Context, capacity & capability social media for diplomats

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A presentation for a webinar in the Advance Diplomacy series, co-organised with the Istituto Diplomatico, Rome

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  • Digital technologies, social media and global media platforms are quintessential disruptive technology, as powerful as the invention of the printing press.The tension between the world we have known and the one we inhabit is central to any conversation about eDiplomacy. It’s an acute tension. I’m told Diplomacy is the second oldest profession in the world, it has thousands of years of learning and tradition, personified here and in other Ministries where I have worked with Diplo. If we date the new era from the birth of the PC, which liberated users from the iron control of Computer Specialists in lab-coats we are talking less just over 30 years, and if we start from the new age ushered in by the birth of the web, just over 20 years. Twitter was born in 2006. But this and other most well known social media tools are the tip of an iceberg: they ride on a digital infrastructure and economy, which is expanding at light speed, especially through the explosion in mobile devices and the continuous innovation in these convergent tools and services.
  • Context 1: policy elites and other actors have common online patterns globallySoiurce: Simon Batchelor – IDS Impact and Learning Blog
  • Context 2: the obvious stuffSource: Huffington post statistics interpreted by iStrategyLabs http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/social-stats-2012_b33257
  • Context 3:jaw dropping – not many people I know are active on Google+, although they are members
  • Context 3: less obvious perhapsSources: http://blog.hootsuite.com/chinese-social-media-101/http://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2012/10/25/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-chinese-social-media/
  • Context 4: A changing world and eDiplomacyAnne-Marie Slaughter, Remarks, The Big Picture: Beyond Hot Spots & Crises in Our Interconnected World, 1 Penn. St. J.L. & Int'l Aff. 286 (2012). Available at: http://elibrary.law.psu.edu/jlia/vol1/iss2/5
  • Anne-Marie Slaughter, Remarks, The Big Picture: Beyond Hot Spots & Crises in Our Interconnected World, 1 Penn. St. J.L. & Int'l Aff. 286 (2012). Available at: http://elibrary.law.psu.edu/jlia/vol1/iss2/5BB world – Cuban missile crisis, current day US-IranL world –Internet Governance treaty banning landmines11 and the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court12 —both were put in motion by coalitions of social actors
  • The central role of diplomats as skilledintermediaries, a channel to other countries, is changing
  • Symbiotic relationship with technology in general and social media in particular
  • Digital technologies, social media and global media platforms are quintessential disruptive technology, as powerful as the invention of the printing press.The tension between the world we have known and the one we inhabit is central to any conversation about eDiplomacy. It’s an acute tension. I’m told Diplomacy is the second oldest profession in the world, it has thousands of years of learning and tradition, personified here and in other Ministries where I have worked with Diplo. If we date the new era from the birth of the PC, which liberated users from the iron control of Computer Specialists in lab-coats we are talking less just over 30 years, and if we start from the new age ushered in by the birth of the web, just over 20 years. Twitter was born in 2006. But this and other most well known social media tools are the tip of an iceberg: they ride on a digital infrastructure and economy, which is expanding at light speed, especially through the explosion in mobile devices and the continuous innovation in these convergent tools and services.
  • ‘Audience’ from DIRCO in South Africa, during a day of national celebration of diversity
  • Stefano Baldi, Director of the IstitutoDiplomatico, 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 collaborateSee ushahidi.com or http://ipaidabribe.or.ke for examples of integrated portals
  • Note ‘assumed competence’ as the principle for FCO staff engagement onlineTips for facebook?National/linguistic/refional culture driven variationsin essence it’s a photo sharing site monitor for it’s use a communication infrastructure
  • An active democracy needs competent users of e-tools
  • Source:Storyfull verification process: http://blog.storyful.com/2012/04/24/inside-storyful-storyfuls-verification-process/#.UOt-kBis3Vh
  • QQ still retains market lead among teens and small town usersQQ 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 changesIt is still a means to chitchat, but has also evolved into a tool for breaking and discussing significant news stories in ChinaWeibo challenges the state’s narrative of eventsHere 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.
