On Wednesday 1st June, British journalist, author, and TV producer David Patrikarakos visited Oriel to speak about the war in Ukraine and the impact of widespread Russian disinformation. The talk was hosted by the Provost, Lord Mendoza, alongside Fellow in Politics Professor Teresa Bejan and was attended by students, academics, and staff.
David, who has authored books such as Nuclear Iran: Birth of An Atomic State and War in 140 Characters: How Social Media Is Reshaping Conflict in the Twenty-First Century, had recently returned from Ukraine, where he unintentionally ended up in the centre of the conflict, reporting from within as war broke out. In his own words, he ‘was right there at the beginning’.
David began his talk by introducing some of his previous work, including concepts from his TED Talk about Russian ‘troll farms’ and how perceptions of conflicts can be skewed and altered through social media.
He argued that the prolific use of ‘information warfare’ makes Ukraine ‘the ‘first war’ of the 21st century’, in the sense that it is one of the first wars to be live-streamed and covered in such depth, both through official news channels and via social media on a global scale.
David presented a thought-experiment to the audience, telling them: ‘imagine if you could stream from the trenches of World War I’. How would it change our perception of the war, and what impact would it have? He followed up: ‘The fact that you can record every atrocity changes the impact of war’.
An enthusiastic Q&A session followed, which saw an engaged audience eager to present various questions to David: ranging from the role of disinformation in China to ways of spotting conflicts arising and unfolding in the present day.
Oriel Scholarship for Ukrainian Graduate Student:
As part of a joint initiative with the University, Oriel has pledged to accept at least one Ukrainian refugee graduate student whose studies have been interrupted by the war on a full scholarship for the next academic year, waiving the cost of fees, living, travel, and associated expenses during their time here.
If you would like to help this cause, click here to make a gift and help us to provide a home in Oxford for an extremely talented Ukrainian student.