Recommended Reading: Countering Online Radicalisation

UK-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence released their report Countering Online Radicalisation: A Strategy for Action today:

Political extremists and terrorists are increasingly using the internet as an instrument for radicalisation and recruitment. What can be done to counter their activities? Countering Online Radicalisation examines the different technical options for making ‘radical’ internet content unavailable, concluding that they all are either crude, expensive or counter-productive.It sets out a new, innovative strategy which goes beyond ‘pulling the plug’, developing concrete proposals aimed at:

  • Deterring the producers of extremist materials
  • Empowering users to self-regulate their online communities
  • Reducing the appeal of extremist messages through education
  • Promoting positive messages

Countering Online Radicalisation results from the first systematic effort to bring together industry, experts and government on the issue of online radicalisation. Its insights and recommendations are certain to be of great interest to experts and policymakers around the world.

Download the whole report here (615kb PDF).

Download the executive summary here (96kb PDF).

It is time to create a center for public diplomacy discourse and research

The public diplomacy community requires a center for sharing ideas, resources, and research materials. Earlier this week I blogged about the forthcoming website and suggested the model created by the Small Wars Journal as a starting point in the development of a collaborative portal. In this post, I’ll get more specific in what is necessary for the disparate tribes that support and engage in public diplomacy, strategic communication, public affairs, media diplomacy, or simply global engagement.

Continue reading “It is time to create a center for public diplomacy discourse and research (Updated)

pd20_wireframe_v1.0 There’s a new kid coming to the block: Public Diplomacy 2.0, or for short. According to the website, Public Diplomacy 2.0 seeks to

document the use of web 2.0 and social media technologies in the practice of public diplomacy. PD will represent opinions and present examples from a wide range of public and private institutions from around the world. Through interviews with practitioners and thought leaders, analysis of examples in practice, how-to articles, press digests and other sourced and original content, PD’s goal is to become a central source for information on Public Diplomacy 2.0.

I’m excited about the launch of this site, and not just because Darren Krape, the one of the project’s masterminds, notes they are using my operational definition of public diplomacy:

Public diplomacy 2.0 is the use of new media (web 2.0, social media) to listen, engage and influence foreign publics, either by a government (public diplomacy) or by citizens (citizen diplomacy) in order to create a favorable environment for achieving national security, political, cultural and economic objectives. (Liberally stolen borrowed from

This should shape up to be a significant node in the discourse about the role and utility of social media in what we often call public diplomacy.

This center for discourse would do well to model itself on the community-based Small Wars Journal website and provide fora for discussions, news analysis, knowledge sharing, posting of articles ranging from editorial to journal-length and format, and classifieds.

Check out the working document for the project’s roadmap, including possible interviews, features, partnership possibilities, initial taxonomy, etc.

Follow PD20 on the web or on Twitter.

See also this follow up post:

White House Announced Internet Team

President Obama announced the “White House Internet Team” on Monday. From Ari Melber at The Nation:

Several of the President’s "key White House staff," according to a press release from Robert Gibbs, will manage large portfolios for Internet outreach and "citizen participation" online. The list includes several veterans of Obama’s presidential campaign, naturally, a former web adviser to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and a former Google staffer who worked on the company’s Moderator platform.

It is noteworthy that the President did call on the Huffington Post in a press conference. Read the whole, brief, article by Melber here.

I doubt they’ll have the same limited agility as State’s various “Internet teams”, from to DipNote to Digital Outreach and beyond.

Speaking of agility, it would be nice to have State’s R, the public diplomacy bureau, not alternating between sitting with palms down on the desk and chasing their tails while wondering if they have a future and if so, what that future will be.

