Live by the Web, Die by the Web

LIVE BY THE WEB, DIE BY THE WEB….This is a few weeks old, but Daniel Kimmage, last seen analyzing the media strategy of the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, is back with a report on al-Qaeda’s media strategy. He thinks they may need a new CIO:

“Al-Qaeda, which was very, very advanced and very, very impressive in its use of new technology, is, I think, a bit behind the curve,” Kimmage says. “They are sort of stuck in Web 1.0. They are producing what they think is the coolest content, the best videos, the most impressive press releases. And they are creating the most sophisticated — the best network — to distribute it to the web. What’s missing is interactivity in user-generated content — a world in which users generate a lot of the content and in which people what to interact with others. Al-Qaeda really seems stuck in the old model.

“In 2006, Al-Qaeda released a big position paper and they warned their supporters against creating their own content. They said this was ‘media exuberance’ and that their supporters should let the official distribution and production groups handle this,” Kimmage continues. “Even when Al-Qaeda has tried to be interactive, it is quite old-fashioned. So the question that we end up with is: Al-Qaeda — which had done so well using the Internet to spread its message over the last few years — are they now doomed to fade with this new more interactive and user-generated network? And will they be replaced by a much larger, much more integrated, much freer, much more empowered world in which it is very difficult to control messages and in which no one has a monopoly on information?”

Kimmage concludes that the desire of Al-Qaeda’s media-production teams to strictly control the messages being put out on the Internet could ultimately backfire, causing Al-Qaeda to lose support from its sympathizers.

I’ll admit it: I’ve always thought that “Web 2.0” was mostly marketing hooey. But if it turns out to be responsible for the decline of al-Qaeda, then sign me up as a true believer. Who would have guessed that blog commenters would turn out to be the Achilles heel of the international jihadist movement?