The evolving role of now media in Thailand

For a little over two months, Thailand’s brewing political conflict surfaced the streets of Bangkok, leading “red shirt” and “yellow shirt” protestors to violently battle their political differences. The riots killed nearly 90 and wounded nearly 1,800 people, disrupting the lives of tourists and locals, including Thai Facebook users.

On May 24, 2010, The Christian Science Monitor published an article titled “Thailand’s red shirts and yellow shirts battle it out on Facebook“. The author, Simon Montlake, explains how Thai protestors took advantage of Facebook to fuel hate speech, peer pressure, intolerance, and zealous debate.

Ironically, Thais are generally known as polite people who try to avoid confrontation.

Regardless, the cultural norm disappears online when Thai Facebook users loudly voice their political opinions and attempt to recruit friends into their political networks. Montlake says, “social networking sites…allow the curious to seek out opposing views and join groups that they might not encounter offline.”

It’s important to note that the yellow shirts, or the urban elites,
influenced traditional and online media to shape their messages by using their access
to communication platforms like the Internet. As a result, “the
demographic split…skews to anti-red views, as does much of Thailand’s
newspapers and television.” The red shirts, however, continued to rely on
the radio. 

Read the full article here.

Why the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs tweets

Last week, Federal News Radio interviewed Capt. John Kirby, Special Assistant for Public Affairs for Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on why the Chairman actively engages in social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The chairman, who began Tweeting and Facebooking in 2009, understood that social media was quickly becoming a part of mainstream media and it was just as important to listen to online conversations.

Prior to engaging in social media, the Admiral learned from his troops that his internal military audience, which includes younger men and women in uniform, frequently use social media to communicate with each other. 

Other federal organizations can learn from Adm. Mullen’s online efforts, who does personally “tweet,” as he continues to more effectively utilize Web 2.0 and Gov 2.0.

Click here to read the full article by Federal News Radio.

See also:

Renee Lee is a new contributor to MountainRunner.us and will be providing links and overviews of material – online and offline – deemed important for the individual or organization interested in public diplomacy, strategic communication or “signaling integration”, or global engagement.

Renee Lee is a graduate student in the Master of Public Diplomacy program at the University of Southern California. Renee spent six years in the U.S. Air Force as a public affairs officer in the Asia-Pacific region. Renee graduated cum laude from the University of Washington in 2003, earning a B.A. in Communications.

The Social Media Strategy for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

The Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military officer in the United States, published its social media strategy. The document provides an insight into the current intended purposes and audience size of the various social media platforms in use now by the CJCS. The document describes four goals in the strategy: Engage, Align, Drive, and Expand. Each goal includes objectives for each goal. This is a good step in the right direction for the Chairman and the Pentagon to increase its transparency and relevancy in the discourse over military and foreign policy. As the strategy notes,

With the internet being the primary source of information for individuals born after 1987, social media is quickly becoming mainstream media.

I recommend reading this strategy. True to the purpose and value of social media, I am sure the author would appreciate feedback.

Beyond Boundaries

Advantages of online media, such as blogs, include the ability to traverse time and space to reach audiences worldwide at a moment convenient to the consumer rather the time of broadcaster, and thus the broadcaster’s choice. This access enables social media to bypass the traditional gatekeepers and hierarchies of information dissemination and access, such as governments, news media, and even scholarly journals. Online tools make it increasingly easy for online content to ignore not just geography but to break through language barriers as well. Such is the world of social media.

Every now and again I highlight the global reach of www.MountainRunner.us as an example of the potential of social media. The map below captures some of this blog’s visitors for the month of April 2010. It does not capture those who read the posts via email, RSS, in email forwarded by others, or even all of the visitors to the site (I believe it captures perhaps 50% of the site’s visitors). It also does not capture the increasing use of Google translate to render this site’s content in another language.

image

When I see data like this, it reminds me that audiences are not contained within a single geo-political region, even if the primary topic of discourse is analysis of government activities.

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.

US Government Meets New Media

From Helle Dale at The Heritage Foundation, Public Diplomacy 2.0: Where the U.S. Government Meets “New Media”:

Public diplomacy and strategic communications experts within the U.S. government are exploring the potential of the new social media in the effort to win hearts and minds abroad, especially in the Muslim world where today’s war of ideas is being fought. Enemies of the United States are already expert in using these low-cost outreach tools that can connect thousands, potentially even millions, at the touch of a computer key or cell phone button. As public affairs blogger Matt Armstrong writes,

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.

… When employed strategically, social-networking sites clearly offer potential for U.S. public diplomacy to reach younger, tech-savvy audiences around the world. Social-networking sites can also be cost-effective and run with relatively low overhead. Yet, nothing can replace the power of person-to-person contact and individual exposure to American culture. Furthermore, the unevenness of global technological progress means that a variety of media will remain critical to spreading the U.S. message. As part of a clear and calibrated U.S. government communications strategy, however, Public Diplomacy 2.0 can be a valuable tool.

I would add that there is the convergence of new and old media into Now Media makes intense focus on “new media” channels as distracting and potentially dangerous. As Helle Dale notes, person to person contact remains essential. Even in America’s social media world, studies indicate online relationships that have by real world connections are far stronger than those without.

A powerful, important, and too often ignored is the use of the online media by our adversaries. We require culturally aware, linguistically capable actors in the same languages and cultures we are operating in the “meat space.” What you see in your English-language search of Google or YouTube is not the same list as an Arabic-language search using the same .com site. How many know that? This is a far more dangerous world than many realize. Helle Dale’s recommendations are valid but are ultimately a small part of the solution. The institutional dysfunction across Government and the extreme lack of awareness of the requirements in both the executive and legislative branches overshadow any advantage of these recommendations. We have surrendered primary battlegrounds in the struggle for minds and wills. It is time to reverse this and answer counter the highly damaging propaganda of our adversaries.

Related:

Smith-Mundt Act: Facts, Myths and Recommendations

The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 is the authorizing legislation for America’s public diplomacy and strategic communication. This three-page information sheet addresses confusion surrounding the Act and makes recommendations that are fundamental to any improvement to US public diplomacy and strategic communication. It is ironic that legislation intended to counter misinformation is itself subject to misinformation to the point few know the Act’s purpose and true application.

The following is a short three page overview written at the request of and for a (pro bono) client who is neither the State Department nor the Defense Department. Download here or read below or at Scribd.

Continue reading “Smith-Mundt Act: Facts, Myths and Recommendations

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.

Continue reading “Understanding and Engaging ‘Now Media’ professional development course

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.

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.

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