Looking for a research topic on public diplomacy and strategic communication?

Are you a graduate student looking for a research topic? Then I’ve got two topics for you. Actually I have a dozen topics, but here’s two, one I’ve shared several times over the last couple of months and another. I haven’t spent a lot of time refining these so don’t bang on me too hard on the wording but a discussion is encouraged.

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Information Graphics on Today’s Information Environment

imageTen relevant information graphics on today’s on both the consumption and creation of information today can be found at Six Revisions. To me, the one from the communications agency Burston-Marsteller was interesting, if a bit overly focused on Twitter.

Related:

Understanding and Engaging ‘Now Media’ professional development course

The professional development course “Understanding and Engaging Now Media” examines the convergence of “new media” and “old media” into “now media” with the purpose of educating and empowering the student to be a more effective information actor. Today, news and information is simultaneously instant and persistent, global and local, as it seamlessly moves between print, broadcast, cellular, and social media. Increased access to information changes the relationship between producer and consumer of news and information which in turn creates, engages, and empowers new communities and communications pathways that empower journalists, bloggers, analysts, activists, diplomacy, terrorists, insurgents and nearly everyone else. Understanding this environment, the tools, techniques, and purposes is essential in the modern information environment.

Yours truly, Matt Armstrong, will teach this course over three consecutive evenings, 6p-9p on November 10, 11, and 12 in Alexandria, VA (2 blocks from a Metro stop).

More information and registration can be found at the AOC website.

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Legal Challenges on Gov 2.0

Peter Swire, Obama transition team attorney, discusses Web 2.0 issues specific to the federal government. Focus is on the selection and licensing of products and not nature of the content, but it is still an interesting subject for the Gov 2.0 discussion.

See also:

  • Us Now: A film project about the power of mass collaboration, government and the internet (h/t CB3T)

    In a world in which information is like air, what happens to power? New technologies and a closely related culture of collaboration present radical new models of social organisation. This project brings together leading practitioners and thinkers in this field and asks them to determine the opportunity for government.

BBC: Taliban slick propaganda confronts US

From BBC’s website a report from BBC Persian and Pashto:

The second front in the conflict between the Taliban and their enemies in government is the war of words – and in recent months that battle has intensified.

The Taliban have a sophisticated public relations machine which is making it harder for governments and their international allies to win the ever-important propaganda war.

The insurgents are keen to exploit a sense of alienation among people, fostered by "bad governance" and "mistakes" made during military operations.

Civilian casualties in American air strikes and the violation of local traditions including house and personal searches create an atmosphere where Taliban propaganda can take root.

Afghan political commentator, Rostar Tarakai, says that it is the simplicity of the Taliban’s message that makes it most effective.

"They talk about occupation, they highlight the fact that foreign troops are killing Afghans and raiding their homes – and it works," says Mr Tarakai.

The whole article is well worth reading as it highlights the sophistication of the Taliban. Talk about multiple media, this is the first report I’ve seen that really gets at the expanse of Taliban communication techniques.

See also:

Broadcasting Board of Governors: empty seats at the public diplomacy table

The Broadcasting Board of Governors, or BBG, is the agency overseeing all United States public diplomacy broadcasting, that is non-military broadcasting for audiences outside of the territorial US.

It is also the name of the Board that governs those broadcasts that nominally consists of nine members, eight of which are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. By law, no more than four members may be from the same political party (in effect, four Republicans and four Democrats). The ninth member is the current Secretary of State (ex officio).

The BBG is also the agency everybody seems to love to hate.

In the spirit of the popular incumbency chart published here on the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, below you’ll find a unique chart and timeline on the membership of the Board that you won’t find anywhere else.

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Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy is at Odds with Social Media, and What to Do about It: an interview with Matt Armstrong

Over a week ago I discussed public diplomacy with Eric Schwartzman for his OnTheRecordOnline program. The 30 minute interview is now online here.

Public affairs and public diplomacy blogger Matt Armstrong of Armstrong Strategic Insights Group, LLC discusses U.S. Public Diplomacy, repairing America’s image abroad and whether or not the U.S. Department of State will ever be adequately resourced to lead the nation’s global engagement efforts through social media.

Mountain Runner is a blog on the practice and structure of public diplomacy, public affairs and public relations. It is read by senior government officials, practitioners, trainers, academics, and analysts from the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Defense, the United States Congress, related institutions, think tanks, and government agencies around the globe.

Eric has a good index with time codes for the topics covered at the interview website.

One note: at the beginning of the interview, I said “culture” wasn’t a part of “security” in a way that could be construed to mean cultural diplomacy etc is not important to public diplomacy and national security. That is not what I meant and I should have worded my response better in the interview. Cultural diplomacy is certainly very important.

Guest Post: Explaining Why Afghanistan Matters – Whose Job Is It?

By Tom Brouns

As highlighted in this blog and others, the use of “new” and “social” media by military and government organizations as a part of their public communication strategy is undergoing a quiet evolution – or in some cases, revolution.  Where consensus between allies is not a concern, organizations like US Forces – Afghanistan are taking the bull by the horns: their Facebook page amassed 14,000 fans in six weeks, and their 4500+ followers on Twitter are nothing to sneeze at.  In an alliance like NATO, progress has to be a bit more tentative and exploratory.  Regardless of the pace, increasing dialogue and transparency between military organizations and their publics should be seen as a positive thing.

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Al-Jazeera: A Culture of Reporting at in Layalina’s Perspectives

Layalina Productions publishes a new monthly “forum by academics and leading practitioners to share their views in order to explore key concepts in the study and practice of public diplomacy and Arab media.” The third author to contribute is Dr. Abderrahim Foukara, the Washington Bureau Chief of Al-Jazeera Network.

