Social Science blog

10 posts from August 2013

30 August 2013

The Internet, Social Media and Propaganda: The Final Frontier?

Dr Peter Johnston is an historian and lecturer who recently worked on researching and writing labels and other text to accompany our Propaganda: Power and Persuasion exhibition. 

Until the invention of the radio, the means of disseminating propaganda remained much the same throughout millennia. Monuments, public speeches, coins, and the growing use of the printed word, were all common forms of propaganda from the time of Alexander the Great to the reign of Queen Victoria.

However, with the rapid technological change of the twentieth century, propaganda similarly underwent a massive change. The development of the radio – which Lenin called “a newspaper without paper… and without boundaries” – and in particular the moving image, first in cinemas, and then via televisions that ensured moving pictures could be brought into the home, gave propaganda even greater reach.

The growth of the internet, however, has transformed propaganda beyond anything those tasked with its production and spread in earlier generations could have imagined. The internet is a wilderness of information that is, unlike previous methods of disseminating propaganda, near impossible to regulate or officiate. What’s more, with the extent that we engage with this medium, and use it to share, spread and promote information, we have all become propagandists!

This thesis of course depends on the definition of propaganda. My preferred definition is that of the late Phil Taylor, who wrote that “essentially, propaganda is really no more than the communication of ideas designed to persuade people to think and behave in a desired way.” That means that, when engaging in social media, promoting ideas from politicians, intellectuals, friends, musicians or corporations through likes, shares, retweets and more, we are promoting that information and attempting to influence how people think about these things. How is that not engaging in the spread of propaganda?

Propaganda is not the insidious, deceptive, manipulative pattern of negatively influencing behaviour that many people consider it to be. While there’s no doubt it has been used for those purposes in the past, and continues to do so in the present, propaganda has also been used for good, in the spread of public health messaging, for example. Therefore, propaganda itself is an ethically neutral idea – it is the content that varies.

Due to the growth of the internet, and in particular the explosion of social media, the information-generating process has been democratised. Whenever we post an opinion on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media site, we are issuing propaganda, a piece of information designed to make those who read it think about an issue or behave in a certain way conducive to what we want them to. Corporations have realised this, which is why they have such an active social media presence. Branding and advertising has become a major aspect of social media for all businesses, with a far greater personalisation to match the needs of consumers. By promoting brands, we are engaging in issuing propaganda on their behalf. 

Social media has enormous potential, which is why China, for example, has its own social media site, Weibo. In the popular revolutions, uprisings and protests across the world in recent years, social media has played a major part in mobilising, informing and influencing public opinion and shaping consensus of events from around the world. Modern communications are utilised by both sides, and it is here that the modern propaganda and information war is fought, in front of a global audience.

However, such a tool is not without its weaknesses. Disinformation regularly occurs, with fake or doctored pictures being used. Social media has the potential to spread information rapidly around the world. The recent uprising in Egypt has seen such images, and as testament to the times it is through other social media that such falsehoods are exposed. However, due to the sheer nature of information being generated on social media sites, reactions are often instantaneous, without any deep analysis being given. In that way, many people are often unwilling propagandists, deceived by the speed at which information is generated that compels an instantaneous response.

Social media also carries the potential for anonymity, and recently there have been several cases where accounts have been exposed as fake, or deliberately designed for political purposes. Such accounts operate very much in the black propaganda mould that was seen throughout the First and Second World Wars, deceptive propaganda that was issued under one guise but emanated from another source. This direct parallel demonstrates just how important social media is in the ongoing information war.  

Because of this, it means that you should never instantly believe everything you read, and that the same rules of scepticism and analysis need to be applied to digital propaganda as to any other, namely:

  • Who is producing the propaganda?
  • What they are saying?
  • Who is the propaganda directed at? Who are the intended audience?
  • Why?
  • With what effect?

By doing so, a critical engagement with information can be maintained.

