Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Power of Crowd Sourcing Versus the Power of Propaganda

There is a fascinating discussion thread at Enenews debating whether crowd-sourced intelligence from Japanese citizens can combat the veil of silence and lies that together constitute official discourse about Fukushima

One of the participants of the thread feels that spent fuel pool fires at the plant could not be hidden for long because, as he puts it:

(Sickputer): "All it takes is one dissident with a smart phone and important news goes global. The Arab spring was not a coincidence of time. I send this on a phone as you read it. I could tell you any eyewitness event I witness.

The keitai culture in Japan dwarfs all countries of the world. We will hear news quickly and the most important tip may come from the 50% of elementary school kids who have Internet phones. I have no doubts bad news will travel faster than the Jetstream."

Majia here: Cell phones and the internet are most definitely tools of democratic communication. They are extraordinarily mobile, anarchic, and populist. They are of the people and for the people.

The topics of regard for these technologies range from labor rights to dancing kittens, from police brutality to narcissistic self-regard.

On the other hand, we have propaganda. 

The tools of propaganda include control over access to sensitive spaces like Fukushima, control over "official" lines of communication (network news across communication media), and vast surveillance networks that allow propagandists to monitor and manipulate populist communication forums (e.g., internet forums).

Propagandists can edit the webcam at Fukushima. They can delete or replace footage. There is plenty of evidence of manipulation with the webcams as the TBS and Tepco webcams often do not match. See discussion here

Propagandists can pay or otherwise persuade academics and other experts to offer reassuring words, cloaked in credibility.

Propagandists can frame or write news releases for the major media. Corporate media have been happy to oblige. here is a good example or

Propagandists can monitor Internet forums and harass individuals who seem to exert leadership and/or attempt to debunk them with faux expertise designed to cast doubt on leaders' comments.

I don't know which side is more powerful in the war over the "truth" of Fukushima.

Sickputer is surely correct about the power of resistance using new media.

However, the propagandists have waged many wars and won because of their privileged access and control. The propagandists control over money and power also gives them an edge because they are much better equipped to seduce those with expertise through job offers, grants, and celebrity.

The chaos and uncertainty of populist resistance are uncomfortable for the undecided masses who are more inclined by nature to remain within the crowd.

My own thinking is that the propagandists have so far very effectively controlled the public's understandings of the state of Fukushima throughout most of the world.

However, the crowd mentality is breaking down in Japan as civic organizations and diplomats speak up. It is breaking down as people develop symptoms of acute radiation syndrome. It is breaking down as radiation levels spike in cities in northern Japan.

The human mind is not equipped to recognize invisible threats (not detectable directly by the empirical senses). However, evidence of the threats posed by Fukushima are not so invisible as more people in Japan experience their effects.

The desire for self-preservation is starting to percolate to the surface in Japan and we will no doubt see much more evidence of crowd-sourced information aimed at testing, debunking, and contradicting official pronouncements. Fukushima Diary is leading the way, in my opinion

The "crowd" in the US and Canada have not yet been moved by the stirrings of self-preservation because the threat remains largely undetected at the level of individual experience.

The challenge we face as advocates, as the populist resistance, is that by the time the crowd awakens in North America it will be TOO LATE for any meaningful resistance.

A call for action is required by all of us who resist propaganda to find new appeals that successfully awaken those around.

Classical appeals include appeals to logos, pathos, and ethos.

Logos involves sound argumentation and empirical evidence. has been the leading American site in the US for logos but there exist others as well. However, we are too often speaking only to ourselves. 

We need to use the incredible resources provided by sites such as Enenews to assemble evidence into persuasive messages that move the crowd.

Many internet authors and blogs have worked on this goal including Enformable, Natural News, Veterans Today, Prison Planet, among others. 

However, we still are not reaching enough people and appear too marginal to the crowd.

We need to launch more videos such as the one produced by Anonymous that reach the crowd more effectively

Potrblog and Ichicix have been at the leading edge of this kind of grassroots populist resistance

[I've been assembling arguments that anyone is free to cut and paste to create more crowd-appealing messages]

Pathos is emotion. We need to educate people about the horrors of radiation poisoning and the power of human cooperation to achieve great goals. The horrors must be matched with hope so that panic does not prevail.

The webcam video work of people like Nuckelchen and Wotcha, among others, have strong emotional appeal but not enough people see these videos. We have to figure out how to disseminate them more broadly so the images of belching smoke and steam are imprinted on the consciousness of the crowd

Ethos concerns the appeals of the source. We need to get celebrities and expert authorities to speak more openly about the disaster and its ongoing risks.

We, the resistance, currently lack credibility from the perspective of the crowd. This must change if we are going to mobilize support among those who sleep. 

We have to use all of our resources and connections to mobilize credible sources and celebrity!

The time is growing short. The battle must be waged and the crowd must be awakened before it is too late.

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff Majia, however, keep in mind the cell phone is also a tracking device for position and communication, and web searches.


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