Friday, March 09, 2012


I have been impressed with the viral sensation of the Kony 2012 video by Invisible Children. Over 40 million views in just a few days. It is worth a watch, it is well done.

The video has caused a bit of controversy related to full disclosure of Kony's whereabouts these days (not Uganda but like the Central African Republic), and the funding transparency of Invisible Children. There is also another major issue of the fact that Uganda's president has some dictatorial tendencies.  And I am very curious of what transpires when these "Stop Kony" supporters realize how awfully gays in Uganda are persecuted.

But I will focus on the bigger picture at the moment. I think Invisible Children has done a wonderful public diplomacy campaign to educate global citizenry on an issue that until a few days ago drew a blank. I commend IC for their PD efforts and use of new mediums to conduct such campaigns.  I also think the groups kicking up a fuss (academics, other ngos, etc) are missing the point, or jealous, or both.

This nonstate actor is doing a tremendous job trying to craft new policy via new mediums. Call it the YouTube Effect. IC is being a proverbial fast learner to the new world of PD...and so were we at Public Diplomacy Magazine. When I was a Sr. Editor on Public Diplomacy Magazine, the issue I helped direct was on public diplomacy and human rights, specifically how nonstate actors pursue human rights through public diplomacy. One of our case study contributors was Invisible Children, chosen because we had a real sense that they understood the new paradigm.  


John Brown said...

Paul, To me, despite the tragic events it so superficially deals with, this video (how about calling it Corny 2012) seems like a not very-subtle ad for facebook. This social medium's putative power to "mobilize," as reconstructed by the video, is no doubt intended to be sweet music to potential advertisers. Forgive my cynicism.

Paul Rockower said...

Hi John,
Your cynicism is forgiven because it isn't without warrant. I too have misgivings, but in different places. But consider this medium's power to educate, however imperfectly. Public diplomacy is a ultimately a form of education, and Invisible Children did this marvelously. 50 million people, who could knew little about this issue now have some awareness. It is too soon yet to tell what comes out it, be it slacktivism or some real change. But this is education via the connectivity of a medium is power, and that impresses me.