Dog Cartoon Information Warfare for the 21st Century

Russia’s attack on Ukraine has generated a lot of attention. Many people care deeply about this unfolding crisis. I wondered back in March 2022 where all this energy would end up getting channeled?

What I had in mind was not an army of “cartoon dogs”, and yet here we are. Official coverage of the #NAFO dog memes this week has come from the Economist and Politico.

The North Atlantic Fella Organisation (spellings vary) is a tongue-in-cheek label adopted by a virtual army that champions Ukraine’s cause and harangues its foes on social media. Its members don the avatar of a cartoon shiba inu dog…

When your enemy is as humorless as Putin, there is an advantage to being funny. After circulating in internet backwaters for weeks, official Ukrainian accounts have acknowledged the help offered by the movement.

The effects of #NAFO are 1) to influence the flow of information/opinions and 2) raise money for Ukraine defense.

For example, you can buy a “ticket” to a “beach party” in Crimea: https://www.saintjavelin.com/products/crimea-beach-party-early-bird-ticket-sale-1-entry

Mike posted earlier about donating to the Kyiv department of Economics.

And this is a just an aid organization that is not very funny but helps refugees in Lviv.

An explainer of a different Very Online thing is https://www.slowboring.com/p/dark-brandon-explained. Dark Brandon and #NAFO are similar in the sense that supporters are made to feel like they are part of a brotherhood of winners who share fun jokes.

Balaji Srinivasan recently released a book called The Network State suggesting that online communities of likeminded people are so powerful that they could supplant what we have known as “countries” for a few centuries. From what I can tell, families want to live in a real place that has tangible services and security. The interesting thing about #NAFO is that it’s purpose is to support an old-fashioned country defending its physical borders.

Meanwhile, in the country of Russia, as reported by the WSJ, “The chairman of Russia’s second-largest oil-and-gas giant, Lukoil PJSC, died Thursday after falling from a hospital window in Moscow, according to Russian state media agency TASS.”

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