Thursday, August 14, 2008

Information as Propaganda

Kat (who writes at Castle Argghhh, a prominent milblog) has written a wonderful post discussing propaganda. Her main point, that “all information is propaganda. Official information is official propaganda. Thus, it always deserves to be challenged. Paraphrasing Socrates, question everything” is extremely well taken. She also points out that:

In the end, we decide what we make of information, but leaving information unchallenged means that we leave perceptions unchallenged. Milblogs, political blogs and others came to prominence because people were looking for missing information. Because we did not believe we were getting a complete picture or story. Because we believed that without some sort of expertise or background information, the real story was missed for sound bites or two sentences that basically said: bomb today, three soldiers killed. Left to itself and to ourselves, we would have been led to believe, purposefully or not, that the only thing happening in Iraq or Afghanistan was bombs and death.

What is a military blog or milblog? It is a place to get direct information or stories from men and women in the military or retired from the military or with connections to the military. Mostly without any filters. When those blogs proved accurate and the people legitimate, their voices were trusted more than any other media source to be the gage by which to evaluate progress. We linked to those stories to persuade ourselves and others of the facts or views being different than those presented.

We were and are, in fact, conducting a very small part of the information war whether that is our original intent, current purpose or accepted outcome. Information dissemination is information warfare.

All information is meant to inform and persuade. Thus, all information becomes propaganda. All official information is official propaganda. Regardless of who it comes from or how trusted the source. Looking at information to evaluate its persuasive purposes and capability is not paranoid any more than evaluating the purpose of a commercial for its ability to sell a product is paranoia. It does not entail the same potential risk to national or international actions, but it is the same concept.

Right on Kat!

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