This variable regards how information is dispersed, acquired, and responded to by your civilization. Media plays a large role in this section of analysis, but don’t restrict yourself to the modern ideas of media.
Dispersal of information can come in many forms. Print, digital, television, written notes, pamphlets, coded messages. All of those, and many other forms, will either determine or be determined by your society. The power of these words can be the climactic change of your story, or they can be the underlying secrets in society. Whatever side you’re choosing to send information between societies, peoples, or friends, think about how the chosen medium of communication affects your story. Let’s look at a quick example.
Leviathan Wakes by S.A. Corey
Leviathan Wakes is a great example of information and how its dispersal affects the story. Each choice that the main character, James Holden, makes regarding information drives the story on to the next phase. When the Canterbury, an ice hauler, investigates an emergency beacon, Holden discovers a harrowing discovery. Then, when he suffers a significant loss, Holden releases all the information to the public. In his mind it’s the right move, but the results become disastrous across the solar system. That it wasn’t a politically charged statement didn’t matter to the listeners. Release of the incomplete information forced the hands of leaders, terrorist factions, and other groups. Not to mention, Holden wasn’t more than an Executive Officer on an ice hauler. You don’t need grand people to release information to create dramatic reactions. This also ties into the next section, media.
Media significantly influences information. Television and internet platforms can broadcast live images of military and other actions and then manipulate it for their own purposes. As shown in the above example, it can allow for the mass spread of a single piece of information without lag. But your world may not work within the confines of the Sci-Fi community. So, look at your world and check its levels of communication.
Are you working in a western settlement where messages are still sent by the pony express, train, or carrier pigeon?
Maybe you’re developing new fantasy worlds where communication can be sent through magical stones only the elders may access.
Do your characters live in small towns where whispers carry the town gossip and truth?
Or are you in a big city where cyclists, newspapers, and newscasts rule the information dispersal?
This concerns both civil and military channels of information. So, if they play a part, consider how the military personnel communicate. Most military forces use an encryption, unless all that’s left in your world is walkies-talkies. Even then, there will be some kind of coded language to hide a message’s true meaning. Think of the code breakers in WWII and how they impacted the war efforts.
Information is such a dismissed by high-impact part of your story. While you may not use all of this information for your novel, they are things to keep in mind as you work through your world building. Thank you for reading, and as always, stay fresh, my nugs.
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