Propaganda has always evolved along with communications technology. As new ways develop to spread information, so too will they be used to spread propaganda. That is what propaganda is! As such, the internet may currently be the final frontier, but there’s no reason not to think horizons will be extended further in future.

You can follow Dr Peter Johnston on Twitter @PeteAJohnston 

27 August 2013

Football Association 1863 Minute Book

Gill Ridgley, Lead Curator for Sociology, Cultural Studies and Sport writes about the background to the FA 1863 Minute Book which is now on display at the British Library.

The British Library and the Football Association joined forces on Wednesday 21 August to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the setting down of the laws of football.

Amid much excitement, the FA Minute Book, which contains the first laws of the game, was ceremoniously placed in an exhibition cabinet in the Library’s Treasures Gallery alongside a small selection of football books in the British Library’s own collections. Present were numerous eager media representatives, FA officials, and most notably, Greg Dyke, the Chairman of the FA, and Roy Hodgson, the England football manager.

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Above: Football Association 1863 Minute Book – contains the 13 original laws of football. Photo by British Library Image Services. Copyright © The British Library

The minute book, which is on loan to the British Library for the next four months, contains the deliberations of eight men who gathered on 26 October 1863 in the Freemasons Tavern in Holborn. Their aim was to draw up a series of laws regulating a game which was played throughout the country, but which was bedevilled by different interpretations of how matches should be played. By providing a proper legal framework, the game was able to spread much more widely, and British men working or living abroad were quick to foster it in their adoptive countries. Football under FA rules was rapidly taken up in South America and Italy, exported there by engineers, scientists and expatriates.

There are only 13 laws in the minute book itself, a far cry from the many rules now in place, and these were carefully written down by Ebenezer Morley (the first secretary of the FA) in a neat and legible hand. One of the rules sets down the dimensions of the pitch; another describes the goal (two upright posts with no crossbar) and another – most importantly - declares that ‘no player shall carry the ball’. This particular prohibition finally helped to distinguish the game from rugby football, and both games were thereby able to develop, and flourish, independently.

The small display is actually the first football-related exhibition held by the Library and contains a tiny selection of early soccer publications chosen by Gill Ridgley and Jude England of the Social Sciences team. Among them are fanzines, early football calendars, manuals and referees’ guides to the laws. There are also sound clips recalling the exploits of the great Stanley Matthews. Surrounded by these smaller treasures, the FA Minute Book holds centre stage,  co-existing very comfortably with iconic items like Magna Carta.

23 August 2013

Propaganda: Speakers' Corner at the British Library 2- 5 September 2013

Ian Cooke, co-curator of 'Propaganda: Power and Persuasion' writes about our new series of lunchtime debates with the Speakers' Corner Trust. Join speakers Dr Evan Harris, Ruth Fox, Anthony Barnett and Dr Agnès Callamard to discuss issues of propaganda, news, truth, censorship and public interest.

We’ve been asking for your reactions by Twitter #blpropaganda to our Propaganda exhibition and have been getting some very interesting comments and examples, relating to the UK and around the world. The best thing about our events and public tours for Propaganda has been the chance to talk to people who have been coming to the exhibition, and find out more about your reactions and opinions on propaganda.

Starting on Monday 2 September, and running for four days, we’re inviting you to come to the British Library to take part in a series of lunchtime public debates that respond to themes raised in our exhibiton. I’ve been really excited about these events, which we’ve been planning in partnership with Speakers' Corner Trust. This is a subject that lends itself very well to public debate, and the enthusiasm and thoughtfulness of people that I’ve spoken to has been one of the things that I’ve enjoyed most about curating this exhibition.

Above: Free Speech Reason Progress by Simon Gibbs from London, United Kingdom   Cc-by

Each debate is free to attend, and we’ll be looking to you to contribute your arguments, opinions and thoughts on each theme. We’ll be meeting at 1pm each day, in the Poets Circle on our Piazza – or inside the Library if the weather is not so good.