In the final analysis, TV per se is neither a bridge-builder nor a bridge-buster. I believe that the battle to close the gap between nations is often fought in the trenches of political action, not by TV programming alone.

The perception issue between American and the Arab worlds will also be determined by what actions Arabs will take not just in the Middle East but also in Washington, where important decisions are made which affect their region and the rest of the world.

The article is worth your time and can be accessed here.

The two prior essays were:

How will you respond to a customer complaint in the age of Social Media?

Recommended reading in the age of now media: How will you respond to a customer complaint in the age of Social Media? at FASTforward. This is a lesson fully applicable to public diplomacy, strategic communication, global engagement, or whatever your tribe uses to describe the struggle for perceptions, relevance, and support. Unlike Las Vegas, what happens in new media doesn’t stay in new media.

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Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants: Do they think differently?

Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, Part II: Do They Really Think Differently? (141kb PDF) by Marc Prensky, 2001:

Digital Natives accustomed to the twitch-speed, multitasking, random-access, graphics-first, active, connected, fun, fantasy, quick-payoff world of their video games, MTV, and Internet are bored by most of today’s education, well meaning as it may be. But worse, the many skills that new technologies have actually enhanced (e.g., parallel processing, graphics awareness, and random access)—which have profound implications for their learning—are almost totally ignored by educators.

The cognitive differences of the Digital Natives cry out for new approaches to education with a better “fit”. And, interestingly enough, it turns out that one of the few structures capable of meeting the Digital Natives’ changing learning needs and requirements is the very video and computer games they so enjoy. This is why “Digital Game-Based Learning” is beginning to emerge and thrive. …

Again and again it’s the same simple story. Practice—time spent on learning—works. Kid’s don’t like to practice. Games capture their attention and make it happen. And of course they must be practicing the right things, so design is important.

The US military, which has a quarter of a million 18-year-olds to educate every year, is a big believer in learning games as a way to reach their Digital Natives. They know their volunteers expect this: “If we don’t do things that way, they’re not going to want to be in our environment”

Interesting reading on neuroplasticity.

(h/t @ramblemuse)

Noteworthy Links: Information and Communication edition

New edition of AP Stylebook adds entries and helpful features: AP writers can now use the phrase "to Twitter" in place of the wordier "to post a Twitter update." Both are far better (and technologically adept) than The New York Times use of “on their Twitter page.”

If you provide services to poor people, should you make a profit? Interesting question that goes to the increasing connectivity in Africa. (h/t @ICT4D)

Feeds for Information Graphics. Compiled by the Art Director for the Associated Press Interactive Design & Graphics Department in New York.

IT Dashboard. Track information technology spending by the US Government. For example, see that the State Department is doing pretty well managing its IT projects and that there are apparently problems with USAID’s Infrastructure and Modernization Program.

Après un an de tests, les policiers ont choisi ce modèle, léger et long de 5 cm.Combat camera for cops. French cops are getting ear-borne mini-cams to combat “to establish the context of our interventions.”

Enhancing the Digital Native / Immigrant taxonomy

When discussing the use and implications of both “new media” and its convergence with “old media” (into “Now Media”), the conversation frequently includes references to two groups, the Digital Native and the Digital Immigrant. This two-tier system inadequately describes reality so I propose a four-tier system that begins with the commonly accepted native-immigrant models and adds two more.

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Beware of cheap imitators

Glancing at John Brown’s Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review for Sunday, I came across one of his links to a post on Under Secretary Judith McHale’s speech at CNAS. As I read it, I thought the words sounded familiar, and for good reason. John linked to some blog that copies other people’s content to increase their links/visitors. I visited the blog so you don’t have to:

image

They indiscriminately copied the beginning of this post. Possibly it was automated or likely they didn’t care that it began with “Below are…” when they had nothing “below.”

This isn’t the first time I’m been copied. GoogleAlerts has alerted me to several similar entries on “spam” blogs (is there another name for these?). The best one, however, was the verbatim copy of one of my posts (was it my op-ed?) by a Southeast Asian news website who put one of their own as the author.

There’s a lesson in here about the ease in which information can be reappropriated and used for alternative purposes.

Social Media as Public Diplomacy

Layalina Productions has a new monthly publication, Perspectives, “to explore key concepts in the study and practice of public diplomacy and Arab media.” The May 2009 inaugural article was Iraqi Media: Freedom or Chaos by His Excellency Samir Shakir Mahmood Sumaida’ie, Ambassador of Iraq to the U.S. The second author was me with Social Media as Public Diplomacy. Check it out and comment here or there.

Now more than ever, the United States needs effective public diplomacy. America’s national security depends on smart policies supported by effective and agile engagement to foster understanding of our government’s policies, countering misinformation, developing partnerships, and most importantly, encouraging and empowering others to realize that the government’s fight is their fight as well. This is where public diplomacy, engaging directly and indirectly with people around the globe, proves necessary.

While America created the Internet, Facebook, and Twitter, the appreciation of the tactical and strategic values of social media lags far behind our adversaries’ practices.
In this age of mass information and precision-guided media, everyone from political candidates to terrorists must instantly and continuously interact with and influence audiences in order to be relevant and competitive. Ignoring the utility of social media is tantamount to surrendering the high ground in the enduring battle to influence minds around the world. …

Go to Layalina to read the whole article (and to check out their programs, like On the Road in America and Ben & Izzy).