearing down Invisible Children’s effort. Or, we can choose to accept the new reality of the Attention Economy and get to work. Goldhaber forecasts in his paper, “If you have enough attention, you can get anything you want.” What do you want?
President Obama will answer questions live shortly (5:30 PM) in a Google+ Hangout, and simultaneously shown on YouTube. A small selection of the 228,000 people who submitted questions will join Obama in the hangout.
“I’ll walk into the Roosevelt Room across the hall from the Oval Office, take a seat, and kick-off the first-ever completely virtual town hall from the White House,” the president wrote in an email sent out by the White House last week. “This is going to be an exciting way to talk about the steps that we need to take together at this make-or-break moment for the middle class.”
The live video chat caps a week of social media engagement that the White House planned around the State of the Union. The president will answer video questions that have been submitted through YouTube and will invite some of the questioners to “hangout” and participate in the conversation, which will be live-streamed through the White House Google+ page.
This is a marriage of YouTube’s ongoing efforts to interview world leaders and engage their users, and a major push by Google to spur adoption of Google+ and set the social network apart for its “Hangout” feature. The rapid growth of Google+ and the strength of the Hangout system makes Google+ pages for organization a solid choice for live video chats that could replace mass conference calls many nonprofits rely upon.
The Social Good Summit is about to kick off in New York as State leaders gather for the UN General Assembly. This is the space for everyone else to discuss, share ideas and explore solutions to problems facing our world.
f=”http://mashable.com/” >Mashable, UN Foundation and 92Y has assembled an impressive list of speakers and are inviting bloggers, pundits and concerned citizens to join the event in person or canadian pharmacy viagra via live stream. Future:Media:Change will be there.
About 300.000 of you have seen the video of the news reader on the Fox News building in New York being hacked with messages not exactly of the type Fox usually fills the airways with. It”s shot in a shaky hand held spontaneous kind of way.
The maker of the video seems as shocked as the viewer about what they are watching. Watch it yourself:
It turns out – this was a pretty clever pre-campaign launch stunt by the campaign group MoveOn which on June 23rd, alongside former White House adviser Van Jones and The Roots, are launching what organizers are calling “Rebuild the Dream,” an effort to move the political conversation away from austerity and towards job creation. For more on the story of the hoax and the up-coming campaign check out <a generic viagra price href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/08/moveon-fox-news-the-roots_n_873054.html” target=”_blank”>Sam Stein”s blog in the Huffington Post.</a>
Clever use of online media – let”s hope they have some more tricks up their sleeves as the campaign get”s rolling properly. Something to look out for.Rich Text Area
About 300.000 of you have seen the video of the news reader on the Fox News building in New York being hacked with messages not exactly of the type Fox usually fills the airways with. It”s shot in a shaky hand held spontaneous kind of way. The maker of the video seems as shocked as the viewer about what they are watching. Watch it yourself:
It turns out – this was a pretty clever pre-campaign launch stunt by the campaign group MoveOn which on June 23rd, alongside former White House adviser Van Jones and The Roots, are launching what organizers are calling “Rebuild the Dream,” an effort to move the political conversation away from austerity and towards job creation. For more on the story of the hoax and the up-coming campaign check out Sam Stein”s blog in the Huffington Post.
Clever use of online media – let”s hope they have some more tricks up their sleeves as the campaign get”s rolling properly. Something to look out for.
Let’s get something straight: Julian Assange is a journalist. You can argue that he is not practicing journalism the way you think it should be practiced — releasing classified U.S. State Department documents — but he’s a journalist nonetheless. And for many of us he’s a hero.
I’m sick and tired of the politicians and political pundits treating this man as if he were a criminal. If WikiLeaks had existed in 2003 when George W. Bush was ginning up the war in Iraq, America might not be in the horrendous situation it is today, with our troops fighting in three countries (counting Pakistan) and the consequent cost in blood and dollars.
Jack Black is Nathan Spewman, “Professional Mis-Informant.” Spewman infiltrates dangerous groups like book clubs and yoga classes (“Satanic Cults”) to spread Right Wing lies. Now he is getting them young, disguised as a child with, “Enlarge-itis,” which” totally sucks,” and spreading his misinformation to a classroom of children.
– Video Below –
The teacher, America Ferrara, thinks something is out of place and Spewman’s days may be numbered. Our hero trains a new Mis-Informant, Bethany (6 year old, Caitlin Carmichael) who excels — the student has become the master.
Episode 1 is giggle worthy, but the second installment is brilliant as Bethany steals the chalk and video by demanding “Enough” be spelled with an “F.” In true Beckian fashion, she hops up to the chalkboard and shows that the “G-H” in the word is code for “God Haters,” or worse,”Good Health…Health Care!” Real Americans spell “Enough” with an “F” — for Freedom.
It’s amazing how even at her full 6 year old, fact-denying best, Bethany still does not sound half as nutty as Uncle Glenn. Sarcasm is an impressive tool against the Crazy Right. It puts their incoherent babbling on a mirror that projects right back at them. To put it another way, I love Jon Stewart and prefer the Daily Show, but Colbert may be doing a more vital and brilliant service for the country by deadpanning the Conservatives each night on his show.