We’ve got a fantastic line up of speakers to provide an introduction to each of our events, more details as follows:

Monday 2 September: Dr Evan Harris, Associate Director, Hacked Off Campaign
Is the News Propaganda?
What we read in our daily paper is shaped by the interests of the proprietor, the preoccupations of the editor, the resources of the news desk and competition with its rivals to win audiences and advertisers. How likely is it that we will find the truth?

Tuesday 3 September: Ruth Fox, Director of the Hansard Society
Thank Goodness for Propaganda! 
Can propaganda ever serve a public interest? If so, where should the line be drawn and by whom?

Wednesday 4 September: Anthony Barnett, Founder of openDemocracy
New Media – New Propaganda?
Does the internet spell an end to propaganda, allowing more democratic communication and quicker responses to events – or does it simply provide new means for the state, and others, to manipulate information and opinion?

Thursday 5 September: Agnès Callamard, Executive Director of Article 19
Your Propaganda - My Free Speech
How should we deal with the propaganda of hate? How do we challenge it? Does propaganda have a role to play in democracy's defence? Can censorship ever be justified and if so in what circumstances?

I hope to see you at the British Library for a great series of debates. If you’re after some inspiration to get involved, have a look at our videos from the exhibition.    

22 August 2013

When did we ever have it so good? Part 2 of the iPod generation

Abiola Olanipekun is an intern at the British Library. This latest blog post is number two in a series of four which reflects on reports about the ‘iPod generation’ which appear on the Management and Business Studies portal and were published by Reform in 2006. 

This second blog post about the ‘iPod generation’ continues to follow the envisaged bleak turn of events for this generation. Before I start, you may want to read part one of this series here.

After my first posting, I re-read ‘Class of 2006: A lifebelt for the iPod generation’ and it confirmed that in 2006 there was no supposed ‘happy ever after’ or even a semi-decent outcome in sight, just a doomed financial future for this generation. Will there ever be any ‘Green Shoots’ at this miserable point? Knowing what happened to the economy in the years that follow suggest not.

Should you, as a member of our erudite audience, wish to see this report then feel free (once more) to click here. It’s free to download from our MBS Portal.

As I read the second report in the series by Reform, I wondered about the relationship between how the evidence is researched and presented, and how it is received. In my first post I received the information as an inquisitive person but certainly felt miserable by the end of the report. This time around it I feel more miserable than I ever did! Knowing that many of the bleak predictions came true in one way or another make the warning produced by Reform even more depressing.

Below are just a few of the points and observations made at the time of this report. Whether this may or may not be the case for today is another debate…

  • Young people’s earnings were rising by less than any other age group
  • Young people were most likely to be in debt
  • House prices had continued to rise beyond the range of young people’s earning
  • Older people will gain from a rising state pension linked to earnings. 
  • Young people funding the increase in the state pension at the same time as facing automatic contributions of 3 per cent of their salary. 

This report generally confirms that is predicting bad news like the first report.

When the baby boomers are referred to as ‘winning’ the generation game it sets the generations against one another in an insulting way as it reminds of how the older generations have benefited from the welfare state. Or maybe my sense of humour has left because I (like a lot of my age group) am so poor and frustrated feel the reality of these generational differences.

I must stress now though that I am in no way carrying out a ‘Debbie Downer’ type approach to these pieces because that would negate the areas where progress has been made for the young. I also am grateful that the situation for the young people here is not as bad as it is in some other European countries, but recent news stories have also shown that there is economy uncertainty and poor employment conditions for many. Fixed-term contracts, or worse, zero hour contracts do not have a place in my heart. I am hoping for something other than more economic instability.

19 August 2013

On Patriotism: Propaganda in the Library’s Canadian Photographic Collection

Dr. Philip Hatfield, Curator for Canadian and Caribbean Studies at the British Library writes on photographs, patriotism and propaganda in this guest blog post.

