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Some of the Kony 2012 movement has used many methods to get their message across. One of the methods is transmedia organizing. The term “transmedia” was mentioned by Sasha Constanza-Chock. Sasha defines transmedia as a term “used to describe the work of professional producers who create cross-platform stories with participatory media components (Constanza-Chock 48). An example of Constanza-Chock uses an example of an organization using transmedia organization is when Gael Garcia Bernal and Marc Silver started Resist Now (Constanza-Chock 49). The Kony 2012 uses transmedia organizing as a method to get their message across. Looking at their website, they are links to other social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook. Their main video, which was published on YouTube also has ways to share that video along different social media platforms. So, people could access Kony 2012 media wherever and whenever. That connects with a different term and that is “media bridging.”
Media bridging is defined as taking information from one channel, reformatting it for another and pushing it out into broader circulation across new networks (Constanza-Chock 63). The Kony 2012 movement used media bridging to make their viral video. They took all the written information found on their website and created a new media to expose their rhetoric and get to more people. The platform they used was of course YouTube, which is a popular video sharing network where everybody and anybody can upload their videos, if they follow YouTube’s rules. Of course with any campaign, social activists want their message heard all over the place, in new media and old media locations.
Old media is newspapers, radios, and television, basically inventions before the dawn of the 21st century. New media is what people usually use today to get their information. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. are examples of new media sources. Even “alternative” new sources such as The Young Turks could be consider new media because they use YouTube to share the news with the public. New media also has the characteristic of being a source of “participatory web.” Coming out of Web 2.0, which allowed Internet users to make an impact on the World Wide Web, “participatory web” allowed people to contribute content such as make, create, and distribute certain types of digital media content such as memes, mash-ups, and video does (Nakamura 4). The combination of old and new media is known as “convergence culture.” Henry Jenkins, a faculty of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism coined the term “convergence culture” in his book, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide Jenkins defines convergence culture as “the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behavior of media audiences who will go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they want. Convergence is a word that manages to describe technological, industrial, cultural, and social changes depending on who’s speaking and what they think they are talking about” (Jenkins). An example of convergence culture happened during the 2008 presidential campaign. In the CNN Democratic presidential debate, Anderson Cooper told the audience at the venue and at home that they were going to try something new. Cooper was going to show YouTube videos of average citizens asking questions to the presidential candidates (Jenkins 271). This is a clear example of convergence culture because we have an old media source (CNN) and a new media source (YouTube) coming together to make people feel important and make them part of the political process by having their questions answered by presidential candidates.
The Kony 2012 campaign has used old media and new media in a combination. Jacob Russell appeared on the Nine News Media being interviewed by two journalists where Russell talks about the power of social media and how people are participating to try and change the atrocities being committed in Uganda. Russell in the interview also promotes his website and the technology that his organization is using to try and create change in Uganda. The British Broadcasting Channel (BBC) did a story looking at the Kony 2012 movement and the criticism that the movement is taking. It seems that the old media, such as news channels took the Kony 2012 campaign and expose it to people who perhaps are not connected to the Internet. It made people aware and some of them wanted to participate in this activism.
Participation is important when it comes to social activist movements. Charles Tilley and Lesley J. Woods co-authored a book titled, Social Movements 1768-2012. In the first chapter they coined a term, “WUNC.” WUNC is an acronym for “worthiness, unity, numbers, and commitment” (Tilley). Worthiness signifies that people dress nicely and to have self-respect for themselves. Unity is when people are on the same page, such as marching in ranks and wearing the same colors. Then there is numbers. This aspect of WUNC means how many people are part of the social movement. How many signatures can petitions get and how many people go to the marches and/or rallies? Then there is commitment. Are people committed with the movement? Are people willing to march when it is raining (Tilley)? These aspects of WUNC can be applied to the Kony 2012 campaign. I am going to focus on unity and commitment.
As I mentioned before, unity in a social movement shows that people that are part of that movement are on the same page. The example that Tilley and Woods uses is people wearing the same clothes when they are marching or having events. The Kony 2012 movement does have merchandise that shows off their symbol. Their symbol illustrates a elephant, the symbol of the Republican Party and a donkey, the symbol of the Democratic Party having their heads together in solidarity with the colors of the United States coloring the two figures. What the movement is trying to do here is to say that the issue of Joseph Kony is not a partisan issue. It is a bi-partisan issue that transcends party lines and if they want to get Kony, they have to end political gridlock and cooperate with each other. The unity aspect is also shown in the main video that was release to promote the movement (“Kony 2012”) also shows members wearing shirts with the symbol on them and also carrying posters with the symbol on them. This leads us to the numbers aspect of Tilley and Wood’s concept of WUNC.
