There has been much ado about the “Occupy Wall Street” Movement here in the US during September and October of 2011. The late night news on 12 September had extensive coverage of how the ‘movement’ was spreading throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
As it turns out, I was attending the 1st San Jose Cyber Security Summit at the San Jose, CA City Hall. After watching the news last night I was more than curious to see the extent of the protest live. I took the photo in today’s posting using my iPhone, so I can assure you it was not retouched in any way. It turns out to be a ‘long shot’ with the tent accommodations of some of the protestors in the foreground and a bunch of ‘protestors’ about 75 feet away near Santa Clara Street, the main thoroughfare near the City Hall.
If the effect makes the entire effort look sparse – it’s because it was! This is in stark contrast to the tight shots being used on TV last night which gave the viewer the impression that there were quite a bit more protestors than in reality.
What’s all mean? Gatherings of crowds can serve useful purposes of anyone who is astute enough to photograph them in a way that supports their case. Magnifying the size and scope of a gathering serves to amplify the message. This amplification can serve to stimulate recruitment, increase media coverage, provide useful ‘background roll” for later use or all of the above.
Merely showing a group of people protesting doesn’t prove anything by itself. Analysts would have to look at the objective size of the crowd, their demographics, trends in the previous days or weeks and compare this analysis with other similar situations.
For influence professionals it’s a gift! Images of various demographic groups, particularly individuals whose image clearly portrays a specific group can be very effective in promoting one’s cause. Counter propaganda analysts need to not only perform the objective analysis , but determine the potential uses our enemy could make of the images and recommend what the best counter messages might be.
In the Internet age the local protest can turn into the strategic message very quickly.