We live in turbo charged times of information exchanges. A hybrid of information platforms make us abreast of developments in every genre at every microsecond. Facebook, Pintrest, Twitter with the TV and the print media, has made us the most informed generation ever in human history. But information overload makes us vulnerable to ‘subconscious inception’; information influences, overwhelms and ultimately drives people to use their ‘agency’ for ends, that are not well thought enough. Information has a ‘value’ and is usually a ‘fact’ but is often embedded in a larger story which lends its emotional potential.
Geopolitics and the discourse on the practice of power is grounded on the edifice of information. The first TV War was Operation Desert Storm in Iraq in 1990 with CNN ushering in the element of visuals in the information war.
The post 9/11 era with its intervention in Iraq and Af-Pak brought wars to our living room. With the advent and evolution of technology shrinking in our pockets, twitter brought life to the 140 character limit into a battle for our minds. The Arab Spring was fueled with social media mediating information through dictatorial regimes of the Middle East made Google Executive Wael Ghonem in to an icon. Islamic Scholar Tariq Ramadan in his book ‘Arab Awakening’ has more pessimistic perspective as he calls such intervention, pre-meditated and manufactured as he writes that the State Department had been making the ground for such a situation years in advance by sharing training to bloggers and coders.
Patrick Meier, an expert on Social Media Technology and its impact on Geopolitics has brought out the various dimensions that information can be used for useful ends such as rapid humanitarian response. Thats a positive externality of Information, but the sheer information we share as we ‘live’ our lives online, makes us susceptible to manipulation if we are reflexive enough.
The Green Revolution, although thwarted in Iran seeded the potential of the forthcoming revolutions from Tunisia to Oman. The war is still on on the warfront of Syria with Al Jazeera, CNN, BBC battling it out for the Opposition on the airwaves. The war is played in the virtual world by bloggers and twitters. China is known by its ‘Great Firewall’ with its extreme attempts to filter out information from its citizens. Maidan Al Tahrir to Shahbag Square in Dhaka, we can all see perception wars in action.