In order to win the “War of Ideas” we need to mobilize and empower the masses. It’s one thing to talk about New Media, it’s quite another to make it available. Commercial outsourcing information activities is one thing (and potentially distasteful resulting from incredibly poor short-term judgement), outsourcing the struggle for minds and wills to indigenous population is another. The struggle must be, after all, ultimately conducted by, with, and through the local population for legitimacy, participation, and durability of the message and effect. After thinking more about Sean’s observation on improved connectivity in Baghdad, a friend and I were talking. While “neutral” media websites provided CENTCOM may not be the answer (we arguably squandered this opportunity five years ago), getting information and communication technologies into the hands of the general public is.
The insurgent is using off the shelf software and free tools to capture, brand, and transmit their messages. Why not do the same for ordinary Iraqis? We’ve talked about doing the same in Iran a few years ago: distribute free Farsi blogging tools and hosting to facilitate online discussions.
This “open source counter-propaganda” must be used to expose misinformation, atrocities, and adversarial “say-do” gaps as well as promote the positive and success stories.
Something to think about. The advantages will outweigh and beat the disadvantages in the long run. Capacity and connectivity are good.
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- New Media and Persuasion, Mobilization, and Facilitation
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- From the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy: no one in PD conducts PD overseas
- Synchronizing Information: The Importance of New Media in Conflict