Tag Archives: online collaboration

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.

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.

Food Diplomacy

 

The United States is promoting community gardening to enhance global relations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture promotes community gardens around the world by providing skilled agronomists and master gardeners to local communities.  This You Tube video discusses rooftop gardens and community vegetable gardens.

Some  gardens are hands-on projects in the U.S.A. like the people’s garden on the grounds of the White House or the garden on the National Mall.

 And other gardens are established in foreign countries through U.S. Embassy liaison with the Department of Agriculture.

Seoul’s People’s Garden initiative is growing well.   On Saturday April 10th,  a celebration of the 2010 People’s Garden project at the Ambassador’s residence attracted more than 150 Korean and American volunteers including 61 children.  

Volunteers celebrated spring in Seoul by digging in the earth and planting dozens of vegetable and flower seedlings.  After the planting spree volunteers ate grilled hot dogs and hamburgers. 

By the harvest celebration later this year they’ll feast on grilled vegetables produced in the garden.

The Washington Post reported on the garden created U.S. Embassy in Seoul.

Ecocide::Will UN Treat Seriously?

Ecocide — an international crime to destroy or contaminate the environment that humans live in.

Sustainabilitank.info reports that supporters of a new ecocide law  believe it could be used to prosecute “climate deniers” who distort science and facts to mislead the uninformed and to discourage voters and politicians from tackling climate change and environmental degredation.

British innovator and lawyer Polly Higgins presents a declaration of planetary rights, and a proposal that declares mass destruction of ecosystems a crime on a par with genocide.  Well, actually, destroying where humans live is the essential genocide, not “on a par with”.

Consider ::  Will it matterwhether it is a crime to eliminate any categories of humans  (genocide) if there is no habitable place for any humans?

Broadband = Citizen Involvement

Government agencies are blogging and tweeting faintly, thumbing into blog e-topia where Gov is already 2.0. Next year’s insiders know what that means. This year’s insiders are already operating in Gov 3.0.

Eugene J. Huang, the Government Operations Director of the National Broadband Task Force, delivered a speech at MIT’s Center for Future Civic Media on Feb. 24th, about Broadband and the Future of Civic Engagement.

“The FCC launched a presence on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites. Since launching on Twitter last fall, we have amassed more than 330,000 twitter followers, making us the third highest of any government agency – behind only the White House and the CDC.” said Huang. FCC sponsors a public access blog where the Broadband Task Force members post updates.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) uses social media platforms to provide access to current health information, providing, for example, reliable information about the H1N1 virus to the public.

Why broadband?

It will expand access to information in our society. A democracy depends on informed and engaged citizens. Broadband internet access will permit more people to reach farther into public information held by governments as well as enable communication among citizens. Broadband would facilitate citizen diplomacy. Citizens can use broadband-enabled tools that will advance democracy and include more participatotion at all levels.

Broadband will facilitate “open and transparent government, public media, social media, engaging citizens in government innovation, and modernizing our democratic processes. We believe that broadband has the potential to transform civic engagement. But this transformation will not occur on its own. It will take a commitment from all of us – our government, our elected leaders, and the American people – to renew our democracy in a broadband enabled twenty-first century,” said Huang.

“Social media … isn’t a pilot project. … Government should use a variety of new media tools – from those primarily used to communicate, to those that enable more intensive participation and that specialize in co-production and co-governance. Social media is also giving rise to citizen-to-citizen diplomacy,” said Huang. Social media tools are connecting individuals across nations and regions. “As one example, the State Department recently launched its “Virtual Student Foreign Service, enabling college students to become “dorm-room diplomats”. These students are then matched with embassies and students in other countries to build transnational relationships and cultural understanding through digital citizen-to-citizen diplomacy,” he said.

Government is making progress with using social media to improve communication, transparancy and customer service. “Recognizing the promise that social medial holds, our federal government should accelerate the adoption of social media technologies across all agencies,” said Huang.

Old + Young Diplomats :: E-training?

Myth:  Anybody with a real job is too old and too busy for social networking.

Reality: Average age of a participant in the social media universe is 37 according to Pingdom. A third of all social network site users are over age 45.   Pew Internet & American Life Project  Nine Tribes of the Internet  explains the personality and behavioural features of new media adapters.

^^^^

How does this impact eDiplomacy?  Diplomats span demographics and job titles.  There are citizen exchange programs and competitions for student diplomats and  Diplomats in Residence at universities.  Ideascale  wants your opinion on a proposed program for school age diplomats. The American Diplomacy Foreign Affairs Oral History Program archives interviews of senior diplomats.

Great Britain maintains a tradition of grooming young diplomats through the Foreign Service Programme at Oxford as described in this article by Jimmy Burns of the Financial Times.   Will they explore the skills and tools required for 21st Century eDiplomacy —  when a modulated voice and firm handshake translate to streaming video convocations and Twitter text?

The United States is still debating the creation of a U.S. Public Service Academy .  Many prospective American diplomats study their trade at private schools  — Georgetown, George Washington, Tufts and other universities.  Yet any U.S. citizen can apply for the Foreign Service Exam,  a step in the application process for career positions with the U.S. Department of State.   U.S. diplomats receive specific training at the Foreign Affairs Training Center .   

Affaires étrangères et Commerce international Canada (Foriegn Affairs and International Trade Canada) presents their Foreign Service Exam with a practice test.  Find out whether you have the proficiency to represent Canada to the world.

German diplomats embrace diplomacy by networking. Germany’s Federal Foreign Office sponsors international training programs for diplomats with networking opportunities for seminar alumni.  “German foreign policy is peace policy” is a vision statement we can all learn from.