The first day of the rest of my thesis, an adventure into academia and madness.

11 Mar

So, I have a thesis proposal due in like four days that I’ll be spending a year writing.  I had everything all planned out…”Economic globalization, the Neoliberal revolution, and the American worker”.  A fun little adventure into describing an era, which in many ways, has proven to be pretty lousy for the past 30 years or so.  Then came the KONY 2012 video.  With a base in sociology, this incredibly sudden, youth driven global movement caught my eye as something far more interesting…I guess my initial argument is that we’ve seen something unprecedented in the past week, and that it may be a step towards understanding how people may start to organize in the future and where that could take us, particularly in terms of collective action (which will be demonstrated by the KONY movement around the globe on 4/20 according to Invisible Children). Analyzed for a while, watching the movement develop as a global humanitarian/political force may also say a great deal about changes in self-identification between the analog and digital generations, and where they place themselves in the world…I’ve also got a half assed theoretic framework in which to base where I’m coming from the issue in it’s totality.

In the last two days I’ve grown so interested that I started to analyze the numerical, demographic, and geographic structure of the video’s views on Youtube.  I then started comparing it to other videos…pop singers/culture from around the world; various political issues; international sports; the all-time top hits on Youtube; videos with about the same number of hits as KONY (as of this morning); video criticisms of the KONY documentary; other activism related videos; other videos that have been introduced in the past week and received large audiences; and videos that have been around for a long time but have had few hits (in order to try and understand how the mapping process works, which I’m still trying to understand, but, after seeing videos stats that have been flatlined for years and still high density in certain countries, leads me to believe that the KONY map is indeed accurate).  I still have about 20 to do before the pattern really becomes clear, but this is the first set of data I’ve put together in the past 24 hours.  The one’s I haven’t yet put up reinforce the pattern I discern even more clearly, covers more categories, time frames, youth hits, and gives one a pretty good idea what the charts (particularly the map) say about the global spread (or lack thereof) of knowledge, and that nothing except maybe the official song for FIFA 2010 comes anywhere close.

Youtube Video Comparisons (more coming soon)

Good Idea/Bad Idea?

I’m looking for feedback as to whether anyone else sees the same pattern I do which makes the KONY 2012 video unique and important, as well as questions and criticisms of this very crude analysis.  It’ll take less than five minutes to run through the charts, and even the shortest of feedback would be great.

AND PLEASE! If you think people in your network would find this the least bit interesting please SHARE IT on Facebook and Twitter.  If I can get just TWENTY people to share this and they each have networks of 200-1000 (that contain at least a few people who might be interested in this) I might be able to get enough perspectives on the idea, or at least a larger set of data on how this (my) information does or does not get noticed by anybody.  Thank you!

I’ll update ASAP (so many crazy things have happened this week that it’s taking a bit to digest) with larger a better organized comparison chart, data on social networking among the youth as a source of news, as well as continuing to make sense of a seemingly anomalous global dissemination of information from the grassroots level, rather than governments or news corporations.


9 Responses to “The first day of the rest of my thesis, an adventure into academia and madness.”

  1. Breana March 15, 2012 at 9:35 PM #

    Hey Julian,

    I agree, the Kony youtube video is a unique and an interesting sociological phenomenon. I have been tossing it around in my head for the past week or so, but have failed to really understand its impact and origin.
    I would like to share my story- I hope that this is the appropriate forum. I was at a conference in DC my junior year at Geneseo and met John Prendergast (actually he only signed my complementary copy of “Not on Our Watch” a book he wrote with Don Cheadle on African genocide). The book had an immediate impact on my life, as I would assume it did on the hundreds of other student leaders. The book was mainly based on the genocide in Darfur, but included an extensive discussion on the LRA and Kony.
    My question is how could it be that 5 years ago an activist and popular movie star could come out with a book, tour the US educating student leaders and it has less of an impact than a youtube video (that includes a man discussing the topic with his practically infant son)? Is the impact imbalance due to 20 years of groundwork- social normalizing- so that now the public is ready to embrace a youtube video? Or is it because new social media is that powerful? If it is the latter, then why is that youtube is more influential than the NY times (online)? (When I say this, I am thinking about John Stewart’s “My Little Kony” skit, where his news correspondent Jessica was immediately influenced by the Kony video, but didn’t have a clue about the issues in Syria?!). Finally, in my viral realm, there has been a lot of back lash against the Kony video. Most of it centered on Invisible Children as supporting the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and other military intervention that has been similarly accused of rape and looting, as well as exaggerating the Kony horrors and unfairly presenting the relevant issues. My question here is why is why is that Invisible Children has been perceived to be so credible over other noteworthy advocates?

    I’m excited to see what you come up with. Good luck with your proposal!

