Saturday, December 27, 2008


The information war, fought through images and language, is over narrative. The Tamil Tigers want to be seen as liberators; the government wants to paint them as terrorists. In this struggle, over the past few years, the government has gained the upper hand.

Not surprisingly, the information war that has emerged from Sri Lanka's 20-year insurgency teaches us as much about the importance of narrative in counterinsurgency as it does about the conflict itself.

"We need a little data, but can't get enough of stories," said BJ Fogg, a Stanford researcher and author of "Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do."

"Stories are a technology, not a high technology, but a biological technology, for remembering cause-and-effect relationships. Our brains are sponges for stories, and it's very hard to undo a well-told story."

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