Category Archives: Tools for 21st century diplomacy

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

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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.

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.

Collaboration Behind a Firewall

How to build a culture of collaboration

Professional Networking Platforms for Governments

Creating a searchable directory of contact information  for the employees of government agencies isn’t a new concept. Not so long ago, agency telephone directories were the tool of choice for finding colleagues.

Now, social networking sites facilitate internal or cross-agency searches for colleagues with expertise in particular subjects.

LinkedIn is one of the best known professional networking platforms. Others include NingXing, Yammer and other sites detailed on this list.  The Wall Street Journal wrote about social networking among professionals seeking experts for consultation or collaboration.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires staff to register professional data on entry, as part of new employee check-in procedures.  The idea is to have access to the skillsets and knowledge of all employees.  Without a database of skills — which may go far beyond one’s job title, pay grade or academic degrees — how can scientists find the best person for feedback, comment, brainstorming or information?   The professional networking database is behind NRC’s firewall, but they do keep an open door for public participation.

The blog-stirs are drumming interest in the U.S. State Department’s proposed social networking platform with a draft title “Statebook”. 

* 2010 April 27 – Government Computer News – State Department social network in the works

*2010 April 17 – OhMyGov – State Department to Launch Its Own Social Network Statebook

* 2010 April 12 –  GovTech – Facebook Style Site Coming Soon to the U.S. State Department

* 2010 April 8 – IT Web – Departamento de Estado dos EUA terá rede como Facebook (Portuguese version)

* 2010 April 8 –  Information Week –  State Department Building Facebook Style Site

Professional networking sites benefit constituencies and customers, as well as employee groups. The Scottish local government uses professional networks to enable communication with its customers and among public service sectors.  Science Daily reports on the educational benefits of social and professional networking sites.