The Cold War Daily

Notes on the new great power struggle.

Russia election hacking and Russian influence stories by Chris Zappone


The only surprise for me is why the US media didn’t cover it more closely. But I have some good ideas about why they didn’t.

May 3, 2016
Blog: Donald Trump as a Manchurian Candidate (…sort of) for Russia

June 15, 2016
Fairfax: Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin: Russia’s information war meets the US election

June 22, 2016
Blog: Russia’s US election hacking / information war campaign

June 24, 2016
Fairfax: DNCHack: Did Kim Dotcom warn the world about the Democratic Party hacking?

July 26, 2016
Fairfax: DNC leak: Russia better at information war now than during Cold War

July 24, 2016
Blog: The first US election fought in cyberspace

August 1, 2016
Blog: DNCLeaks justified because, well, I can’t vote in US: Julian Assange

August 9, 2016 (Republished October 13, 2016)
Fairfax: Donald Trump campaign’s ‘firehose of falsehoods’ has parallels with Russian propaganda

August 11, 2016
Fairfax: DNCLeak: Five times WikiLeaks and Russia have crossed paths

August 14, 2016
Blog: For Russia’s social media propaganda, change is everything

August 19. 2016
Fairfax: Shadow Brokers NSA leak: this too could be a form of Russian propaganda, says expert

August 25, 2016
Blog: Information war and propaganda: a brute force attack on reality

September 7, 2016
Blog: Russian influence and Shadow Brokers’ message ‘to elites’

September 9, 2016
Fairfax: Who controls our news? Welcome to the era of Russian and Chinese information war

September 14, 2016
Fairfax: WikiLeaks drops latest Guccifer 2.0 data on Hillary Clinton, DNC, Democrats

September 16, 2016
Blog: Isn’t Russia’s meddling in the US election a ‘Cyber Pearl Harbor’?

October 14, 2016
Fairfax: If Donald Trump scares you, you should fight for facts everywhere

October 14, 2016
Blog: DNCHack is the ‘most significant’ of any cyber attack ever seen: Thomas Rid

October 19, 2016
Fairfax: Twitter bots: Donald Trump ‘has rabies’ – and it’s something we should all care about

October 26, 2016
Fairfax: SurkovLeaks: Is Vladimir Putin aide’s email hack payback for DNCLeak-Clinton exposure?

November 25, 2016
Fairfax: Why was I blocked by WikiLeaks on Twitter?

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The Pay Off

“An idea for you, me and anyone else in this struggle: maybe pepper messages on social media with the promise of happier days ahead for an America that successfully contains the Russian misinfo/info war efforts. Stress a return to the productive politics of the center as The Big Payoff for everyone.”

In cyberspace there is no center, we’re always off to the side


“In space there’s no center, we’re always off to the side.”

So sings David Berman of the Silver Jews in the song ‘Ballad Of Reverend War Character’ on the iconic album Natural Bridge. If you take the words from that narcotic piece of musical Americana and apply them to cyberspace, they reveal an important element of the medium: there is no natural center on the internet. By extension, there is no longer a center for liberal democracies, as they transition from a world of print papers and the commanding heights of TV, to the new reality of the internet.

This is a huge challenge.

After all, there once was a scarcity of words in the time of print production. Back then words on pages were stable. Paragraphs, chapters in books and magazines stood in self-contained formats, fixed for the readers’ eye.

Online, it’s all different. All texts online are linked to other texts. They are almost unsearchable and unfindable if they’re not. Words online exist almost exclusively in the context of other texts through links.

So there is a skewing built into the patterns of words online. Every idea leads off to another, and those links form the basis for judgement of the idea serving as point of departure.

So texts, news, Facebook feeds, all lead off toward another dune in the sands of digital words.

Online, there is not the same hierarchical cannon for words as there was in the print age – when the New York Times sat above the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which sat above a neighborhood weekly. It was the same for books: airport novels sat below classics, which sat below the pillars of Western civilization such as Plato’s works and the Bible.

Instead, everything today exists as a link in a centerless information universe.  Online, there is no natural commons for everyone to cross – only things at the side, connected in a web to other things.

This has important considerations for the way political news is transmitted and how it’s interpreted. This is true especially given the fact that the rise of the liberal democratic nation state roughly coincided with the Western invention of the printing press.

Today we live in a kind of digital scriptum continuum, in which a story can be “expanded and expanded”, stretched, repeated, remixed, subverted, mocked and reinterpreted across various websites and social media. To read the story and share it is to annotate it and spin it – influencing the perception around it.

Meaning itself is changed by the reality of the medium, as Marshall McLuhan might argue. This blending of spectator and participant has big implications for politics online.

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