How to Stop a World on Fire!

If you see/read nothing else from my posts addressing Tactical Media, please watch this video of anthropologist Michael Wesch’s 2010 TED Talk  – “From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able.”  Wesch examines digital online culture and in this video looks at YouTube in particular.  Yes, even with a small minority of “content creators” in the larger YouTube community, people can collaborate with a large engaged “audience.”  YouTube avails a “call and response” model of communication and ACTION.  (It’s 18 mins and very good, and, dare I say, enjoyable and inspirational.)

LINK to VIDEO: Michael Wesch “From Knowledgeable To Knowledge-Able”

Try to watch at least through the response/counter ad by Greenpeace (it ends at around 11 mins).  It responds to the (earlier) Dove ad … It’s really worth it!

This counter ad shows that even if institutional or commercial entities are using YouTube to distribute their advertising messages, there are also tactical methods being deployed through the same structured platform, albeit by another organization, but not one with commercial interest, instead one with social and political interests represented by a collectivist, membership based model.

Then right after these ads, Wesch addresses a “feel-good” online collaborative chorus… ok so it appears banal at first… yup, this is the global consciousness that Roy Ascott and other networked artists really celebrated back in the early 1980’s…  But one minute after introducing the “Youtube Chorus,” this is where things get really interesting and shift from the previous 1980’s model of the telematic network and things take a tactical turn where the technological network can affect real life… Wesch describes on the ground, real world cellphone users, turned citizen reports, who contribute information in response to a real world crisis…  this information is then mapped and fed back to the network… and in turn, real world action can take place.

Importantly, this video also addresses how academic institutions are teaching students about new media/digital media and how inadequate this approach seems to be.  Wesch recognizes the importance of “critical thinking” especially to be able to filter the onslaught of (tv) media. However, he also says “critical thinking” is not enough in this new media landscape.  He posits that instead of teaching new media issues like a list of things to memorize, that the academic (and world) community might be better served if it tried to teach its students how to confront, to use and to create the ideas employed in the new media world in which they are, let’s be honest, already fully engaged.  His hope is that educators and institutions might attempt new approaches that help students use their voices and that relate to and engage with our new media world, and not just have students memorize a list of information to regurgitate for tests.

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