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:

In America? Smith-Mundt means no SMS updates on the President’s Ghana speech for you!

imageTo let the American public get updates to the President’s speech via SMS is dangerous and, presumably, equivalent to Al Qaeda and Taleban propaganda. No wait, those messages come through just fine so it must be worse than that and even Iranian, Russian, and Chinese Government propaganda. If you’re an American, you cannot sign up for SMS updates to what surely will be an excellent speech by the President – nor could you sign up for the previous much anticipated and lauded speeches – because the Smith-Mundt Act prevents American public diplomacy activities from reaching sensitive and impressionable American eyes and ears. If you’re in the 50 United States ("US minor outlying islands" don’t count) then you’ll have to hope the State Department’s Public Affairs

does something, but, call me a pessimist, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

See also:

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)

CNAS grows

CNAS, aka Center for a New American Security, grew a little bit this week. Certainly they have some empty to fill after so many left to join the White House and the Departments of State and Defense, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of their latest.

While Spencer waxes on about my friend Marc Lynch, nobody’s given Bob Killebrew the love he deserves. Check out CNAS’s press release for his short bio. It will be interesting if Marc Lynch, Tom Ricks, or Andrew Exum get Bob to post (he has one post at SWJ), but he’ll probably work quietly in the background and offer up his deep knowledge and incisive analysis of current and future stabilization requirements.

As CNAS grows, it has redefined the think tank as it (cautiously or a bit clumsily) inserts itself into the public discourse of national security. From conferences broadcast on the web to Twitter to blogging, they have gone the route that sharing information is power. Their knowledge, publically displayed, gains mindshare and marketshare. That is not to say other models are obsolete but the when the field has changed due to the strategy and tactics of an ideological competitor (and think tanks are ideological competitors) you may want to take notice.

Failure can be achieved with one action, success happens over time

Short and to the point observation by Galrahn at Information Dissemination that winning a battle does not mean winning a war.

The Navy deploys hospital ships to other countries, but then turns around and takes a poll to measure success. In other words, the Navy is measuring success based on an opinion of an action.

But opinions also measure perception, and hospital ship deployments do not have an associated strategic communication strategy targeting the population of the country it is servicing, rather only has a blog telling stories in English to the American people of events as they unfold.

He follows with a suggestion of true multiple media engagement (person and radio).

I don’t care how ugly it is, someone should stick a giant radio tower on top of the hospital ships and broadcast the coolest damn DJ you can find that speaks the language of the places the hospital ships go to. If Al Qaeda has a radio station in the Middle of Pakistani Mtns to broadcast their propaganda of hate, why can’t we put a radio station on a ship and send out a message of friendship?

What providing wi-fi or wi-max or even temporary cellular connectivity, all for free? Such broadcasts might be in conflict with the host nation’s telecommunications monopoly, but there are diplomatic ways around that.

Thoughts?

Public Diplomacy: Books, Articles, Websites #46

Courtesy of Bruce Gregory, Professor of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University:

July 7, 2009
Intended for teachers of public diplomacy and related courses, here is an update on resources that may be of general interest.  Suggestions for future updates are welcome. 
Bruce Gregory
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Media and Public Affairs
George Washington University

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Realizing the value of Foreign Aid

The importance of foreign aid programs in building capacity, empowering foreign populations, and denying physical and ideological sanctuary to our adversaries is finally coming to the forefront. The militarization of America’s foreign policy is more than Defense leadership in informational engagement and propagating a comprehensive approach to stability operations, but in the management of foreign aid for development. As was noted in a conference call with LTG Caldwell this week, the percentage of the foreign aid budget the Defense Department manages has skyrocketed.

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Not Afraid to Talk: our adversaries aren’t, why are we?

For an unabridged version of the below post, go here. Otherwise read on.

GWU professor Marc Lynch, perhaps more commonly known as Abu Aardvark, revealed the positions on public diplomacy of the current presidential candidates:

I came across something interesting while doing some research on public diplomacy for an unrelated project.  Since at least the 9/11 Commission Report, almost every foreign policy blueprint or platform has for better or for worse mentioned the need to fix American public diplomacy and to engage with the "war of ideas" in the Islamic world.   I expected all three remaining Presidential candidates to offer at least some boilerplate rhetoric on the theme.  What I found was different.

Marc highlighted the differences between the presidential candidates on what is arguably the most important and yet least understood element of our national security. At the end of his post, he challenged John Brown, Patricia Kushlis, and this blogger to offer our thoughts.  Patricia at Whirled View responded, as did John Brown and a few others. I suggest you read their responses.

Continue reading “Not Afraid to Talk: our adversaries aren’t, why are we?”