The focus of this project is no longer solely, or even largely KONY2012. While it was and continues to be an impressive phenomenon it has become, in my mind at least, part of a larger trend of which it is only a single case study. The past two years have seen entire segments of various nations rise up, some in protest, some through elections leading to dramatic shifts in government, and others by means of the strike.
Or, perhaps, events such as these are not so atypical as they appear, but only coming to light in far greater numbers due to the transparency and immediacy of the internet and the rise of alternative media.
I would like to argue that many social movements in general are due to the growing ease with which information can be disseminated (and do so on a global scale, connecting disparate groups and causes) and the digital media that is now widespread.
In the US for example, inequality was barely addressed as an issue of public concern outside of progressive and academic circles. Today we see the New York Times Online “Front Page” publishing roundtable talks and discussions about the issue. A year ago Occupy was just a small group working against Wall St. Now we find the nomenclature of their movement being referenced in popular culture (TV etc.) as well as the mainstream press. With growing rapidity, it seems, the ‘dirty little secrets’ of many societies are being put in the spotlight, arousing public discontent.
Granted, this shift may never have occurred had the economy not tanked four years ago. Were hundreds of millions or more not directly affected by the depression through job loss, government austerity measures, or huge losses in capital, it is entirely possible that many of the most pressing issues of this year would never have occurred.
But that is not what is of importance here.
What is of importance is that largely youth and worker driven movements around the world have been making headlines, assembling huge crowds, and gaining access to a broader audience in ways that, I argue, have not existed–or at least have not existed at a time when social pressures were high enough to lead to different forms of collective action–and that timeless, spaceless dissemination of information has now become a critical part of the politics of social change. In other words, organizers have taken advantage of new digital technologies to circumvent traditional channels for knowledge (i.e. mainstream media), and that this has been a positive development for both democracy and supranational humanistic self-identification among younger people.
The other argument in my mind, and the one I really hope to find support for in my research is a little less straight forward but in the vein with much of the research already done on the Arab Spring. Put simply, I would like to demonstrate a causal relationship between the rise of digital and social media, and the changes described above in which the latter may not have come to be without the former, and that movements did not simply pick up digital tools and turn them to their advantage but actually spawned from the organic growth of spreading ideas via digital media. In terms of the youth this applies especially to social media.
So that is sort of where my head is at. I no longer intend to focus my efforts on analyzing the circumstances surrounding Uganda and Kony that led to the Invisible Children video. I do not think that it will aid me in making sense of Kony2012 AS PART OF A THE LARGER TREND that is really at the core of my questions about what I am seeing take place in the world and on my own computer.
No, the focus has shifted. 2012socialexperiment is no longer just about the Kony video, but about broader aspects of the year 2012 itself.
Feedback would be great, all. Please comment if you have any thoughts.