Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Battle of the Keyboards

Information is a weapon of war. Controlling the flow of battlefront details, propaganda made to elicit patriotic fervor or fear, and many other types of info control have been a part of battle since battles began.

Today the internet is part of that battlefield, part of the weapon of information. Blazing hot words have been searing the internet via the so-called warbloggers and peace-bloggers alike. 40 years ago, the battle of words took place on editorial pages of newspapers and magazines, penned by staffers and by the writers of letters to editors. Television took up the role in the 60s and 70s. By the late 1980s and 1990s, the emerging internet became the newest field of conflict and especially since 2001, Americans have been taking their verbiage to the instant, worldwide forums.

I notice it daily, even hourly. Talking points get web placement, and within hours those in support or in opposition repeat or rebuke the information. As Sen. Joe McCarthy proved - all that needs be done to establish credulity is something be said in front of cameras and reporters, fact checking comes much later. As long as it appears somewhere written down some folks take it as gospel truth.

Just last week I was pondering on all the typing at all kinds of blogs about North Korea and their claims of active nuclear programs. All the typing on foreign policy by folks who had an opinion without necessarily having any factual history was rather daunting.

Does all the rhetoric really affect any policy by the U.S. or Korea? I was having much doubt about that and then yesterday I saw some clips from "The War of the Words: The Story of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders" where Paul H. Henry skewers the "courage" and "sacrifice" of bloggers like InstaPundit who advocate war in the mideast. Two clips from the "documentary" are available here.

Or you can watch the first clip below (warning some language is NSFW):

As a longtime journalist who has written both factual reports and opinion pieces, I can assert that caution on the part of the writer is a virtue. Sometimes what you write and the views you promote can really backfire. Hot-blooded emotion has driven much of the writing since 9-11 about foreign policy. As for myself, I tend to wait and process information or learn more on a topic rather than firing off a polemic seconds after some story hits the cable news or the internet. First reports are often shallow and sometimes plain wrong.

But it is plain to me the "fighting keyboarders" are sheer knee-jerk wordsmiths. I see much effort to dredge details after an opinion is offered to shore up credibility. I don't doubt their sincerity, but I hope most readers spend the time to review info from a variety of sources before they worship at some blog altar.

Our government has for many years depended on "propaganda" and a recent creation of "perception management" can be read here in an award-winning report from 2005.

More on this "documentary" can be read here, here and here, where Michael Silence says much with a one-word comment: "Heh!"


  1. John Huotari8:36 AM

    Just wanted to say hi, Joe.

  2. Well, hello to you, John.