Sunday, April 29, 2012

Interacting with the Interconnection concept

Kony2012: A geographical case study?

A world diminishing in size due to technology

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The Interconnection concept


Following on from the Facebook connections map showcased in the last posting, I thought it worthwhile to explore the Interconnection concepts of the Australian Curriculum Geography. I was further prodded to do so after watching the YouTube video on the Kony2012 initiative.

I kept asking myself, is this geography and could it be used in a geography class?  Is it political geography, cultural geography, human well-being, development geography, demography?  Can such a phenomenon and resource be used as a case study in geography.  To explore this idea I revisited the Interaction concept (one of seven Australian Curriculum: Geography concepts) and had a look at several units which have been written for the draft curriculum released in October 2011 (namely Global Connections and Human Well-being).  So what is the concept of Interconnection according to the draft Australian Curriculum: Geography.

The concept of Interconnection (draft AC: Geography page 9) 

The concept of interconnection, in geography, emphasises that no object of geographical study can be viewed in isolation. It is about the ways that geographical phenomena are connected to each other through environmental processes, the movement of people, flows of trade and investment, the purchase of goods and services, cultural influences, the exchange of ideas and information, political power, international agreements and other types of interaction across space.

• exploring the networks that channel the interconnections between places, and which can advantage some places and disadvantage others
• learning to see their own locality in a wider national and global context, and gaining an understanding of the external factors that influence the locality’s present and future

The concept of interconnection is particular alive and well in the following units of the draft curriculum

The Year 9 unit called Navigating global connections

This unit focuses on the connectedness of Australia with its region and the world. This is explored initially through the eyes of the student and the connections and contacts they have with the wider world in their everyday lives. The unit then looks at the nature of Australia’s connections (with particular emphasis on social and economic connections) and the positive and negative impacts of these connections. The ability of a student to act locally, but with a regional and global view of the consequences is investigated.

Year 10 unit called Global well-being
This unit focuses on the nature of well-being around the world and how can it be measured. Spatial characteristics of well-being and the factors that influence it, and the inequalities that exist at a variety of scales, are used to investigate programs that address issues of well-being.

Content descriptions from unit
There are interrelationships between human well-being and conflict
  • There are significant spatial variations in human well-being within nations, at both regional and local scales 
  • A non-government program which attempts to improve human well-being in another country, and why such programs may be spatially targeted at specific regions within the country
  • People are connected to places across the world through their cultural interests and activities

There are many other places across the draft curriculum where the concept of interconnection is fundamental to the geographic understanding of the topic studied.  I have selected these units because they are particularly pertinent to using the Kony2012 initative as a case study of a geographical phenomenon. So how is the Kony2012 a geographical study. The following quotes from the video have a geographical and interconnection flavour which makes it possible as a geographical study under the guise of cultural geography and political geography in particular. 
  •  “Planet connection through technology.”
  •  “Technology enables us to connect anywhere, anytime ... This connection is changing the way the world works.” In short the video is highlighting the fact that technology is making space diminish through the power of technology leading to increased global interconnection.
  •  “There are more people on Facebook today than there were on the planet 200 years ago.”
  • “Humanities greatest desire is to belong and connect.”
  •  “Where you live should not determine whether you live?
  • “It is not just important for one people but for everyone to capture and stop Kony.
  • “Kony’s name needs to be everywhere.”
  • “Will use 20 culture makers to make Kony famous?
  • “Today the people of the world can see each other and can protect each other.”
  • “The power of media to mobilise the world to act.”
  • “To change the conversation of a culture.”
  • “We are living in a new world, a Facebook world where 750 million people share ideas, not thinking in borders, it’s a global community.”
  • “Arresting Joseph Kony will prove that the world we live in has new rules, that the technology that has brought our planet together is allowing us to respond the problems of our friends – a place where children, no matter where they live have a childhood, free from fear.”

Does this not sound like geography with its spatial and interconnection conceptualisation as discussed in the draft curriculum document? 

For more information on the Kony2012 initiative go to:

As a footnote to this reference to Kony2012 it is worth examining the controversy surrounding this initiative in terms of the recent reports on the use of funds, scamming accusations and the mental health of the film-maker Jason Russell, the driver of Kony2012. A fascinating case study, relevant to geography, populist media in nature, current with layers of truth and purpose.  Surely it can be made a geographical study to engage students and for them to learn about the concept of interconnection...and space.

 The Age of Interconnection: The Anthropocene


Whilst on the concept of Interconnection it is worth referring to the so called new age of the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene is best defined as the new human-dominated period of the Earth's history, the age of interconnection around the globe. 
Technically, the Anthropocene is the most recent period of the Quaternary, succeding to the Holocene. The Quaternary is a period of the Earth's history characterised by numerous and cyclical glaciations, starting 2,588,000 years ago (2.588 Ma). The Quaternary is divided into three epochs: the Pleistocene, the Holocene, and now the Anthropocene.The following links show this interconnection qualities of the Anthropocene rather well.

The term and the concept of the Anthropocene, the idea that human activity affects the Earth to the point where it can cross a new age, is not new and dates back to the late nineteenth century. It seems that the success of the term and its recent currency and adoption is due to the luck of having been made at the appropriate time, when humankind has become more than ever aware of the extent of its impact on global environment.