Diplopedia in the News

Today’s Department of State invests in new technology and employees are encouraged to use 21st century tools  — twitter, social media, wikis, blogs, photo sharing sites — to promote democracy and support the development of  civil society.

This wasn’t always the case, writes Amrita S. Khalid in Next Gov about the transition.

“The State Department for many years took pride in its lack of technological advancement. On easing the State Department into a technological transition, career diplomat Richard Boly first asked, “Here’s a group that is historically risk averse by design, and we’re asking them to make a change that is diametrically opposed to what they’ve grown throughout their career doing. How do we go about that?”

Read more here:

http://www.nextgov.com/nextgov/ng_20110914_5459.php?oref=topstory

Global Trends

The Directorate of National Intelligence offers these trend indicators for 2025.

*Economic Growth Fueling Rise of Emerging Players
In terms of size, speed, and directional flow, the transfer of global wealth and economic power
now under way—roughly from West to East—is without precedent in modern history.
This shift derives from two sources.
First, increases in oil and commodity prices have generated windfall profits for the Gulf states and Russia.
Second, lower costs combined with government policies
have shifted the locus of manufacturing and some service industries to Asia.

*Growth projections for Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the BRICs) indicate they will collectively match the original G-7’s share of global GDP by 2040-2050. China is poised to have more impact on the world over the next 20 years than any other country. If current trends
persist, by 2025 China will have the world’s second largest economy. (source: page vi)

*Existing multilateral institutions—which are large and cumbersome and were designed for a different geopolitical order—will have difficulty adapting quickly to undertake new missions, accommodate changing memberships, and augment their resources.
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)—concentrating on specific issues. (source: page xi)

*Whether global institutions adapt and revive—another key uncertainty—also is a function of leadership. Current trends suggest a dispersion of power and authority will create a global governance deficit. Reversing those trend lines would require strong leadership in the international community by a number of powers, including the emerging ones. (source: page xii)
Resource:
DNI Open Government

Facing Indonesia :: World’s Largest Muslim Population

The Interpreter Fergus Hanson’s blog from the Lowy Institute for International Policy, cites the great leap upward for
Embassy Jakarta’s Facebook fans. The Interpreter’s banner photo is worth the price of admission.

President Obama’s visit to Indonesia in February 2010 was a pivotal event for the increase from 50,000 to nearly 310,000. Hanson proposes that State Department financial support played a role in outreach that drove new fans to the Embassy’s site. But it’s not clear that extra public outreach funding was forthcoming at that time, or since.

The viral nature of social media pushes audience growth exponentially. If the content grabs, Facebook connections ensue. Maybe Embassy Jakarta’s Facebook site is the place to be for Indonesian social medians. If you want to reach people you speak their language and the Embassy’s Facebook site displays Bahasa Indonesian. Would be interesting to see the metrics on where those 309,878 fans live and vote.

Don’t forget Sana’a while Tripoli has the spotlight

* 2011 March 1 – Fox Boston - Huge progest in Yemen as embattled leader blames US
* 2011 February 24 – Guardian UK – Video: Yemenis outside a university in Sana’a demand that President Ali Abdullah Saleh steps down after 32 years of authoritarian rule
* 2011 February 23 – BBC News reports Yemen’s president orders forces to protect protesters.
* 2011 February 23 – CNNWorld Yemen president calls for new national unity government
* 2011 February 18 – Bloomberg – Largest Yemen Protests to Date Turn Violent as Security Forces Crack Down
* 2011 February 15 – AlJazeera
* 2011 January 27 – BBC Tens of Thousands Call on Yemeni President to Leave

What’s happening in Tunisia

Some may be aware of the pro democracy street activism now occuring in Tunisia. I saw a news report last night on French TV in Washington. This blog reports government oppression, citizen censorship and street violence. Social media tools give citizens a voice. Are there any colleagues in Tunisia who can comment on this ongoing movement?

Since early January, Embassy Tunis’s Facebook page has become one of the frontlines of freedom of speech in a country that is in the process of a democratic transition. Many Tunisians are now using it as their primary source of up-to-the-minute information about current events and popular sentiment.

Collaboration :: Co-LAB

The 21st c. laboratory of collaboration is the web, not a conference table.

Writer Oliver Marks explores changes in the business of government and international relations in his blog Collaboration 2.0
He covers the primary platforms of the U.S. Department of State’s Office of eDiplomacy, where I work. The collaborative products include Diplopedia which is the Department’s online encyclopedia, Communities@State where groups collaborate and share information, and the Secretary of State’s Sounding Board blog where employees submit ideas for process improvement and comment on implementing changes.

Nation Branding

While researching the history and purpose of branding to assist the Office of eDiplomacy develop its branding and online style guidelines, I came across the concept of Nation Branding, coined by Simon Anholt in the mid 1990s. Each year, Gfk America
publishs a survey of how countries rank with nation brand recognition. Just as corporations, universities, NGOs and individuals establish a brand that expresses cohesive imagry and specific value, countries also seek brand recognition to build and manage their reputation. This is sometimes called “place branding” when tourism is the product being marketed.

In a post-modern society, emphasis on the symbolic value associated with products, has influenced nations to inventory their distinctive characteristics and use those points of recognition to elevate the country in global popular consciousness.

Canada promotes an energetic nation branding strategy and regularly places at or near the top on the nation branding survey.  A 2010 Financial Post article recommends Canada take advantage of G-8 and G-20 international gatherings to promote the nation’s brand.

Relatively young countries like New Zealand and Canada with robust democracies, effective immigration policy and minimal legacy stains offer proving grounds for the concept of 21st c. nation branding.  Brand recognition for a nation requires more thought than slapping the image of a maple leaf or a silver fern frond on websites or documents, states guerrilladiplomacy.com, a thoughtful blog.