One of the things I constantly find in my research on sense-making is the limits, both over and covert, of information sources. These limits show up in multiple forms, but are often associated with the monopolization of either an arena of discourse (“what everyone knows”) or a protocol of discourse (“how everyone knows / communicates”) by one or more groups. Such monopolies restrict both what people know, what is considered to be “valid” knowledge, and how people are expected to communicate. If this sounds overly “academic”, well, too bad: precision in language is essential to precision in analysis. It is, in effect, one of those structural limits I’m talking about.
Today (January 13th, 2014), the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) released a fascinating report entitled Syria’s Socially Mediated Civil War which looks at how the arena of discourse in the West, and hence all of our policy debates surrounding Syria, is being subtly and not so subtly limited and manipulated by social media. The report is well worth reading and keeping in mind.