  2. Steve March 12, 2012 at 3:05 AM #


    This is refreshing. I have (although at times I have regrets) promised to post only KONY related videos on facebook until he is found. I’m starting to think that might not be a good idea, but your blog has given me an objective viewpoint on the subject. One video I watched on youtube discussed how the KONY video has exposed the vastness of the internet’s base demographic. It’s truly fascinating to see that a concept that was once unmeasurable, collective consciousness, is now a real thing with charts and graphs. We young people are all plugged in, for better or for worse, hopefully the former. We were all manipulated emotionally, but I still think that the movement is worth something. I mean it got me to know that there is a list of international criminals and that the number one guy is now on the run. I’ve received a lot of criticism from friends for my decision, probably bc they think I’m being duped. In a way, I am because I was emotionally manipulated, but how can my heart be wrong? What is your take on this or are you remaining clinical on this one? Wonderful if you are, for the sake of your thesis.


    • 2012socialexperiment March 12, 2012 at 6:08 PM #

      Thanks Flip!

      What was the name of that video? I think it would be of use to me and my overall idea.

  3. MM March 11, 2012 at 11:59 AM #

    An outstanding idea and initiative. What a fantastic complement to an interesting thesis.

    Good luck and keep us posted!

  4. Dan Snyder March 11, 2012 at 11:48 AM #

    Your youtube data are definitely intriguing. I had never thought of what a large, and growing, proportion of users will be from Russia. However, the one thing I noticed that seems off is that under the Audience sub-heading almost all of the videos are most popular with the group “Female Age 13-17.” Is this a statistical error or are just a disproportionate number of teenagers on the internet?

    • 2012socialexperiment March 11, 2012 at 1:04 PM #

      Hi Dan,

      I’m a Western New Yorker myself! Did my undergrad at SUNY Geneseo. Its also funny that you mentioned Russia as I’m writing a paper on Russian censorship under Putin… You are correct about the growth but from what I can tell it will be fairly slow. At the moment only about 20% of the population have access to it, roughly 30,000,000 of a total 150,000,000 Russian souls. (Most of those 30,000,000 are living in the areas directly surrounding Moscow), and of that only about 20% use it for news (despite the internet being the one form of media that Putin has left relatively free) meaning that right now only about 5% of Russians get their news from the internet… and with its vast geography (Russia is as large as the US and Canada put together but mostly in semi-arctic terrain that makes it difficult to survive… Now to answer your question–

      This site provides statistics showing how incredibly pervasive the internet has become for youth (at least in the US):

      and this shows the disproportionally high number of youth who get their news via the internet as compared to the general population:

      and this just gives you a good overview of just how much action is taking place on facebook at any given time, as well as pointing out the fact that 70 percent of facebook and youtube views take place outside the US:

      Add to this that , with the exception of the baby boomers (who statistically are less likely to use the internet, particularly for news) youth below 20 are our largest demographic group, they will have a great deal of strength when it comes to statistics. I’ve also seen stats that women use facebook considerably more than men, and a bit more than men on youtube, though gender in no way implies age.

      Another factor may be that many of the videos I chose to analyze first were from popular culture, albeit from around the world. If there is any group in this world that loves any one thing, it’s teeny-boppers and pop music. I had to live through MTV’s Total Request Live…I’ve seen people fight over food with more civility than some fourteen year old girls behind a window a cute guy is standing in. The charts that dealt with more politically minded issues tended to have an older and predominantly male representation (with the striking exception of KONY of course). In the next few days I hope to update that document so that I’m able to show the details from a variety of places and perspectives, and hopefully isolate why it comes up so frequently, because so far I cannot find any conclusive evidence that they simply form a disproportionate number of viewers. Based on what I know, and growing up at the dawn of the digital age, I do feel myself leaning in the direction that the stats are legitimate. Tracking other videos I saw certain groups rise and fall and sometimes come off of the list altogether so I know that there is some method to their magic, but it’s going to take more time to sort that stuff out for certain…I’m only in two days so far so I haven’t got everything worked out by any means.

  5. Joel Stephens March 11, 2012 at 1:54 AM #


    I’m excited to see what you’ve brought up here. If I’m on the same level of understanding, what you’re looking to interpret is whether KONY was just another viral video based simply on the people that chose to view, or whether it’s independent of those demographics, proving that a movement could in fact be sincere with the message truly felt through the ranks of all people. Amazing idea and flawless execution. I’d be more than happy to examine in an attempt to come to a more concrete and telling conclusion, as you may assume I’m not one to make a yes or no decision, rather question each side independently. : )

    I’ll probably start now and update in a short while after a quick once over.

    – Joel

  6. wwhitaker March 11, 2012 at 4:51 AM #

    Good luck, man!

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