Public Diplomacy & New Technologies

Briefly, Public Diplomacy & New Technologies by John Matel:

Initial use of the web for public diplomacy and strategic communications involved online versions of familiar delivery methods, such as magazines, radio and television. Despite vast differences among them, all these shared the paradigm of one-way communications, where a set message was delivered to a passive audience in a one speaker to many recipients model. It ignored the web’s special capacity for interaction. … We tend to focus on the instant communication aspect of the Internet, but the sinews of its influence are its capacity to find, sort and distribute information. Powerful search engines give individuals the power enjoyed only by world leaders few decades ago and before that time by nobody at all. Governments have lost what monopolies they once enjoyed and are now sometimes not even the most prominent voices. Controlling information is no longer possible. … The ubiquity and interactive aspects of Web 2.0 offer public diplomacy the possibility of direct engagement with thousands of individuals on a global scale. We can bypass the state run media and the various despotic gatekeepers that have long hounded the quest for truth & knowledge. In the exchange, however, we get a world of constant change, requiring flexibility and creativity, where you have to earn attention again and again every day. … Internet 2.0 will strengthen “tribes” as people can go online to find others with whom they identify even across great geographical distances. (Of course, the tribes I am not talking about are not kinship of linage, but kinship of ideas.) This may lead to greater trust within groups, as they become more uniform and homogeneous, but also lead to a general decline in tolerance overall, since most people will be out-groups to any particular in groups. Early hopes that Internet would weave the world together in a kind of cyber age of Aquarius have been dashed against the reality of self-selection and segregation. In a mass information market, differing viewpoints must be tolerated, not so in the case of core groups of believers autoerotically communicating among themselves on the Internet. Where websites and blogs are most developed, disagreements have become sharper and more venomous. … [W]eb 2.0 has as much or more capacity to puncture and disassemble public diplomacy messages as it does to deliver them. … We cannot prescribe the particular technological tools for any public affairs task until we have assessed the task and the environment. … There is no silver bullet or Holy Grail of communications. It is easy to be beguiled by the new or the latest big thing, but technology is not communication and the medium is not the message. It is only the method.

Read the whole post here.

This confirmed completely with MountainRunner’s #1 Rule of Public Diplomacy: think and operate by, with, and through "locals" (socially, ideologically, culturally, not necessarily geographically) because the medium is not the message, the people are.

See also:

Investing in America’s infrastructure

From The New York Times:

At first glance, perhaps no line item in the nearly $900 billion stimulus program under consideration on Capitol Hill would seem to offer a more perfect way to jump-start the economy than the billions pegged to expand broadband Internet service to rural and underserved areas.

Proponents say it will create jobs, build crucial infrastructure and begin to fulfill one of President Obama’s major campaign promises: to expand the information superhighway to every corner of the land, giving local businesses an electronic edge and offering residents a dazzling array of services like online health care and virtual college courses.

But experts warn that the rural broadband effort could just as easily become a $9 billion cyberbridge to nowhere, representing the worst kind of mistakes that lawmakers could make in rushing to approve one of the largest spending bills in history without considering unintended results.

"The first rule of technology investment is you spend time understanding the end user, what they need and the conditions under which they will use the technology," said Craig Settles, an industry analyst and consultant who has studied broadband applications in rural and urban areas.

Either the reporting is bad or Craig Settles doesn’t get it. UPDATE: offline conversation with Craig makes it clear the reporter didn’t put in his whole argument. Further details may follow.

This isn’t a tech investment but an infrastructure investment. The US doesn’t have "broad"band, it has broader than dial-up band.

Our allies and competitors understand communication networks, from highways to telephone to Internet, are essential to commerce, civics, and development. The US is one of the few industrialized countries yet to accept this.

There is a precedence here, in fact two: the rollout of telephone services across the nation eighty years ago and the development of the interstate highway system fifty years ago.

Don’t get mired in the "tech" debate or the "government must stay out" argument. This is an example of the need of government to push private industry (including in some cases municipal utilities) to stop watching the immediate bottom line and look toward longer term payoffs.

Increased efficiencies in the transmission of information, knowledge, and awareness is a win-win not zero-sum.

Are we an information economy or not?

As I approaches 0, ROI approaches infinity

Very briefly, here’s a mind-blower for you: As I (Investment) approaches 0 (zero), ROI (Return on Investment) approaches infinity. Ok, maybe it’s not such a revelation but the cost of broadcasting/narrowcasting activities are decreasing significantly, nearly to the virtually free cost to consume.

