www.MountainRunner.us

A Blog on Understanding, Informing, Empowering, and Influencing Global Publics, published by Matt Armstrong

Challenge of Change – 1961 Bell Labs film on communication

Looking into the future from the past is often fascinating. A Bell Labs film from 1961 on the changing communication environment predicts the future information age as it projects its technology into the future. This includes machine to machine communication, online ordering, e-commerce, and cellular phones, is no different. The underlying purpose is preparing the audience for change.

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Science and Technology for Communication and Persuasion Abroad: Gap Analysis and Survey

Since 9/11, the U.S. Government has invested heavily in technology-based solutions to understanding, informing, and influencing people around the world and across a variety of mediums. Many of these efforts were sponsored by the Defense Department for reasons that include major appropriations by the Congress, a capability (and culture) of contracting, a capability (and culture) of development, and an imperative for action (non-action may result in an unnecessary death).

In 2009, the Defense Department’s Rapid Reaction Technology Office (RRTO) surveyed the landscape of science and technology programs intended to support Strategic Communication with the purpose of identifying gaps between capabilities and requirements as well as suggesting areas of improvement.

In 2011, the RRTO commissioned the Center for Naval Analysis to update the 2009 report. The new report, written by CNA’s Will McCants and entitled “Science and Technology for Communication and Persuasion Abroad: Gap Analysis and Survey,” (7mb PDF) is now available.

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Discussions on Digital Diplomacy

imageThe July/August issue of PDiN Monitor, the electronic review of public diplomacy in the news by the USC Center on Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School, focuses on the subject of Digital Diplomacy.

In “Beyond the Blackberry Ban: Realpolitik and the Negotiation of Digital Rights,” Shawn Powers looks at the Blackberry data network as a component of the global communications grid called for by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In doing so, Shawn asks,

…shouldn’t we be talking about the importance of maintaining the sanctity of such a network, and even thinking through how to get more secure, BlackBerry devices in the hands of civil society advocates and leaders in the Middle East? Or would such a strategy backfire, similar to the way U.S. arms sales to mujahidin during the Cold War continue to thwart American policy in Afghanistan today? …

But what would a world with ubiquitous secure, mobile communications actually look like? Would democracy and civil society flourish, or would hateful and violent groups be better able to organize and plan their terrorizing of society?

While I disagree with Shawn’s characterization of Wikileaks in his article as an organization “whose primary mission is to enhance democratic deliberations and accountability through transparency”, his points about the tension between the freedom and security of information exchange are valuable fodder for a serious discussion on the issue.

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State of the Internet

You’ve seen Did You Know 4.0, the update to Shift Happens that focuses on the changing media landscape, including convergence and technology. The convergence readers of this blog will appreciate is what I call “Now Media“: the reality that information influences, not platforms. Information is increasingly platform independent and platform jumping. Each mode of consumption will have certain advantages and disadvantages over other modes. Further, the consumption channel may not be the same as the delivery channel. This all conspires against the antiquated terms “new media” and “old media” that describe the conflict of broadcast/print and the Internet. As I often ask in my presentations, seminars, and classes: When you or your principal speaks to the BBC or The New York Times, do you specify the comments are only for the broadcast or print edition? Is the Associated Press new media when you get it via Yahoo and old media when you read it in The Washington Post?

Although it is not always the “last three feet” between an event and a consumer (which may or may not be the media itself), the Internet is instrumental in how information is distributed, modified, and consumed. This latest video entitled “The State of the Internet” by Jess3 compliments Did You Know by focusing on the “master” medium and online social networking.

See also:

  • MountainRunner Institute periodically hosts Now Media seminars (and soon workshops). These events ground participants in the opportunities and threats in the modern information and physical environment of global communication and dynamic ‘diasporas’ (what I call “hyphens to commas”). In February and June, we convened a seminar in Washington, DC (http://nowmedia.eventbrite.com). In August, we convened a seminar in the San Antonio area. In October, we’ll hold it in Atlanta and we’re planning another event, location TBD. Email me for more information. An information page will be available soon.

The Small World of Wikileaks, Part 1 – What might this have to do with Public Diplomacy?

By Ali Fisher

The now familiar story of the release of documents by Wikileaks and reported by the New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel has been analysed from numerous angles considering potential impact on reputation and the relationship between digital and the more traditional print media.

The experience of Wikileaks has much in common with those engaged in Public Diplomacy and seeking to measure their attempts to disperse information on specific issues. Examining Wikileaks provides a case study of an attempt to map a network of influence and identify key nodes within that network.

The first step is to establish a baseline, which this post will cover, using data from June (prior to the release of documents). The increasing notoriety of Wikileaks during June was paralleled by increasing problems including the degradation and eventual collapse of the secure submission process, as reported by Ryan Singel. These technical issues and time spent dealing with the ripple effect from the arrest of Bradley Manning had the potential to interfere with the core work of Wikileaks ensuring information can reach a public audience.

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An opportunity to de-militarize public diplomacy

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Last week, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) convened the third annual Magharebia.com Writers Workshop. The workshop is a professional development course for new and established writers for AFRICOM’s Maghreb-centered news and information website, www.Magharebia.com. According to AFRICOM public affairs, the event “introduced new media tools and technologies while stressing the importance of sound journalistic principles for writing, blogging and podcasting.”

The website www.Magharebia.com was started in 2005 by U.S. European Command (EUCOM) to “reach out to a younger audience in the North Africa region with news, sports, entertainment, and current affairs about the Maghreb in English, French and Arabic.” It is similar to EUCOM’s other sponsored news and information website, www.SETimes.com, “the news and views of Southeast Europe.”

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Call for Papers: 6th International Conference on Information Warfare and Security

A call for papers:

Information warfare, cyber-operations, and information security are areas of specialized research covering multiple areas of expertise. This conference is designed to bring together conceptualists, operators, and researchers to exchange and explore ideas covering these areas. Past conferences have attracted participants from all over the globe, providing for a rich environment of idea exchange.

What: 6th International Conference on Information Warfare and Security
When: 17-18 March 2011
Where: The George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA

Conference Chair: Dr. Julie Ryan, The George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA

Program Chair: Dr. Edwin Leigh Armistead, Edith Cowan University, Australia

Keynote Speaker: Matthew A. Stern, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, USA

Details can be found at the event’s website.

Senate to define who is a journalist?

Charlie Savage reports at The New York Times that Democratic Senators proposed legislation to legislatively define who is a “journalist.” Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) drafted an amendment, likely to the “Free Flow of Information Act of 2009″ (S. 448), that would apply the “media shield” to protect sources only to “traditional news-gathering activities and not to web sites that serve as a conduit for the mass dissemination of secret documents.

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