Editor’s Note: Information Professionals Association (IPA) Vice President John Bicknell and Board Member Dr. Juliana Geran Pilon shared “The End of Information Warfare?” written by Zac Rogers of the Jeff Bleich Centre for the US Alliance in Digital Technology, Security, and Governance at Flinders University of South Australia. Bicknell notes, “This thought provoking article begins with a curious headline. Zac Rogers argues that digital narratives are so voluminous and fleeting that information warfare as we know it is losing efficacy. There are new risks, however. He then explains how digital technology has agency which is frequently harmful to humans.”
Published by the Modern Warfare Institute at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, “The End of Information Warfare?” examines some of the problems surrounding the current information environment, including the fact that the for narratives to be effective, they must be sustained over space and time, and the fleeting nature of social media outlets and rapid pace of updates renders that permanence – or influence – nearly impossible today.
“Anecdotally, and as anyone awake for the first half of 2020 can attest, narratives transiting the information environment are now so numerous, and blink into and out of existence so rapidly, that they no longer exist in the impactful way they previously did. The net effect of the fragmentation and disutility of the information environment is not merely one of many more contested narratives. It is of no narratives.”
Rogers points out that the very technology that is seen as our key to maintaining technological superiority and competitiveness is also a limitation to successfully executing information operations.
Read the article at https://mwi.usma.edu/end-information-warfare/.
Ok, I’ll bite on this:
“If the very conditions in which narrative is sustained and propagated are extinguished, and if we understand information warfare (IW) as a contest of narratives, where does this leave IW?”
Uh, no. IW is not just a contest of narratives, it is a battle over the speed, volume and content of information being used to affect human decision-making. This can include the reflected electrons used in defending against armed manned and unmanned aircraft as well as the words staring back at you from this screen. Both of these are used to affect decision-making and both are a component of IW. We can corrupt either information flow by changing its content or even whether that flow of information makes it to a human being.
Narratives are often the domain of strategy (and they should be!) but they hardly constitute the sum total of Information Warfare.