North Koreans Quietly Open to International Broadcasts

By Alan Heil
(This post originally appeared at The Public Diplomacy Council.)

For well more than a decade, Korea experts who specialize in international media have been examining the impact of foreign broadcasts and DVDs on users in North Korea. They have done so through a combination of in-country surveys and debriefings of defectors from North Korea, refugees and travelers abroad. In annual reports, Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders invariably have ranked that country as having the “least free” media in the world. Yet the curtain of near total silence appears to be opening as never before in North Korea.

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Event: Global Reach: Innovative Communication for a New Diplomacy

Readers may be interested in an upcoming discussion with the French on their perspective of diplomacy in the modern communication environment.  Global Reach: Innovative Communication for a New Diplomacy with Bernard Valero, Spokesman, Head of the Press and Communication Office, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Embassy of France, will take place Thursday, Friday 23, at 10:30am – Noon at 1717 Massachusetts Ave NW in Washington (the Johns Hopkins DC Center).
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Understanding Influence: A Matter of National Security

By John M. Koval III

image_thumb[1] This post is inspired by your Nov. 1, 2010, post titled Wikileaks as an exemplar of Now Media, Part 1. I agree with you that anyone can be influential, and that it’s impractical to distinguish between consumers, creators, audiences, and media. That being said, we’re failing as a country to understand influence, not as a subjective skill, but as a system, or, perhaps more accurately, as a weapons system.

From a national security perspective, we have an obligation to know exactly how state and non-state actors, like Wikileaks founder Jules Assange, employ influence. In the 21st century, we’re fighting influence wars against traditional states, transnational networks, bloggers, media, and countless others. Yet, we don’t have a framework to fight these wars. It’s as if we’ve begun the Manhattan Project without the periodic table of chemical elements.

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Wikileaks, Assange and the UN, an example of propaganda

The Wikileaks community and Wikileaks watchers are actively and likely inadvertently the myth that Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder and front-man, is giving a “keynote” at the UN this week. They are forwarding a Tweet from @Wikileaks that includes a link to a Reuters “Factbox” article that appears to indicate Assange is speaking at the UN. In fact, he is not giving the “keynote” or otherwise speaking at the UN Human Rights meeting but at a press conference put on by the International Institute for Peace, Justice and Human Rights (IIPJHR), a nongovernmental organization registered in Switzerland. A minor detail.

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The Gutenberg Parenthesis and the Extinction of Newspapers

An important question in today’s information environment is how will people receive their news? The centuries old model of print may be going to the margins because of financial challenges: more readers requires more printed copies, requiring larger and more expensive printing plants and distribution channels. The Age of Print may be dead.

The Gutenberg Parenthesis is the theory that the age of text was a temporary interruption, a manifestation of technology where information, knowledge and truth were structured and “owned” in volumes. We are “going forward to the past” where conversation, gossip,  the visceral and unstructured content dominates. Continue reading “The Gutenberg Parenthesis and the Extinction of Newspapers”

Wikileaks as an exemplar of Now Media, Part 1

This is the first in a series of posts that will explore our world of disappearing boundaries – from geographic to linguistic to time to organizational – that create new opportunities and challenges to agenda setting and influence. Wikileaks, as an exemplar non-state actor in this world of “now media,” requires analysis beyond the superficial and polarized debate common in today’s coverage of both the organization and the material it disseminates. The MountainRunner Institute is working to convene a series of discussions with experts across the spectrum, including (ideally) someone from Wikileaks, to discuss the role and impact of actors like Wikileaks and the evolving informational and human landscape. If you are interested in more information or in participating, email me at blog@mountainrunner.us Continue reading “Wikileaks as an exemplar of Now Media, Part 1”

Navy Strategic Communication Workshop

I’m off to the beautiful Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California to give a lecture tomorrow as part of the Navy Strategic Communication Workshop. About the SCW:

The Navy Strategic Communication Workshop (SCW) is a three‐day workshop designed to help commands in the development and implementation of a Strategic Communication planning process. Participants are encouraged to attend as part of a command sponsored team of three to five members, led by a senior executive (Flag Officer or Senior Executive Service member). Ideally, teams include a diverse mix of functional area responsibilities. Teams are asked to bring strategic plans or change initiatives that might require a strategic communication component. Through a combination of classroom presentations and facilitated breakout sessions, teams will be able to apply new skills and techniques to advance their plans.

imageMy talk is titled “The New Information Environment” and will cover the information-centric “now media” environment of borderless news and audiences, dynamic and voluntary “diasporas” (my favorite depiction of this challenge is the image at right), and the organizational and conceptual confusion that abounds across the Government on the requirements, responsibilities and authorities to be effective in this environment. Of course I’ll talk about Wikileaks weave in that The New York Times has more Twitter followers than print subscribers, .

Also, of possible interest is my (draft) syllabus for the public diplomacy class I’m teaching this Spring 2011 at USC.

Influence and Propaganda Conference this week

2010iandpadThis week is the Influence and Propaganda Conference in Verona, New York, outside of Syracuse. Put on by the IO Institute in partnership with the MountainRunner Institute, the conference will be a frank and open discussion on the nature, purpose and format of propaganda and activities intended to influence. This conference comes at a critical time as the volume and quality of disinformation and misinformation increases in an environment that empowers virtually anyone. The gatekeepers of yesterday, governments and major media, are increasingly bypassed, ignored, reactionary or co-opted as today’s information flows across geographic, linguistic, political and technological borders with increasing ease and speed.

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Definition of irony: event in London on censorship and Wikileaks bans photography and recording (updated)

At City University, London, right now is a conference titled “Too much information? Security and censorship in the age of Wikileaks.” The speakers are: Jonathan Dimbleby, chair; Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder; and David Aaronovitch, The Times.

Ironically, the event’s website states

Please note it will not be possible to take photos or recordings during this event.

At the event, the audience was reminded that they may not take pictures of the panel with Julian Assange.

Confusingly, the organizers also said:

We hope to run a live stream of the event, the link to this will be posted at www.city.ac.uk/journalism

Alas, there is no information on the webcast.

Tweets from the event so far include:

AarrBee: Assange seems to be suggesting Wikileaks doesn’t need to be accountable, because others aren’t. Not persuaded.

umaronline: Q: How do you decide what is published? – Assange > ‘We are a publisher. We’re funded by the public. The public decides.’

More to follow…

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Cyber Probing: The Politicisation of Virtual Attack

Despite its pervasiveness in our daily lives, from social media to electrical networks to banking, the critical nature of the online remains ill-understood or appreciated. “Cyberspace,” a recent report asserts, “remains inadequately defended, policed and indeed comprehended.” This is the conclusion of Alex Michael, a researcher for the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. In Cyber Probing: The Politicisation of Virtual Attack, Alex dispels the comfortable belief – expressed in practice and conceptualization of online and new media – that the cyber world is somehow separate from the “real” world. In fact, they are simply new tools used for traditional activities. Cyber attacks, Alex points out, are used “in conjunction with many other forms of pressure, ranging from physical protest to social and diplomatic approaches, to influence the target and attempt to force its hand.” The Stuxnet worm reinforces Alex’s premise.

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