YouTube Tells Me The Earth Is Flat

Posted July 22, 2019
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Yesterday, Lisa and I wrapped up our coures at Oxford University - Using Modern Media For The Common Good.

Ironically, and i a case of what I would call perfect timing, The BBC ran a story entitled: Flat Earth: How Did YouTube Help Spread A Conspiracy Theory.

Ironically, both of these things come from the same place - the rather remarkable power of the 'new media'.

The question is, what do you want to do with it?

FIrst, let's get to Flat Earth

Not so long ago, only a total idiot would have believed that the earth is flat. 

Today, while not exacly mainstream, there seem to be a whole lot more total idiots in the world. They join growing ranks of conspiracy theorists who believe wholeheartedly that the moon landing in 1969 never happened - that it was all filed by Stanley Kurbrick on an Arizona site.  They join countless others who are sure that the World Trade Center bombing was carried out by the US government. They join countless others who believe that Global Warming is not happening.

The BBC commisioned video journalist (you have no idea how much pleasure it gives me to see that as a regular job title) Marco Silva to produce this piece on just how exposure to YouTube convinced some poor schnook that the earth is indeed as flat as a plate.

And what kind of videos convinced him?

Here's an example. Hold on to your intelligence whilst watching this.

The power of video to convince is astonishing, It is one incredibly powerful medium. Far more powerful than print.'

This, of course, brings us back to the Oxford course.

If you can use video to make people believe that the earth is flat, you can also use that very same medium to effect change for social good.

The problem, of course, is that the news busines is not in the 'common good' business.  They are in the business of selling advertisers your eyeballs.  You don't get ratings in the TV news business by running stories about the common good. You get ratings by running scary stories about terrorists or knife attacks.

But here's a novel idea.

Suppose we took that exclusive power that the news media has to set the national agenda and dialogue and put it in the hands of someone who wanted to use it for a different purpose.

Say Greenpeace.

Greenpeace has 250,000 members.

I am willing to bet that all of those members already owns a smartphone or an iPhone.

Suppose all of those 250,000 people who care about the environment and the future of the planet used their smartphones to create video as compelling as the Flat Earth people and flooded social media with their content.

250,000 CNNs.

250,000 BBCs

Do you think that would make a difference?

Do you think that would move the needle?

If a handful of Flat Earth videos can change minds, what would 250,000 Save The Earth videos do?

The earth is worth saving.. even if it is flat.

Don't you think?



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