Above: Sarah Charlton’s ‘Living Union Jack’ (Ontario 1898). Available from Wikimedia Commons.

As the British Library’s ‘Propaganda’ exhibition highlights the methods of this medium are more than just finger-pointing and draconian messaging. Indeed, it has a role in everyday life in war time, peace time and private time.

One form of message that pervades all these different times and spaces is the iconography of patriotism; for the British, the Union Flag that adorns cushions, cricket pitches and camouflage uniforms across the country is the best example. I was reminded of this recently when browsing the Library’s recently digitised collection of Canadian photographs, which can now be found on Wikimedia Commons.

Above: Joseph Clarke’s, ‘Likeness on a Maple Leaf with Union Jack as background’ (1900). Available from Wikimedia Commons.

Today we think of Canada’s symbol as being the Maple Leaf but at the beginning of the twentieth century Canadians showed as much affinity to the Union Flag as to the symbols of maples and beavers. This is borne out by the many occurrences of the flag in the collection, from ‘living’ pictures and humorous memorabilia, to commemorative portraits and symbols to rally behind in times of war.

The above ‘Living Union Jack’ photograph is one of the collection’s eccentric oddities (and slightly let down by the incorrect hanging of the Union Flags in the background) but it speaks to the fondness people held for the symbol and, I would suggest, it’s viability as an image people would consume; this was most likely sold as a postcard.

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Above: Ronald Mumford’s, ‘Canadian Patriotic Indian Chiefs’ (1915, one of a series of four). Available from Wikimedia Commons.

The flag’s most common role is in war portraits, commemorative photographs taken before or after a soldier left to fight in British conflicts. The ‘Likeness on a Union Jack’ photograph shares this style although this was perhaps reproduced as a card in support Canadian volunteers for the South African War of 1900 . In the case of the final photograph what we see is pure propaganda, a group of First Nations chiefs posed with a Union Flag to suggest their support for the First World War.

Many from the First Nations were involved in British wars but the exact agency of the individuals in this photograph is unclear. What is also unclear is to what extent we should regard the other photographs shown here as propaganda? No doubt people would feel differently about the images depending on their political affiliations but are the implicit nationalistic sentiments of the ‘Living Union Jack’ on a par with the message of war time allegiance embedded in the ‘Patriotic Indian Chiefs’ photograph?

I would argue not, yet the symbol of the Union accompanies each of these photographs and it communicates a message of trans-national solidarity, to varying degrees, in each one. What we see here, then, is the magic of propaganda; amusing in some situations, comforting in others, forceful at its extremes and always there, embedded in the symbols we see every day.

Read more posts by Philip on the Americas blog.

16 August 2013

Gert and Daisy on The Kitchen Front: Celebrity, humour and public opinion in the Second World War

Ian Cooke, co-curator of Propaganda: Power and Persuasion showcases some of the photographs and messages created by members of the public during the 'Write, Camera, Action!' days at the end of July. - See more at:

Ian Cooke, co-curator of 'Propaganda: Power and Persuasion' writes about how radio programmes such as 'The Kitchen Front' were used to communicate with the public about rationing and food-use during wartime.

In our exhibition, Propaganda: Power and Persuasion, you can hear an excerpt from the BBC radio programme The Kitchen Front. Broadcast on 20 December 1941, it features the characters Gert and Daisy, giving a recipe for mutton cooked as turkey (“murkey”).

The Kitchen Front was broadcast daily, following the 8am news bulletin, and was one of the BBC’s most-popular shows during the Second World War, with regular audiences of 5- 7 million. The programme was conceived as a means by which the Ministry of Food could communicate with the British public, explaining about rationing schemes, encouraging the use of foods which were more generally-available, and discouraging food waste. Additionally, the programme intended to boost morale, using humour and characters who were recognisable or familiar to the listening public.

