For those of us who yearn for Britain to convincingly and conclusively leave behind its bloody imperialist past, the latest James Bond film, Skyfall, teases the audience with images of weakening Britain, less influential or relevant in a globalised economy and culture and multiple power centres. For those of you who haven’t seen it, one of the central themes of the latest James Bond film, Skyfall is ageing: both Bond and M, the head of M16, are presented early in the film as challenged, partly by their waning powers but more by being out of touch with the modern world. Reassuringly for its audience, of course, as the film develops the young tyro Q is outsmarted by another older and wilier enemy agent; Bond rises to the challenge, especially as the climax of the film takes place in a throwback world – a remote Scottish moor, intensely physical and untouched by computers; and M, well, you’ll have to see the film.
Picture from November 2011; Diplo was training in the MFA in October 2011. Staff we were working with were outraged, puzzled, alarmed that they had lost control of the public, global conversation
I don’t want to make too much of it, but this is the 26 year old who has been managing the relatively successful IDF public diplomacy campaign, through smart use of Twitter and other social media. The notes above are the core of successful social media campaigns
‘Audience’ from DIRCO in South Africa, during a day of national celebration of diversity
Stefano Baldi, Director of the Istituto Diplomatico, in Rome, a long-time innovator in e-diplomacy.
Other elements of curation
The US State Dept. Diplopedia, a superb example of the use of social media for collaboration. Developed as an internal resource, behind the State Dept firewall, using wikimedia (Open Source software, the platform for wikipedia) and open to all for amendment, as you can see in this example of a resource quickly made available to staff working on the State Department response to the Haiti earthquake in 2010. (Slide provided by Richard Boly of US State]
Examples of tools people use to collaborate See ushahidi.com or http://ipaidabribe.or.ke for examples of integrated portals
Note ‘assumed competence’ as the principle for FCO staff engagement online Tips for facebook? National/linguistic/refional culture driven variations in essence it’s a photo sharing site monitor for it’s use a communication infrastructure
An active democracy needs competent users of e-tools
QQ still retains market lead among teens and small town users QQ may be making a comeback because of its new “weixin” format. The social media market in China is moving as fast as in the rest of the world. Weibo’s dominance is only 2 years old – its entirely possible that in 2 years it will be eclipsed by another format like weixin or something that we haven’t yet heard of. It is impossible to rest in this environment.
Weibo posts have real-world impact. They draw public attention to problems, and forcing changes It is still a means to chitchat, but has also evolved into a tool for breaking and discussing significant news stories in China Weibo challenges the state’s narrative of events Here is a case study. On July 23 2011 the Wenzhou Train Derailment Accident caused at least 39 deaths and 192 injuries. One of the first sources of information was a Sina Weibo tweet from a blogger claiming to be a survivor, which was re-tweeted 100,000 times in 10 hours. The State Railway Authority was not forthcoming with information at first, but their hand was forced by bloggers who openly discussed the incident online.
A tweet about Canadian regulations dealing with the purchase of official details went viral on weibo, because it touched the hot issue of government use of public funds.
The story was widely covered by Chinese media, which could have been problematic for the Embassy, which could have been seen as criticising Government policy. The Ambassador didn’t kill the story, let it run – which requires a ‘high risk tolerance’, an essential attribute for those wishing to experiment in social media.
The car policy has recently been altered. Maybe a coincidence.
The competency that ties it all together
A competency checklist
And diplomats ‘have a responsibility to be creative’ (quote from webinar participant, Rome 2013)
Innovation, youth, and guerilla action: Ambassador Rana describes a situation where young diplomats in India took the initiative and started a discussion group since the Intranet was ineffective for Knowledge Sharing. They learnt lessons as they negotiated the response from the Ministry.
A high tolerance of risk is an essential pre-requisite for innovation
E-diplomacy - Asia Pacific Public Diplomacy workshop
Asia Pacific Public Diplomacy
• Prioritise resilience
• Social media monitoring
• Engagement with influencers
• Capability to reach and engage mass audiences
make digital content including
audio, image, text, website, blog,
Protect - copyright, privacy,
Monitor online media
Assess the validity/authenticity of
– Get closer to the source
– Corroborate the content
Reflect on one’s own practice and
that of one's peers - blogs, forums
• Founded August 2009 by SINA corp
• SINA started using the domain name
weibo.com in April 2011
• China’s most popular microblog
site, with over 424,000,000
Share /disseminate/ distribute - wiki,
blog, discussion forum, email,
Google+, twitter, online social
Promote - twitter, blog, online social
networks, and email
– See survey of MFA twitter account
Engage, engage, engage
E-diplomacy - scenario planning
You have to advise on a communication and media
strategy, including what communication channels you
would use and what role staff in the embassy and HQ
could play. Be as concrete as possible about channels,
suggesting prepared tweets, for example.
EITHER: there has been an assault on a foreign national
studying in your country, from an important market for your
education services. This has been linked in the local and
international press to a resurgence of right wing and racist
political activity in your country over the past 3 years.
OR: your government is planning a major engineering project,
strongly backed by your Prime Minister since it was an
election promise to his constituency in a poorer part of the
country. The project is opposed by a coalition of national and
international environmental groups. In three weeks your PM is
visiting ASEM in Italy. Greenpeace and other campaigning
groups are mobilizing support for demonstrations in Italy and
global social media campaigns.
Risks, Opportunities & organisations
Plenary Brainstorm – risks and
Two groups (possibly two groups of
– Consider management of risk and
enabling of opportunities
– Record on a flipchart
Report back and discussion