From Jim McGee at Fast Forward (a required reading blog):

At last week’s Blogwell 2 conference in Chicago, Lee Aase from the Mayo Clinic shared their efforts to use social media to continue to share the Clinic’s message with the existing extended community tightly and loosely surrounding them. The Mayo Clinic has built a worldwide reputation over the course of many decades. Fundamentally, that reputation is a function of word of mouth. That makes social media in all forms a natural fit for Mayo.

They are working across multiple fronts included a fan page on Facebook, multiple blogs, a YouTube channel, and Twitter. At the conference, Lee announced their most recent effort, Sharing Mayo Clinic, which is intended as a place to share people stories about the Clinic and to serve as a hub around which other social media efforts and coalesce.

i was struck by a number of things in Lee’s presentation and Mayo’s overall efforts. First and foremost was the value of simply diving in and learning from their experiences. Coupled with that was the additional leverage found in thinking systemically. The heart of their strategy here is to find and share the human stories connected to the Clinic every day. The technologies serve as multiple ways to get the story out and Lee and his team (which is much smaller than I would have predicted) are smart enough to not get in the way of those stories.

For example, although they are making extensive use of video in their storytelling, they are using the Flip Video Camcorder instead of a more complex (and intimidating) video set up. What they are learning is that the Flip provides good enough production values and doesn’t get in the way of the storytelling. I suspect that there’s more craft involved than Lee let on, but not so much that it is out of reach for any organization that’s willing to make a few mistakes in the early stages.

Lee closed with an intriguing observation about the value of Mayo’s investments in social media. Here’s how he put it:

As I approaches 0, ROI approaches infinity

I suspect that the average CFO would be a bit suspicious, but there’s an important point here. The financial investments in social media can start at zero and don’t need to get terribly far away. The real investments are in organizational time and attention and what Lee and others are demonstrating is that those costs are also readily manageable. Answering questions about ROI does not necessarily entail using a spreadsheet.

In other circles this is called asymmetric warfare and too often described as an unfair advantage agile and unencumbered insurgents and terrorists have over Big Government. No, it’s about realizing the requirements and advantages of the “now media” environment that affects the struggle for minds and wills. It can mean building passive support (community support for a local institution manifested as pride or social support of an action) or active support (voting for municipal bonds to picking up a weapon).

The dissemination and consumption of information is cheap but the impact is priceless.

Twittering White House Press Briefings

E&P is reporting some user-generated content during White House briefings. No, not the standing user, the sitting users:

Gibbsx A lot has changed since the days of Ari, Scotty and Dana — and not just the arrival of Obama and Robert Gibbs.  Chris Cillizza, the ace Wash Post political "Fix" blogger, started twittering or live-tweeting or whatever you call, the daily press briefings today.  Here are a few samples:

–"Stimulative" sounds dirty…it isn’t, but it sounds that way.

— Gibbs…heading into the 40th minute…Fix dreaming of a trip to "Breadline" shortly.

— Helen Thomas goes with the Afghanistan question. Direct!

Could be interesting to follow these…

What about the State Department YouTube channel Sean McCormack started? Well, a slew of videos talking about careers in the State Department were uploaded to it on January 20. Otherwise, no word on Briefing 2.0.

DipNote and FP

Josh Keating at Foreign Policy noted the revamp of the website yesterday. He also noted who wasn’t on State’s blogroll.

I also can’t help notice the conspicuous absence of Passport (or any of the new FP blogs) from Dipnote’s new blogroll. The previous editors were nice enough toa dd us after some cajoling. I’m not sure if we were removed before or after the changeover.

MountainRunner has been on DipNote since nearly day one, but I can’t help but notice that MountainRunner is “conspicuously absent” from FP’s blogroll.