Gert and Daisy were the creations of performers Elsie Waters and her sister Doris Ethel Waters. The characters were already popular before the War, having appeared at two Royal Variety performances in the 1920s and 1930s and releasing recordings of their sketches and songs. For two weeks in April 1940, Gert and Daisy performed Feed the Brute, a 5 minute programme broadcast at the end of the 6pm evening news, to give recipes and advice on food. The use of humour, and popular characters, was a huge success.

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Above: Gert and Daisy's Wartime Cookery Book

Public response to the April 1940 broadcasts were analysed by Mass Observation, who interviewed 300 listeners in London and Lancashire. The survey found that positive comments outweighed negative by 8 to 1, and that the information given on food was regarded as useful. Referring to the use of comedy in the broadcasts, Mass Observation concluded, ‘This experimental series was an undoubted success, and revealed a valuable new method of giving out serious educational instruction to millions of housewives’ – comparing this approach to more “high-brow” forms of delivery, the authors state, ‘Gert and Daisy knock spots off Professor Harlow’s Empire Crusade’. However, it wasn’t just the comedy and popularity of the characters, but also their apparent familiarity, that was seen as effective. The language used in their dialogue, and their working class London accents, made them identifiable to their target audience. The two criticisms of the programmes related to the perceived extravagance and complexity of the recipes (a complaint that would persist through The Kitchen Front broadcasts), and the timing of the programme. Many women commented that they were too busy to listen at this time in the evening.    

Within two months, The Kitchen Front began broadcasting at the earlier time of 8.15am, following the news broadcast. Following on from the success of Feed the Brute, popular broadcasters and use of humour were the show’s staple ingredients. Alongside Gert and Daisy, series regulars included S P B Mais, Freddie Grisewood (best known for his later role as chair of the series Any Questions?), and Mabel Constanduros (performing as the Buggins family).  

The popularity of the programme was marked by letters sent to the presenters, addressed both to the BBC and Ministry of Food, suggesting recipes and asking for more information. Recipe books from the series were published regularly, and included listener suggestions (described by S P B Mais as, ‘invitations to adventures in the unknown’). As well as broadcasts on the radio, demonstrations were held at schools, factories and other public places.

Throughout the war, the BBC remained active in evaluating the impact of all its broadcasts, and, as one of its most listened-to programmes, The Kitchen Front featured in many of its reports. As well as commissioning research from Mass Observation, public opinion was monitored through the BBC’s Listener Research Department. Listener Research was set up in 1936, using social research methods to develop reliable indicators of listener habits and preferences. As well as quantitative estimates of audience figures, qualitative methods were used to understand listener values and behaviours. Methods had much in common with Mass Observation, which was set up in 1937, and the Ministry of Information’s own Home Intelligence Division. At the start of the War, the Listener Research Department set about creating a cohort of 2,000 listeners who would be asked to complete monthly questionnaires. The questionnaires would ask about specific programmes and viewing habits, but also about attitudes relating to the war, and more general matters of personal taste. This information supplemented the daily interviews conducted with a changing sample of 800 members of the population, used to determine audience figures.

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Above: The Kitchen Front - 122 Wartime Recipes

As the war continued research showed that, while audience numbers held up, the popularity of The Kitchen Front began to wane. BBC Listener Research in 1942 showed that 31% of those expressing an opinion thought that the quality of the programme had deteriorated. By 1943, the series was described as ‘going off’’. Reasons for the decline were uncertain, with the 1943 report suggesting that, ‘It may well be that the charge of declining quality is no more than a reflection of the housewife’s increasing weariness of the whole business of catering under wartime conditions’. A Home Intelligence Division report titled ‘Housewives’ attitudes towards Official Campaigns and Instructions’, dated 14 May 1943, suggested a similar problem for home propaganda more generally. The report argued, ‘housewives are now impervious to “the flood of official propaganda” and that they select from it only the information that seems essential to them.’ Cinema and radio faired better than other formats with posters and leaflets being seen by some at this time as, ‘a waste of paper’.

