Posts and articles worth your attention.

Smith-Mundt and Domestic Dissemination by Darren Krape (3 March 2009)

This post grew out of the recent Smith-Mundt Symposium… First my general read-out of the event is that the issue remains quite contentious and with little overall agreement. Many argue the law should be kept, or even strengthened (and its remit expanded to the entire U.S. government) while others argue it should be completely repealed. A third group feel the argument is pointless since the law is out-dated and should be ignored, which can be done since, in the end, there are no “Smith-Mundt police” to arrest anyone for violating the law.

State’s Wrong Turn on the Information Highway by Scott Rauland (560kb PDF) (Sept 2008)

Many of us who have been involved in the State Department’s information outreach efforts since the very first days that the Internet became available as a tool for U.S. missions overseas are concerned that the department is falling steadily behind the
technology curve and that our ability to reach foreign audiences is actually shrinking.

Social Networks Now More Popular than Email; Facebook Surpasses MySpace by Brian Solis (9 March 2009)

Two-thirds of the world’s Internet population visit social networking or blogging sites, accounting for almost 10% of all internet time.

Time spent on social network sites is also expanding: Across the globe in 2008 activity in ‘Member Communities’ accounted for one in every 15 online minutes – now it accounts for one in every 11.

[Important Note: “Global” for the Nielsen Online report Brian Solis quotes from is really only Australia, Switzerland, Denmark, Spain, France, Italy, UK, and US.]

Why Social Media is Scary by Steve Radick (11 January 2009) and Part 3 Social Media is Scary – How to Address Middle Managers by Steve Radick (2 March 2009)

Businesses and our government are structured in a very hierarchical way – everyone is part of an org chart, everyone has a boss, and everyone is working to get to the next level.  Why?  Because inevitably, the next level brings more pay, more power, more respect, and more influence.  In the current organizational structure, everyone’s role is nicely identified on the org chart and with that, there is a structured way to act.  Raise your hand if you’ve ever said or have been told something like, “you can’t contact him directly – get in touch with your manager first,” or “draft an email for me to send to him,” or even better, “talk to “Public Affairs and Legal to get that approved before sending it out.”

The problem with this structure is that social media renders these traditional roles and responsibilities obsolete.  It introduces unpredictability and opportunity, unauthorized emails and tremendous insights, inappropriate language and humor.  Social media gives everyone a voice, whether they want it or not.

Can The US Air Force Save Darfur? by Chris Albon (9 March 2009)

Last week, the Washington Post published an op-ed by General Merill A. McPeak and Kurt Bassuener arguing that President Obama should establish a no-fly zone over Darfur. The idea has been proposed before, but was repeatedly shot down (pardon the pun) by humanitarian groups who (rightly) feared reprisals from the Sudanese government. However, the objections will be less vocal now that Bashir has booted 13 aid groups from Sudan after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against him. Bashir also reportedly launched more air attacks.