Monday, January 17, 2005

Silicon Brass

Gloria Pan discusses a New Yorker article about military communications in Iraq. In the piece, Dan Baum, argues that younger officers in Iraq are serving more effectively because of their Internet upbringing. That is, they “have created for themselves, in their spare time, a means of sharing with one another, online, information that the Army does not control.”

Baum concludes that these Web-resourceful junior officers are turning out to be just what the Army needs to better manage the chaos of Iraq. “Instead of looking up to the Army for instructions, they are teaching themselves how to fight the war.” It’s a sort of Google approach to military tactics, and runs contrary to the top-down information taxonomy drilled into the minds of older brass.

Pan, over at the Media Center extrapolates that this is exactly what’s happening in the media today: “Replace key words like ‘Military Brass’ with ‘Big Media’ and ‘junior officers’ with ‘audiences,’ [or better yet ‘bloggers’] and you get basically the same story. This is a pattern that must be repeating itself over and over again as society transitions to the age of We Media.” Baun reports on and, two sites begun by present and former West Point cadets, as examples of effective soldier-to-soldier (S2S anyone?) information sharing. On both sites junior officers trade battle stories and advice that makes for better military sense on the battlefield.

Pan points out the parallel media phenomenon of bloggers, and especially those who came out of more traditional journalism backgrounds, challenging the old news hierarchies installed at newspapers and creating information sharing networks that can investigate and break stories in ways that MSM can not.

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