SuperThunderStingCar*

I’ve often thought that if I were still teaching, one of the first tasks I’d set my students would be to create a 30 second video that could be uploaded to YouTube and that would achieve a million views. The exercise involves a close analysis of just what is it that makes something ‘go viral’ and appeal to people in such a way that causes them to have to share what they’ve seen with others. It’s more than just doing something funny, and clearly the normal expectations of ‘broadcast’ quality video do not apply. Somehow it has to tap into a collective consciousness, and at the same time be undeniably creative. Ultimately the learning is about the techniques needed to go ‘viral’ in order to communicate one’s message to the world.

Another, somewhat lesser challenge, might be the posting on a blog that is viewed by over 800 people. And it seems that last week, All Change Please! managed just that. After being linked to the ‘Guido Fawkes’ blog, the number of hits rose from our usual 20 or so a week to over 400 in the first 24 hours, with a further 400 over the next two days. There was also a marginal knock-on effect on some other posts, each being viewed 25 or so times.

So how did it happen? Like many creative ideas it started with a remark made by someone else, and a chance viewing of an image of nice Mr Gove that was indeed remarkably similar to a puppet. Searching for suitable images to use, it became noticeable that, with a little help from Photoshop, certain other Thunderbirds characters bore a striking resemblance to members of the current government.

Then, after the post had been published late afternoon on last on Sunday it was passed on by a regular reader to a contact at the Daily Telegraph and then onto the ‘Guido Fawkes’ blog where it prompted over 250 comments – though not all exactly ‘on-topic’ – and in turn the hits on All Change Please! Without asking, another regular reader passed it on the the editor at the Spectator. And yet another created his own masterfully Photoshopped image of Brains as Nick Clegg, although there is currently  little evidence to confirm this is true.

Why was the post successful? First, it took on a much wider topic – politics in general – rather than just education. It’s hard to imagine 800 teachers  somehow getting as excited about anything they’ve seen on-line to do with educational matters (except maybe cuts to pensions?). Then it makes reference to the well-known cultural icon that is Thunderbirds, re-popularised by a 2004 film and two TV ads from 2008, and of course reflects the growing sense of unease about the present government.

Anyway, this week All Change Please! seem to have not only managed to achieve its 15 minutes of fame, but also made its contribution to Mr Cameron’s announced on Monday, forgotten about by Tuesday, ‘Big Society’ initiative, though I suspect it wasn’t quite what he had in mind.

* Talking of ‘Not only…but also’ (see last paragraph), SuperThunderStingCar was the title of the wonderful Thunderbirds spoof sketch by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore from the 1960s, well worth watching again!

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