PUBD510: Technologies and Public Diplomacy, starts this Friday, possibly (but very unlikely) near you

Modern means of communication…has opened up a new world of political processes. Ideas and phrases can now be given an effectiveness greater than the effectiveness of any personality and stronger than any sectional interest.

This Friday is the first meeting of PUBD510: Technologies and Public Diplomacy, the graduate class I’m teaching this semester at the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism. This will be the second semester teaching this subject.

The syllabus is available here (and is subject to change).

I’ve structured the class to be a practical education on the conceptual, structural and practical realities of engaging audiences in today’s information and human environment. Technology, whether telegraph or Twitter, plays a role in communicate with and among people, but it does not work in a vacuum. My goal is to empower the students to influence decision makers, from DC to the field, through increased understanding of the holistic environment, from authorities to bureaucracies to technologies to relevant audiences (or, if you wish, participants or stakeholders).

If you have any recommendations on improving the syllabus, don’t hesitate to share them, either in the comments below or through email.


By the way, the above quote comes from H.G. Wells. More specifically, it comes from an article Wells wrote on China as part of a specially commissioned series for the paper generally titled “The Way the World is Going. The article, entitled “A New China Stirs the World,” was published on January 23, 1927.

Event: Information Operations, the New Frontier in Full-Spectrum Warfare

Information Operations: The New Frontier in Full-Spectrum Warfare is a continuing education course taught by Chris Paul through the Organizational Effectiveness Institute. It will be held September 20-21 in Washington, DC. From the course description:

Information Operations (IO), as currently practiced by the U.S. Military, encompass a broad range of capabilities designed to inform, influence, persuade, or deceive target audiences, and a collection of technical capabilities focused on impacting systems for storing or transmitting information. Formally, IO capabilities include Psychological Operations, Electronic Warfare,Computer Network Operations, Operations Security, and Military Deception. The relationships between the IO capabilities and other activities including conventional military operations, related and supporting capabilities, and strategic communication are not always well understood, nor are they optimally organized for specific undertakings. This class explores these relationships and presents clear definitions for all the elements as they appear in the formal doctrine, and as they function in practice. The implications of the different approaches are discussed in depth.
You will benefit by enhancing your understanding of the:
  • History and evolution of IO and its component capabilities.
  • Practice and the potential of IO capabilities.
  • Ways to organize IO and how these impact relationships between capabilities and operational effectiveness.
  • Power of information for influence in pursuit of campaign objectives.
  • Efforts related to IO, such as public affairs, strategic communication, and public diplomacy.

The course outline and online registration is available here.

Chris Paul is Full Social Scientist at the RAND Corporation, frequent contributor to MountainRunner, colleague, and author of the textbook Information Operations: Doctrine and Practice.

Information as Power survey: what date works best for you?

The successful Information as Power event was last week and even during the Snowpacolypse in DC, it was a success (not counting the few who were unable to attend due to weather). I am now working on the next iteration which will be in one (or both) of the following formats: a 2-day course with 12hrs of instruction (9-4 with 1hr lunch) or a 1-day intensive (9-5 with working lunch).

If you are interested in the course, indicate your preferred days for either the 2-day or the 1-day event at this link:

Continue reading “Information as Power survey: what date works best for you?

Follow up on Marketing a course: which title is better?

Thanks to those who offered suggestions on renaming my course “Understanding and Engaging Now Media”. Right now there are six comments on the original request for comment and more than double that in my inbox. Some of you asked about the target audience for this class. It has been my intention to target US Government and those that work the Government, particularly those who work for State and Defense (i.e. consultants). However, due to a combination of which community is interested in the subject and that the host for the class focuses on the military use of information, the students have and continue to come primarily from DOD and its contractors. Several folks from State were to attend last year but they were ultimately unable to attend.

My current personal favorite for the military audience is “Information as Power: ‘Now Media’ and the Struggle for Minds and Wills”.  For the civilian audience, I like “The Rise of the ‘Now Media’ and its effect on Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs”. Feel free to comment on either.

(I’ll have to look if I posted it, but I did write a short essay on why I use this phrase and why not “winning hearts and minds”. The real short version is struggle=enduring & no clear victory, wills=action, hearts=popularity of us versus them.)

Marketing a course: which title is better?

As many of you know, I teach a seminar-style course in the Washington, DC, area on the modern information environment. It is a 9-hour course held over three consecutive evenings from 6p – 9p. While the content has been a draw, the title – Understanding and Engaging Now Media – has not. Joel at AOC (the organization hosting the class) and I are working on a more catchy title. Here are some of the ideas:

  • Information as a weapon: the struggle for minds and wills in today’s “Now Media”
  • Strategic communication and social media in the struggle for minds and wills
  • Strategic Communication, Social Media, and “Now Media”
  • Uncontested space? Where does the fiction begin in today’s “Now Media”?

If you have suggestions on a title, or if one of the above is your favorite, we’d like to hear from you in the comments or via email.

Understanding and Engaging Now Media – Feb 8, 9, 10

Just a reminder, Understanding and Engaging Now Media takes place next month at AOC in Alexandria, VA, just outside of DC. This is a professional training seminar-style course taught over three consecutive evenings, 6p-9p. The modern, global information environment is reviewed as a blended environment marked by the convergence of “new media” and “old media” into “now media.” The goal of the seminar is to make the participant more capable of operating in the “now media” environment and to be able to explain needs and justify requirements for preactive and proactive engagement to senior leadership.

More information, including registration, can be found at the AOC website. Feel free to email me with questions.

PUBD510: Public Diplomacy and Technology

We are in a world where “old” and “new” media converge to create “now media”. Focus must be on the information, and the listening being generated in a noisy environment, not the channels of delivery. The modern information environment is fluid and dynamic and never simple. Information jumps from one medium to another with ease as it is repackaged and forwarded by proxies. Stories by the BBC or The New York Times do not exist solely in the realm of broadcast or dead trees.

Beginning this week, Friday blogging is likely to be light as Public Diplomacy and Technology begins. This is a graduate course I’m teaching at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism every Friday, 10a – 12:50p.

Several questions are asked throughout the course: What of the traditional gatekeepers to news and information? Who decides where the fiction begins? What is “public diplomacy” and who in the US Government does it? What is the global information environment and how are audiences defined? Where are audiences getting their information and do platforms shape the listening being created?

The is a practical course with real, contemporary examples. Current (or very recently retired) professionals will be available to contribute and guest lecture. After taking this course, the student should be capable of explaining to a senior policymaker the need and requirements to engage in the modern global information environment while cognizant that different geographies – physical, social, and cultural – demand different tools.

Understanding and Engaging Now Media: February 8-10 in DC

I will again be teaching Understanding and Engaging Now Media in the DC area, more precisely Alexandria, VA. The dates are February 8, 9, and 10 and the time remains 6p – 9p with drinks and sandwiches provided. Materials to read and view prior to the course will be provided to prepare for the course and to maximize the time.

For more information and registration, visit the AOC website. Note: the course description and agenda will be modified slightly.