Radio broadcasting was seen as highly important in influencing opinion and behaviour in Britain during the Second World War, and became viewed as a more durable medium than print-based sources. The BBC was therefore of high strategic importance (its only competitors were enemy stations such as Radio Hamburg, broadcasting to Britain), and research on public opinion seen as vital in maintaining effectiveness and understanding what worked in gaining public support. The research methods developed and used by Mass Observation and the BBC’s own Listener Research Department became an essential tool in Britain’s war effort.   

References and sources used

BBC Listener Research Department. 1942 (February). Trend in the quality of ten long series. LR/770.

BBC Listener Research Department. 1943 (July). Trend in the quality of long series. LR/1973. (Accessed via British Online Archives, available in the British Library’s Reading Rooms.)

1941. Food Facts for the Kitchen Front: A book of wartime recipes and hints. British Library shelfmark: 7946.aa.15

P.J. Bruce (ed.). 1942. The Kitchen Front: 122 recommended recipes selected from broadcasts by Mabel Constanduros, Freddie Grisewood, etc. British Library shelfmark: 7946.df.24.

Ambrose Heath. 1941. Kitchen Front recipes & hints: Extracts from the first seven month’s early morning broadcasts. British Library shelfmark: 7945.p.12

Ambrose Heath. 1941. More Kitchen Front recipes: Further extracts from the early morning broadcasts with other recipes and hints. British Library shelfmark: 7946.a.17

S.P.B. Mais. 1941. Calling again: My Kitchen Front talks with some results on the listener. British Library shelfmark: 7946.a.8

Mass Observation. 1940 (April). Gert and Daisy’s BBC talks. File Report 77.

Mass Observation. 1941. Home Propaganda: A Report Prepared by Mass-Observation for the Advertising Service Guild.

Accessed via Mass Observation Online, available in the British Library’s Reading Rooms

Ministry of Information. 1943. Housewives’ attitudes towards official campaigns and instructions. Home Intelligence special report number 44, 14 May. Available at The National Archives, reference INF 1/293

Siân Nicholas. 2006. The good servant: the origins and development of BBC Listener Research 1936-1950, Accessed via British Online Archives. Last updated: 27 February 2008.
(Available in the British Library’s Reading Rooms)

Dorothy Santer (ed.). 1944. The Kitchen Front: Recipes broadcast during 1942-43 by Frederick Grisewood, Mabel Constanduros and others, specially selected by the Ministry of Food. British Library shelfmark: 7948.a.16

Elsie & Doris Waters. 1941. Gert & Daisy’s Wartime Cookery Book. British Library shelfmark: 7945.p.9

13 August 2013

ODIN Project 1st Year Event @ CERN - October 2013

The ORCiD and DataCite Interoperability Network (ODIN) project, which BL Social Sciences are a project partner are holding a community event for those interested in persistent identifiers for research objects and researchers and contributors.

We are now only two months away from the first major ODIN community event. The combined codesprint and 1st year conference which mark the half-way point of the 2-year project will take place over three days October 15-17, hosted by ODIN partners CERN. This event - the first of the two major ODIN community events - will be a combination of a traditional-style conference and a technology-focused, hands-on codesprint geared towards developers. The conference part of the event will enable the ODIN partners to disseminate findings and to obtain feedback & validation on the work completed so far. The codesprint part will be a venue for participants and invited experts to work together to assemble concrete demonstrations of the potential of open and interoperable identifier systems.

Coding with confidence

The codesprint part of the event is a 11/2 day-and-night hands-on technical workshop. Participants from several ODIN partner organizations and external experts will come together to pool their resources and work on coding projects. These projects will demonstrate the potential of the identifier “awareness layer” which is at the heart of ODIN’s mission.

See this page for a provisional list of codesprint projects. We will have more to say about the specific goals and practicalities for the codesprint in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, feel free to register, to contact us with questions, and/or to leave suggestions about additional projects.

