Archive for July 25th, 2006

Online Video and the Transforming of Public Opinion

Continuing today’s video theme, an article about YouTube video clips of the war in Lebanon in today’s Washington Post got me thinking: how soon before an online video changes American (or world) opinion in some fundamental way?

Think about the televising of the 1960 presidential debate, which quite likely shifted the election to Kennedy, or news coverage of the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam, which turned American opinion against the war for the first time. When will online video have similarly transformative moment? Not yet, but maybe sooner than we think.

I’d argue that now-ubiquitous digital cameras have had such a singular instance already — the Abu Ghraib scandal had the visceral effect it did because soldiers’ digital photos of their mistreatment of prisoners, which they spread amongst themselves via cd and (I believe) email, made the issue searingly real in a way that a dry text description could not. Video’s next?

cpd

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Digital Editing and Campaign Trickery

A Micropersuasion post about digital editing made me wonder — will political campaigns try to use anonymous online videos as a dirty trick? I.e., using easily-available editing software to put their opponent in a compromising or unflattering position, posting the video on YouTube or some other video hosting site, and then spreading the word behind-the-scenes.

Campaigns have already been accused of digitally manipulating photos, for instance to make a crowd at a friendly event seem larger than it actually was, and over the years political operatives have tried just about every dirty trick imaginable, from push-polling to outright voter intimidation. So why not a video-driven whisper campaign? It’s unethical, of course, but the bigger dissuader may be the consequences of getting caught and exposed in the press.

cpd

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