Numbers is the amount of people shows their support of the movement. The “Kony 2012” video shows multiple people in rallies, posting posters on public property, etc. Numbers are needed to make a stronger impact to policymakers or leaders of an industry. What would authorities pay attention too? Five people with pickets in front of the Capitol Building, or tens of thousands of people who are marching and rallying with picket signs and a megaphone? Obviously, the tens of thousands of people marching are going to get the most attention. Russell’s main goal to make the Kony 2012 campaign successful is to bring attention to the existence of Joseph Kony. He proposes that on a specific date, people should cover buildings and walls with images of Joseph Kony so people can know who he is and make him a household name. Russell also encourages people to call their representatives and tell them to make the capture of Joseph Kony one of the priorities. This movement had potential, but succumbed to obscurity.
In the blog presentations, Ana V.H. and Arturo Sotelo used a video titled, “Why hashtag activism isn’t enough to change the world.” The video talks about the trend of viral videos and how they are forgotten rather quickly. The example he used was the “Kony 2012” video. The crux of the video’s argument is that social media campaigns usually fail is because they rely too much on appeal to emotion. These viral videos tend to invoke strong emotions which are only temporary and when people go out to the real world and they deal with their own problems, these viral videos are forgotten. In this case, that what happened to the Kony 2012 campaign. People were passionate about this movement. Even my stepmother bought a kit from their website to support the movement. But when it was time to act, people had other preoccupations and they forget the movement. Now in 2016, Kony 2012 is known as a failure because it did not lead to the capture of Joseph Kony who at this time is still at large.
In the end of the course, we learned how marginalized communities used social media to bring awareness to their oppression. Sasha Constanza-Chock focused on undocumented immigrant movement. The center of the undocumented movement was in California. Back in 2001, a California Assembly Bill (A.B. 540) allowed undocumented youth to have access to in-state tuition fees (Constanza-Chock 132). Another legislation that passed in California was known as S.B. 65, also known as the California Dream Act. This allows A.B. 540 students to access financial aid to attend a higher education institution (Constanza-Chock 132). Currently, there is a federal equivalent trying to pass through the legislation. These legislation passing was due to undocumented youth organizing through transmedia organizing. In Kony 2012, privileged people started a social media campaign to help a marginalized population in Uganda facing atrocities from a warlord. There was good intention people trying to making a change in Uganda, but unfortunately, they did fail. Not all social movements are important. If all social movements were successful, we would be living in a different place, but sadly, that is not the case.
"Digital protest, hashtag ethnography, and the racial politics of social media in the United States" By Arturo Sotelo
Hashtag Activism Isn't a Cop-Out: By Noah Burlastky. This article covered the importance of activism through social media. Although primarily concerned with twitter and the use of hashtag activism, this article highlights the social changes that have occurred and made it so social media can be an active component of social and political activism. This article looks at the particular case the Ferguson killing of teenager Michael Brown, and how this event led to numerous movements and social demonstrations for change.
Twitter was one of the primary forms of media that was used in passing on information of this event. The real problem with using twitter and other social media for activism is debate of how much actual change that it promotes. One of the biggest argument behind this so called Hashtag activism is that, "Thinkpieces present hashtag activism as vanity activism, in which narcissistic pronouncements substitute for actual engagement, and anger is leveraged at best for petty entertainment and at worst for coordinated harassment."
One of the largest issues that authors Yarimar Bonilla and Jonathan Rosas see with the hashtag as a tool for activism, is lack of actual impact that tends to occur. Although before you make any effective change anywhere you need to become aware of the problems, digital activism needs to take awareness and create it into action that. Looking specifically at the case of Michael Brown, these authors trace the role that social media played in creating awareness of Michael Browns death, but also other institutional problems like police brutality, racial profiling, and racist policing practices. Twitter was essential in the Movement looking to create justice for Brown and his family; this medium was the first that created decentralized awareness of the situation; "Within the hour, a post appeared on the Twitter social media platform stating, “I just saw someone die,” followed by a photograph taken from behind the beams of a small wooden balcony overlooking Canfield Drive, where Michael Brown’s lifeless body lay uncovered, hands alongside his head, face down on the asphalt." The immediate response by the public was so large that the the media coverage blew up almost over night, "during the initial week of protests, over 3.6 million posts appeared on Twitter documenting and reflecting on the emerging details surrounding Michael Brown’s death."
Because of twitter, a lot of coverage was brought towards Ferguson, but the authors make a huge point to underline how so much coverage, can also create problems for the activists. Hashtags do an important job within social media of creating a category of mainly interrelated things and offering a perspective on that hashtag. However, "hashtags can only ever offer a limited, partial, and filtered view of a social world," hashtags often lack the context needed to internalize the message they want to get across. In the digital age where information is processed at such a rapid pace, hashtags are used so much and so freely, that sometimes the intended meaning behind a hashtag looses meaning. In the case of Ferguson, I think that so much awareness during the first week served to slow the movement. Because #Ferguson was trending worldwide, the people who were physically present and taking part in demonstrations had a hard time relaying information to each other; the activist had to begin another hashtag in order to centralize the way that information was passed on. While this was going on, business and other companies looking for monetary compensation began using the hashtag to promote items and sell products. Digital activism loses credibility when the seriousness of the topics are reduced to Hashtags devoid of meaning.