Engaging with the community

The final day of the event is a conventional plenary-style conference open to all, where ODIN partners will present results from the first half of the 2-year project and receive feedback from the community. In addition to ODIN partners themselves, representatives from numerous stakeholder organizations will attend and present, including CrossRef, CERIF/EuroCRIS, UK Data Service, PLoS and others.

A provisional schedule for the conference is available here.

Date with a supercollider

Large Hadron Collider (credit:

For those of us who have not visited CERN before, one item in the event programme looks particularly exciting: a guided tour of the massive Large Hadron Collider facility which our hosts at CERN have organized.

Check the event page on the ODIN website for the latest information, including the tentative programme, a list of confirmed speakers, accommodation and more: 


This entry was re-posted from the ODIN Project blog


08 August 2013

Write, Camera, Action!

Ian Cooke, co-curator of Propaganda: Power and Persuasion showcases some of the photographs and messages created by members of the public during the 'Write, Camera, Action!' days at the end of July.

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Art of Persuasian

What does propaganda mean to you? What message would you want to spread and how would you do it? On 30- 31 July, we held “Write, Camera, Action!” - for two days you could write your own message and have your picture taken in our pop-up photo studio, in costume if you liked. It was an event for all ages, linked to our Propaganda: Power and Persuasion exhibition. Looking over the 80 or so photographs from the day, it’s interesting to see how people reacted to the exhibition and the idea of campaigning.

Picking up on the call to ‘Action!’ lots of the photographs encouraged others to do or stop doing something, or to adopt a point of view. This comes close to our interpretation of propaganda in the exhibition, of communication intended to change opinions and behaviour, or reinforce existing opinions or behaviour in a way that benefits the communicator. The most popular theme was around rights, equality and respect.

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The Right to Live for everyone

Other messages were about peace and non-violence, the importance of sport and arts, and other personal interests (including origami).

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Art is for everyone!

I could only see one case where the attempt was to make a change that was to benefit the communicator – although you can decide for yourself who is the most successful propagandist here.

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Homework is Torture!! Homework is very important for learning

Although a lot of the contributions were light-hearted and not always serious, there were some reminders of the power of humour in more serious campaigns, providing a sense of solidarity or hope.

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I am Bradley Manning

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Cancer can be stopped. Don’t give up hope!

Some people also commented directly about propaganda, or drew on images and themes from the exhibition. My favourite uses the famous “I want you” recruitment pose, and creates a simple division between ‘us’ and ‘them’ (although personally I’m uncertain where I stand on the Daft Punk/ Kraftwerk divide).

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daft Punk needs you!!! to destroy Kraftwerk/ Nas

Of the costumes and props available, the magician’s top hat appeared frequently, perhaps reflecting an association between ‘propaganda’ and sleight-of-hand misdirection.

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'Propaganda’ is a distraction away from the truth. Got ya!

Exclamation marks and simple pictures made for effective images. One of the strongest photos, from quite a young child, simply had a picture of a person in uniform holding a gun at another figure with an empty speech bubble coming out of their mouth.

The two days showed a great variety and creativity in the use of quite simple materials and props. A lot of people just wanted to record a personal message, and these were overwhelmingly positive ones. Almost without exception, people wanted to talk about what they loved and what enthused them.

So perhaps the best advice is to appeal to this sense of optimism and keep your message simple.

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Always wear pink!

And look like you mean it.

Ian Cooke, co-curator of Propaganda: Power and Persuasion provides a round-up of propaganda inspired blogs from other British Library bloggers. - See more at:

Vote for Vee (for Victory and be happy)

WEB Veronica permission to use

With thanks to everyone who took part in 'Write, Camera, Action!' and particularly those who gave permission for us to reuse their images, and our photographer Othello De’Souza-Hartley. Our pop-up photography studio, and workshops for children, will be back on 8 September for Super Family Sunday: The end of Propaganda.