A government of, by, and for the people that informs the people

The Obama Administration continues the technology revolution. From a press release from one of my favorite “now media” companies, Newsgator:

The Federal government today announced the availability of breaking news and information RSS feeds on the award winning website managed by U.S. General Service Administration’s Office of Citizen Services. With a long history of providing electronic access to government information through the Web, the site is delivering on a commitment to streamline and simplify access so that the public no longer has to scour a vast array of government sponsored websites to learn what is new in their areas of interest.

The new service (, powered by NewsGator, lets anyone subscribe to “really simple syndication” (RSS) feeds on, the U.S. government’s official portal, and receive news and information in industry standard feed readers, many available for free, just as it is posted by editorial staff. Alternatively, web visitors can bookmark the Web site in their browser.

Users can subscribe to RSS feeds from any or all of the following categories:

   – Agriculture 
   – Environment and Energy
   – Business and Economics 
   – Family, Home and Community
   – Consumer News and Recalls 
   – Health and Nutrition
   – Defense and International 
   – Public Safety and Law
   – Education and Employment 
   – Science and Technology
   – General Gov and Reference 
   – All Categories

Read the whole press release here or check out Newsgator technology powering information dissemination here.

A government of the people, by the people, and for the people should be transparent. Increasing transparency in domestic programs is important. Why not do the same in foreign affairs?, DipNote, and should adopt similar technologies. In fact, I’d wager that the cost to do so would be minimal based on how I expect the contract is worded based on my experience of connecting “R” with a USG-available service paid for by another Department.

Disclosure of sorts: I’ve been a Newsgator customer for several years using their RSS reader apps to managing MountainRunner’s blog roll.

(not) Measuring the Now Media audience with Technorati

Measuring the audience in the Now Media environment is challenging. Accuracy in the virtual world is an abstract where a single “reader” may actually be an aggregator that services 0 to x readers. One solution has been to count the number of times a blog is referenced by other blogs.

Services like Technorati purport to determine authority by measuring gravitas through blog links. However, I’ve found Technorati to be dismal in this regard, especially in the last year as it ignores links from major to so not-so major blogs caught by Google Alerts. Pinging Technorati with urls that linked to MountainRunner were seemingly ignored.

It has gotten so bad that I simply do not trust Technorati to show me links or ‘authority’.

This issue becomes more prominent when network maps are based Technorati.

End rant.

Demonstration of “Now Media”

Very briefly, we need to stop thinking in terms of “new media” versus “old” or “traditional” media. It is “now media” and it matters very much in the global information environment. Below is required viewing for the Obama Administration’s quick reaction force, which must include blogs like DipNote,, and as well as DOD IO, PSYOP, and PA.

This isn’t crisis communication, but crisis awareness through Now Media…

H/T Hill & Knowlton’s Brendon Hodgson.

Also check out screen captures of various sites as the story developed below the fold.

Continue reading “Demonstration of “Now Media”

Change @ .gov

Briefly, at the tick of 12:00 yesterday, our new President was sworn in. At the tock of 12:01, our President’s tech-savvy team went online with a new website that includes a blog. Actually, it’s not a blog, without the ability to comment it’s simply a fancy public announcement system masquerading as blog.

This change is reflected elsewhere: check out Note the subtitle under “U.S. Department of State”: Diplomacy in Action. Also, note the prominent placement of DipNote on the homepage as well as the social media bookmark feature.

At “R”, the following is available:

The Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs leads America’s public diplomacy outreach, which includes communications with international audiences, cultural programming, academic grants, educational exchanges, international visitor programs, and U.S. Government efforts to confront ideological support for terrorism. The Under Secretary oversees the bureaus of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Public Affairs and International Information Programs, and participates in foreign policy development.

With no link to CitizensBriefingBook.Change.Gov, where “the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government” meets social media, it is likely that any future citizen-input solicited by the Government will primarily come from individual Departments and Agencies. By the way, the public diplomacy topic is here and has received what nothing in the way of professional contributions. 

For the techie in you, see also this post regarding the revised robots.txt file.