Digital Activism/ Hashtag Activism in the most basic definition is as wikipedia tells us," is the use of electronic communication technologies such as social media, especially Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, e-mail, and podcasts for various forms of activism to enable faster communication by citizen movements and the delivery of local information to a large audience. Internet technologies are used for cause-related fundraising, community building, lobbying, and organizing. A digital activism campaign is 'an organized public effort, making collective claims on a target authority, in which civic initiators or supporters use digital media.' Research has started to address specifically how activist/advocacy groups in the U.S. and Canada are using social media to achieve digital activism objectives."
I think that twitter and hashtags do 2 important things for activism.
1. The hashtag provides a quick retrieval system for someone looking for updated news on the unfolding events.
- provides an easy and accessible way for people to communicate and become aware of events.
2. In addition to providing a filing system, hashtags simultaneously function semiotically by marking the intended significance.
- this is important because "hashtags have the intertextual potential to link a broad range of tweets on a given topic or disparate topics as part of an intertextual chain, regardless of whether, from a given perspective, these tweets have anything to do with one another"
- I think that this functions much like a like a scholastic search through an electronic journal, anything labeled with the hashtag will pop up even if there is not direct relevance
In general, I believe that hashtag activism can be very beneficial for any sort of movement. I think that the problem occurs within hashtag activism when it is reduced to a trend of popular culture. I think that the authors failed to mention the fact that humans all have a biological predisposition and look for acceptance. In a culture where ICT's have globalized the world, and made interconnectivity more immediate; unfortunately people's desire to be part of a movement is materialized in the form of hashtag activism that is often forgotten.
Although I love change.org, I think that this platform contributes to creating a false sense of accomplishment; people believe that by signing a petition they are creating change. Although petitions do play a role in changing laws, I think this role is minor in the large picture. People need to sign this petitions, but also dedicate their time to demonstrations and active particiaption of the social movements they care so much about.
1. One of the problems that occurs within Hashtag activism/Digital Activism is that even though the awareness and education of a topic may be stimulated, this subject/topic will most likely be forgotten as time. How can digital activism use the medium in a manner that the topics and causes can resonate with people? What have other organizations already done so that the public is internalizes the issues?
2. Are you part/ do you follow any Digital activist websites, blogs, or twitter pages? If so, how do you interact with these forms of media? Do you contribute to the discussions/creation of content?
If not, why do you not follow these sorts of mediums?
3. One of the great things about ICT's is the increased connectivity and accessibility for certain people. Do you think that decentralizing movements and making them geographically inclusive through ICT's increases total movement support, or does this impair the movement. How so?
This is the main webpage of the NGO that started the Kony 2012 movement, Invisible Children, Inc. This page tells people the origins of the NGO, their objectives, and their members. Jason Russell, one of the founders of the organization, created a thirty minute video synthesizing the content of the website into a visual media.
This thirty-minute video, which was directed by Jason Russell, tells people about the information found in their website in a visual media. Russell tells the story of the genesis of Invisible Children, Inc. and their objective to capture Joseph Kony. Russell's call to action was to share the video and to make Kony famous so he can become a household name. The video was a viral success, gaining 10 million views in a couple of days. However, this movement died out pretty quick.
Adam Taylor asks the question: Was #Kony 2012 a failure? Yes and no. The movement did have some momentum in the beginning. However, the movement did have critics. Critics of Invisible Children, Inc. noted that the organization oversimplify the issue of the LRA and they focused on too much film making instead of thinking of practical solutions to fix the problem in Uganda. However, they did amassed a huge following rather quickly and made this one of the most talked about moments of 2012. In that sense, they did succeed. They got their message out and got millions of people rallying behind. But in the long run, the movement just withered away.
Carol Jean Gallo, the author of the article, interviews a Ugandan human rights lawyer, Bwesigye bwa Mwesigire about the legacy of the Kony 2012 campaign. He does not seem to appreciate the movement as much as other people. His reasoning that he did not like the movement was because it made people of Uganda be victims. People around him decided to treat him differently, even though he was not affected by Kony's presence in anyway because he was from Southern Uganda, an area that Kony was not in. He mentions the death of nuance which is mentioned in the article above. People were oversimplifying the whole issue and people were not having real discussions anymore. People were just victimizing people from Uganda.
I mention this video in my body, but it is important to bring it up begin because this is something social movements could use to make their campaigns successful. As the video mentions, social movements that instill a strong emotional response die out quickly because emotions are only temporary. So as the video mentions, do not change the person, but change the context. In other words, make the movement convenient for them. Do not just rely on emotions to carry on a movement. It will wither and die, just like the Kony 2012 movement.