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Information is a weapon

It’s maybe an artifact of our time that we assume the idea of information being a weapon is as symptom of our very modern world. In fact, information has challenged our world for many centuries…

It’s maybe an artifact of our time that we assume the idea of information being a weapon is a symptom of our very modern world. In fact, information has challenged our world for many centuries…

Words are weapons, sharper than knives

Before the deed came the thought, a notion often enshrined in words, both written and verbal.

“The pen is mightier than the sword” — an adage coined by Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839.

What is perhaps symptomatic of our time is mass communication as a weapon, delivering its payload of information and disinformation in varying proportions with the withering accuracy of a RSS news feed.

I suppose you could refine the idea of information into knowledge. This transferable store of data & information is often fashioned into deliberately crude, blunt cudgels to bludgeon us into believing with, or finely crafted blades to draw our beliefs via stealth and cunning.

The ways in which information can be disseminated are mesmerizing. We live in a world where the reach of media is considerable.

While the reach and penetration of information isn’t a threatening issue in itself, the accuracy of information is.

There was an unerring inevitability to ‘blogging forcing the larger media publishers to reconsider their business plans. After all, ‘blogging has moved from being a fringe / niche media player to a must-have business publishing tool.

However, the fundamental weakness of ‘blogging is the lack of accuracy and journalistic rigour. Additionally, a lot of ‘blogging is reportage, in that what is reported can be an interpretive retelling of events that are coloured, slanted and biased in some way.

And herein lies the true danger of ‘blogging. It’s common knowledge that the US media is subject to political censorship, or censorship for political gain, even.

With this as a backdrop to media as a whole, it’s hard to make a case against ‘blogging when even mainstream journalism can’t be accepted as a rigid source of unfiltered, unbiased knowledge.

Censorship — reading between the lines

Censorship of the media is one thing, but censorship on the web presents an entirely different array of issues, mostly still searching for resolutions.

My concern is that some informational mechanisms could be fixed in place to skew and distort news to reflect the tastes and political sensibilities of a select few and we might not know what’s happening.

Fortunately, there are checks & measures in place. Like any conflict, the war of information has factions and propaganda, too.

Social Networking is in my opinion a prerequisite of ‘blogging. At the same time, Social Networks can be like remote islands, with their own people, customs and leaders.

And because these remote islands reside largely beyond the reach or influence of mainstream media and of accepted political persuasions, information can on occasion be presented “as is”, sans the censorship.

These activist outposts might sound like a small voice in a very large room, but with Social Media, a small voice can utilize the Echo Chamber effect of ‘blogging to further an agenda, debate or argument.

The irony is, if you cut a slice straight through the middle of the greater ‘blogosphere and look at the “mean” message, the noise of inaccuracy and interpretation might just afford you a better, clearer view of what the real story is out there.

Helping to defuse the most dangerous weapon of our time — bad news on a global scale…

Recommended reading

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

4 replies on “Information is a weapon”

Each age thinks itself at the cutting edge and yet almost always forgets the incredible advances of the past. Certain aspects of the modern world are not better or no worse than those faced by our ancestors and yet we consider ourselves at some kind of peak today. In 1000 years (if humans are still around) that generation will look back with gaping-mouthed awe at how feeble we seem in retrospect just as we do when we label whole stretches of human history as “the dark ages” for instance.


It might be that we’ve reached a plateau in terms of moral & ethical understanding.

In that regard, I’m not sure there’s much else we can add to a dialogue that is in some respects over 2,000 years old.

It’s in between the moral & ethical arguments that most of the cutting edge and sinister stuff slips through unseen.

As I see it, what we lack isn’t understanding but a willingness to stand up and do the right thing, irrespective of the bruised egos along the way…


Great post, your on fire with this one. I just wrote a similar piece about how small business can slay the dragon using savvy positioning strategies that involve content development/blogs and promotion. You beat me to the punch on this one, love the references. Definitely a good read.

Hi there, Jeffery! I have no problems with you placing a link to a relevant article in you comment link field.

Glad you liked the article and thanks for commenting, too.

This article very nearly didn’t happen. I started out with a few unrelated sentences that didn’t work together.

Got there in the end, though…

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