Thanks Armchair Generalist

Jason, the Armchair Generalist, gives his suggestions on a new category for the 2008 Military Weblog Awards.

These [other military-specific] sites are popular, given their (generally) good writing skills and focus on first-person perspectives, but I’m discouraged (whining) that there is not a competition for a best national strategy blog – that is to say, those blogs where the discussions revolve more around the development and execution of national security and foreign policy. I would submit to you my top ten list (alphabetical, not preference):

Arms and Influence
Democracy Arsenal
Don Vandergriff
Foreign Policy Watch
Kings of War
Opposed Systems Design
Sic Semper Tyrannis
War, the military, COIN and stuff

Best national strategy blog… good idea and a good list. I don’t mind the inclusion of this blog either. Thanks for the nod, Jason.

update: where’s Small Wars Journal?! Thanks Selil for pointing out that most obvious fact. I can’t believe I missed that. It must have been those Old Speckled Hens I had at Bilbo Baggins with Chris and Craig after the media roundtable this afternoon….

Your thoughts? (on the list, not the beer or pub)

Israel and the War of Perceptions

I’ve seen a good number of articles praising Israel’s handling of the war of perceptions in the media. In the offline critiques of Israel’s strategy and tactics by information experts there is much less congratulatory language. A close look at the praise reveals a self-licking ice cream cone or a limited understanding of the battlespace.

The following is an interesting assessment, and indictment, of Israel’s foray into the war of persuasion not generally discussed in the mainstream media.

Foreign minister Tzipi Livni, whose poor command of the English language may have been a factor in Israel’s agreeing to UN Security Council Resolution 1701 two and a half years ago, now has a blog. The text is in Hebrew only and most of the posts are videos of interviews with her on various television networks.

At YNet, Esti Applebaum-Polani argues that Israel’s biggest problem with public relations is a lack of fluent English speakers.

Hamas’ professional assistance is manifested through Arab experts who reside in Western countries and are used as commentators on foreign media outlets when needed (interestingly, Israel academic experts who live abroad are often opposed to the Israeli government’s policy.) The campaign is also reinforced by Arab politicians who were educated in the West or lived there for a long time and speak fluent English. In addition, there are the foreign correspondents who view the battle as one pitting David (Hamas) against Goliath (Israel,) because on television it always appears as though one side is strong and the other is weak.

Meanwhile, Palestinian spokespeople who reside in the West and speak fluent English resort to “sweet talk” on global television stations. …

You may have noticed over the past week that the IDF spokesperson’s office has gotten into the Internet – setting up a YouTube account (and then a LiveLeak account) and a blog. All of this is being done by the North American desk – an outfit that may not have existed two and a half years ago (they didn’t contact me if they did exist). …

Read the whole thing here.

MountainRunner on Facebook

If you didn’t know it, this blog has a Facebook page and even a half-dozen fans. I don’t yet have a strategy for the Facebook presence, but at least I’m there. (It doesn’t take reading Groundswell to know “just to be there” is not a good enough reason.)

logo2 has a Facebook application also. The application creates integration options including signing into using your Facebook ID. Beyond that, I really don’t know what I’ll do with the FB app. Suggestions?

On the subject of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), is also on Twitter

btw- the image above was a masthead of the blog long ago. It’s kind of cheesy I know…

Twitter in War

As Israeli obviously failed to heed the lessons of 2006 and the importance of a) shaping perceptions and b) countering adversarial information, they are exploring grassroots engagement in the struggle for minds in the current Gaza campaign:

NY Consulate Counts on Twitter: Israeli consulate uses social networking service as part of Gaza op PR campaign

Between 1-3 pm (EST) Tuesday, the Consulate General of Israel in New York will hold a live Citizen "Press" Conference on Twitter in order to directly answer the public’s questions regarding the current situation in Israel and Gaza in wake of the IDF’s operation in the Strip. …

Twitter users can take part in the Citizen "Press" Conference by going to: and directing their messages to @israelconsulate and including the tag #AskIsrael.

At <140 characters per exchange, how effective will this be?

See also: