Listen: Russia, Ukraine And Silicon Valley discussed on Overnight re-air of day's programming
"In going on geographic stovepipe, ping, the people that were interested in whether it was interested in in terms of researching interested in in terms of being the journalist writing on it too interest in the actual people fighting in it on topics like ISIS and the Middle East were unfamiliar with. Often uninterested in and what for example, Russia was doing and Ukraine in turn the people that were interested in say American electoral politics, everything from voters to the journalists assigned to cover political campaigns were unfamiliar with what Russia was doing and Ukraine. So there would be things that would happen that someone would if they could make the connection to go actually, this is just what Russia and Ukraine, but it would seem completely new and unfamiliar to someone for example, looking at American electoral politics, the same thing was going on. If you were not just kind of geographic connection, but topical people interested in war disconnected from people interested in working on Silicon Valley. And so you would have generals literally saying to us. Why are they doing x y and z and someone who knew Silicon Valley be like utterly natural thing that a company would do the same thing when it connects the research world and the serious work. World of policy and politics with celebrity and fame. So you would have someone we would see ISIS do something in the this is new this is innovative, and anyone who knew anything about everything from video games to Taylor swift would be like that's not knowing innovative. That's out there another. So we tried to bring these different cases together another aspect of it is methodology. So this is a space where there's just a massive amount of data. So you can finally do really big quantitative large in studies. And so there's been this wonderful mapping of what's going on. So you can map out. You know? Here's what Russian puppet accounts were doing. Here's the sixty thousand different accounts that ISIS was doing, but that was disconnected from people interested in say military history or communication studies or the field of psychology or public diplomacy. And so you will found those connections weren't being made. And then the final methodology that we applied to it is. Is very rarely where people speaking to the people at work in the field. So we went around interviewing again this wildly diverse set of people, you know, everything from tech company executives to recruiters for extremist groups to people working in public diplomacy at the State Department to the military, both active duty to retired people that later would make the news in a major way, for example, General Michael Flynn to celebrities. People who appeared in MTV reality shows in the light and again by bringing these different people together, we found insights that cut across and I think that is part of the part of the fun of the journey and the fun of the book. But again also allowed us to make connections draw insights that wouldn't have otherwise been possible and allowed. It was remarkable to track. This issue is it became one of such national importance in salience would beat her, and I had a first conversations about as it was back in two thousand twelve and two thousand thirteen big events then regarding weaponization of social media where operation of pillar defense operation pillar of defense, an eighth day. Inconclusive air campaign fought between the idea and moss Ren, the real world are online saw the transit of some ten million Twitter messages from folks around the world. It was called the first Twitter war around the same time. The US military relaxes regulations on social media use overseas and we see in Kenya. Al-shabaab launches a life tweeted terror attack on the west gate mall three day running seeds. They've killed sixty seven people, but they rather than the Kenyan government are the reliable source of information. That's what gets us started on this journey. But then we're in a unique position when we see the rise of the Islamic state the revelations of Russian manipulation and everything since to apply that perspective that we gather because of longtime line one last thing, I would add that there's another difference about this topic certainly from ones that I've worked on in the. Past is that you can both study it, but you can also jump into the fray yourself so throughout this period that we are doing this gathering of whether it is the interviews to pulling in lessons from what did the telegraph due to international diplomacy. We're also doing everything from trolling Russian trolls setting Honey traps for them. So that they reveal themselves and we learned from that to joining online armies for different nations out there. And so it's a little bit of. There's. Another spaces like in sports reporting. You sometimes have seen like writers trying. They join a sports team, George Plumpton. There's a famous doing that it became a referral. Call a kicker for the Detroit Lions part of what we learned from. This was by doing which is hard. Sometimes it do and like studies of other spaces. Peter singer at the new America foundation overs research, all the interviews you've done over the years. Are there one or two people or events or? Seems that stand I Adam Powell of the Annenberg center. Super me something that really stood out that just spoke to how social media has flattened. Political dialogue and the ability for unusual actors to have an outsize voice in international conversations was the number of times that there were young girls who were major political players. We have a domestic example to start which is Kate. Pardon me. Who is an investigative reporter in the small town of ceilings grove, Pennsylvania. She launched her newspaper at the age of seven. Her first major story was the birth of her baby brother, and she had a subscriber count. And I think the dozens but. Because she was hyper local, and because she was good at commanding the internet and getting her reporting out there. She was also I on the ground to report on a local murder scene and local murder investigation and quite quickly not necessarily the murder, but the fact that she was the one who was leading the coverage of it became an international story. And this is. Local enterprising American journalists were there to other seven-year-old girls one which I think a lot of folks you'll be familiar with Alabama had been called the twentieth century and Frank who's live tweeting from besieged Aleppo gave us remarkable and unprecedented. Understanding of what it was like for civilians suffering that besiegement and then another girl who started the age of seven goes by the moniker, Jonah jihad and she works out of the West Bank using mothers iphone to document. Idea of roadblocks and operations and says that she's a journalist but also that her smartphone serves as a kind of weapon and that just. Illustrates how? Vastly different. This terrain is Al people with virtually no resources can nonetheless, come to command such fast attention, and thereby our and influence my favorite. I think is relevant to a lot of folks gathered in this room are interested in particular in public diplomacy, and we had a fun, but strange experience where we interviewed young man named Spencer Pratt. If you know pop culture, you'll be familiar with them if not he is the person who brought the Kardashians into your lives. He originally was a producer of the first TV show that brought them onto the screen. He then decided that he wanted to be a celebrity himself. And so he finagled his way onto a reality show where he met his wife Heidi, and they became kind of a celebrity phenomena called Spidey and at one point in time, they were the highest paid reality celebrities, even more than the current president of the United States himself actually considered him a bit of a rival, and he."