Matt Armstrong has a must-read analytical, IO piece up at CTLab Review:
New Media and Persuasion, Mobilization, and Facilitation
…New Media is more than 24/7 news cycles. It is the ability to create trusted peer relationships, or the appearance of, to create legitimacy of information as well as depth and breadth of acceptance. This can be done as traditional media or other new media outlets pick up on a bit of “news” for redistribution, giving the impression of validity as the sources go up from one to many, often in excess of the three needed to create a “fact.” It is easier to see you’re not alone in the New Media environment, something that was not possible with radios and film (unless you risked gathering as a group).
There are several defining characteristics of the new media environment. The obvious are hyperconnectivity, persistence of information, inexpensive reach, and dislocation with speaker and listener virtually close but geographically distant. New Media also democraticizes information in the sense that hierarchies are bypassed, permitting both direct access to policy and decision makers and the possibility of “15-minutes of fame” (if even only one minute or less) to everyone. Information can be created and consumed by everyone regardless of “eliteness,” CV, and at minimal cost to any party.
All true and well said. Matt however points to a seldom recognized but critical variable here:
To the insurgent and terrorist, New Media’s capacity to amplify and increase the velocity of an issue that is critical. They increasingly rely on the Internet’s ability to share multiple kinds of media quickly and persistently to permit retrieval across time zones around the world from computers or cell phones. The value is the ability to not just persuade an audience to support their action, but to mobilize their support and to facilitate their will to act on behalf of the group (or not to act on behalf of another group, such as the counterinsurgent).
Velocity is very important in many senses. An accelerating message tempo heightens the sense of crisis in the mind of the audience so long as it does not move so quickly as to slide into unfiltered “noise”. Control of velocity also permits the exploitation of “information lag” in slower moving hierarchies or audiences. Finally, this velocity is really “alinear”; the ability of new media tools to “mash-up” entirely unrelated events separated by time, distance and circumstance and synthesize them out of context permits the scoring of tactical propaganda victories.
Read all of Matt’s post here.