After 3 campaigns, social media project Life of Paolo came to an ending. Life of Paolo was a social media campaign focus on the promotion of a fake documentary about an Italian fake news writer. With this project, we aimed to raise awareness about the problem of fake news as well as entertain the audience that would have been able to spot the fiction behind our product. My role in this project have been focused on the production, shooting and creation of content for the final documentary and I have been responsible for the Research part regarding the Italian “fake news” situation.
One of our group strength was that the combination of everyone different skills results in some very creative ideas. We also had a similar vision on what we wanted to communicate in our project, we agree indeed that we wanted to add a touch of humor to it.
“Content creators can endear themselves to a particular audience by showing they understand its sensibilities and can alienate themselves by miscalculating that audience’s sensibilities. Humor is not simply a matter of taste: it is a vehicle by which people articulate and validate their relationships with those with whom they share the joke.” (Jenkins et al, 2013, p204)
According to what Jenkins said, adding some humor to our campaign we wished to reach a likeminded audience as well as making the work on the project more enjoyable.
However, we had a serious problem in matching our schedule because everyone was busy with other projects and/or work. One of the main issue was not being able to meet regularly to discuss the project. It affects also the actual production of our documentary because when it came the time of the shooting we ended up having a limited time to spend with the actor so we ended up rushing through the scenes. The result was an inconsistency in the footage so we had to plan a second shooting.
The life of Paolo project was really ambitious but we couldn’t commit to it as we wished so the final product didn’t reflect our original idea.
For instance, we were planning to release 3 episodes of our story but we realize that it was infeasible due to a lack of time.
This fact turns out to be a problem especially because we were asked to approach our campaign with a practice based research approach.
“Practice-based Research is an original investigation undertaken in order to gain new knowledge partly by means of practice and the outcomes of that practice. Claims of originality and contribution to knowledge may be demonstrated through creative outcomes which may include artefacts such as images, music, designs, models, digital media or other outcomes such as performances and exhibitions Whilst the significance and context of the claims are described in words, a full understanding can only be obtained with direct reference to those outcomes” (Candy 2006, p3)
At the beginning of our campaign I find this approach really difficult. We didn’t manage to complete the final documentary since the very last-minute cause of some production delays so it was complicated to promote on our final product on Facebook since we had any.
For the same reasons, the outcomes of our action reflection learning on the previous cycle didn’t really impact the result of the last campaign. Even though we changed our media strategy and the content of our Life of Paolo documentary in order to suits better the standard of spreadability we kept having just a engagement from the public the public.
According to the models of spredability defined by Jenkins, we plan better our documentary and rescript our final documentary. On a technical-strategic level our media artefact portable, relevant to multiple audiences, available when and where audience wanted it and easily reusable (Jenkins 2014, p 198), on a text-content level it contains humor, mystery, rumors and timely and controversy.(Jenkins et al, 2013 p 204-2018).
Unfortunately it still wasn’t enough to get a better engagement.
We shaped our documentary Life of Paolo according to the theory of spredability, our mistake probably was not having the same regard in trying to make it interactive and participatory to get more involvement.
“[T]he nature of participation in the digital age is a complicated matter. For even those groups who have greater access to digital technologies and have mastered the skills to deploy them effectively toward their own end, our capacity to participate can be complicated by issues of who owns the platforms through which communication occurs and how their agendas shape how those tools can be deployed. And, even if we get our message through, there is often a question of whether anyone is listening.” (Jenkins et al 2013, p194)
Through my practice I’ve learn that media is an unpredictable environment and it’s not enough to follow the existing theories to be sure that your campaign will succeed. I also believe that what Jenkins said is probably more suitable for the industry standards, in the case of independent small campaign like ours is more difficult to archive tangible results.
For all these reasons it’s hard to define if our project had any impact on our audience cause of the poor participation, but it for sure had a positive effect on me. I’m not the kind of person that read or shares news on Facebook but, because of my curious nature, from time to time I had clicked on absurd news published on my Facebook wall. While working on this project I’ve reached a new knowledge about how Fake news work and I know that every click on this kind of articles, help this net of lies and disinformation to grow and make moneys which goes in the pockets of people with questionable moral values. Now that I’m more conscious of the mechanism behind fake news I will pay more attention on what articles I click on.
Jenkins, Henry, Ford, Sam., & Green, Joshua. (2013). Spreadable Media Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture (Postmillennial pop Spreadable media). New York: NYU Press.
Candy, L. (2006). Practice based research: A guide. CCS Report, 1, 1-19.