danah boyd has an interesting analysis of the Kony 2012 video phenomenon that a) went viral and b) is basically disseminating an inaccurate message as to the realities in Uganda at the moment. (See Ethan Zuckerman’s post for a full deconstruction of the video.) She raises a number of points about the spread of the video, from the networks that Invisible Children already had in place, to the motivations of youth for sharing out the link, the role of celebrities, and the inherent race and privilege undertones.
But for me, this was the paragraph that really jumped out:
The stories that Invisible Children create in their media put children at the front and center of them. And, indeed, as Neta Kliger-Vilenchik and Henry Jenkins explain, youth are drawn to this type of storytelling. Watch Kony 2012 from the perspective of a teenager or college student. Here is a father explaining to a small child what’s happening in Africa. If you’re a teen, you see this and realize that you too can explain to others what’s going on. The film is powerful, but it also models how to spread information. The most important thing that the audience gets from the film is that they are encouraged to spread the gospel. And then they are given tools for doing that. Invisible Children makes it very easy to share their videos, republish their messages on Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr, and “like” them everywhere. But they go beyond that; they also provide infrastructure to increase others’ attention. [Emphasis mine.]
So, to my point. Not that the Kony issue isn’t important. And not that the audiences are the same. But I’m wondering if there isn’t an Education 2012 that’s itching to be made, one that puts children front and center, one that is powerful but also models how to spread the gospel. And I’m not talking about Waiting for Superman or Race to Nowhere, though at least the latter makes some inroads into the conversation. I’m talking about a movie that paints a compelling picture of what learning looks like in a networked world, how literacy changes, and how the value of school must change away from test prep to authentic, real world participation through inquiry and design. That nothing less is adequately preparing our kids for the realities around the bend.
You can’t look at the Kony video and not be amazed regardless of the problems with it. The compelling case is clear, and it’s an easier case to articulate than the one we’re trying to frame in our networks and communities. But it has to make you wonder…couldn’t we script and produce something like that?