February 27, 2003

Be Ready

I saw a full page ad in a US broadsheet newspaper for the US Department for Homeland Security's "Be Ready" campaign which got me thinking about the whole aspect of public service announcements and "social training".

The "Be Ready" campaign is obviously a very high profile example of "community social engineering", all about changing the way a group of people collectively think and act in a common direction.

Even if people don't agree with what the line the US DHS is taking, I bet pretty much everyone in America is aware of the www.ready.gov URL and are discussing the subject of disaster preparation at work and with friends, even if it's only to satire the subject.

Good examples of community social engineering are everywhere - one close to home is the "Stand on the Right" signs on the escalators in Tube stations in London, allowing the left hand side to act as an "express lane" for people who want/need to rush down (or even up if you are feeling fit).
It is also something that drives London commuters absolutely WILD when visitors to the Capital don't follow the signs and end up blocking routes and slow down progress for everyone.

Only time will tell whether the same community spirit and "peer pressure to confirm" will build around the DHS Be Ready campaign.

Footnote: I am using the general term "social engineering" here in its widest Sociology context, rather than in its more recent Hacker/Cracker connotations, although both forms ultimately have the same underlying meaning and source I think:

Social engineering is the art and science of getting people to do what you want or need them to do.
Entry categories: General
Posted by Jorgen Thelin at February 27, 2003 04:00 PM - [PermaLink]
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