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBnqISZ91NA
  • Started June 6, 2011Run by the Public Diplomacy section, under HOM’s overviewThese are three homepages we have used so far. We change once a season with photos supplied by our followers. The persona for the Canadian site of a youngish women, with the attributes above – not attributes traditionally associated with diplomatic communication
  • 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 Chinesemedia, 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 competencychecklistAnd diplomats ‘have a responsibility to be creative’ (quote from webinar participant, Rome 2013)
  • Archaic vsHellenestic: standing firmvs poised to take action: what is the posture of your Ministry or institutiion?
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Integrated strategies as an alternative – although they bring their own headaches
  • A high tolerance of risk is an essential pre-requisite for innovation
  • A set of suggested principles that came from the Geneva eDiplomacy day, 2012E-tools and procedures cannot be imposed. They need to grow bottom-up from diplomats. Sometimes they come from diplomats with an interest in the Internet. With a technologically savvy young generation, this is becoming more common. Sometimes, technologists should nudge diplomats to start using certain tools.The old quote from Einstein applies: If you can't explain it to a six-year-old, you don't understand it yourself.  Simplicity paves the way for acceptance of new tools. The attention span of users is limited.Money rarely solves the problems that e-diplomacy has to address: changes in professional cultures and new approaches. On the contrary, a lot of money can trigger grand projects and lead towards ultimate failure. You can get great graphs, hire many expensive consultants, and give exciting presentations. But change does not happen this way. The corporate sector and governments are full of grand e-projects which failed.It is easy to slip into an attempt to create strategy. As soon as we see a new tool emerging, we tend to put it in a strategic framework.The tolerance of failure is the main field of tension between diplomacy and social media cultures. Diplomacy is a risk-avoidance profession. Social media projects have an in-built possibility for failure. Many social initiatives fail.Diplomatic services are rich with expertise and knowledge. These resources are usually underutilised because of organisation and professional structure. Diplomatic services have to move from the traditional need-to-know principle to a need to share.Most of the current e-diplomacy coverage focuses on public diplomacy: twiplomacy, president and ministers tweeting, etc. It is just the tip of iceberg. Much more of e-diplomacy happens in thousands of diplomatic negotiations, policy initiatives, and mediation happening every day worldwide. They are less visible than public diplomacy, but not less important. They involve, among others,  e-participation in international meetings, inclusive drafting of political documents, and foreign policy coordination in diplomatic services and national governments.Traditionally, diplomatic services tended to control the interpretation of the message by domestic and foreign public (selection of media, reducing ambiguity). In the social media space, it is almost impossible to control the interpretation of message. Diplomatic services should be aware of this risk.E-diplomacy innovation needs support from the top leadership. This is particularly important in the early days of innovation.  One of the success factors of the State Department’s E-diplomacy project was personal support from the State Secretary Clinton.
  • Context, capacity & capability social media for diplomats

    1. 1. social media for diplomats context, competence & capability
    2. 2. social media and diplomacy Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Wikipedia 1. A new context for diplomacy 2. Essential e-competencies for diplomats 3. Change and institutional capability
    3. 3. Online activity - policy actors in Ethiopia, Nepal, India, Kenya & Ghana Communication, emails etc. Phone over the Internet (Skype etc.) Instant messaging Internet Communities Entertainment – video or audio Uploading self-created content to the Internet Reading or downloading news/newspapers Seeking health related information Obtaining information from public authority websites Downloading official forms
    4. 4. • Nearly a Billion Users — Mostly on Mobile • 514 million internet users: est. 54% use social media • July 2012: 700 million monthly active users on QQ, and 500 million monthly active users on Qzone. • Several others exceed 100 million users • Most Chinese social media activity happens on mobile.
    5. 5. • Nearly a Billion Users — Mostly on Mobile • 514 million internet users: est. 54% use social media • July 2012: 700 million monthly active users on QQ, and 500 million monthly active users on Qzone. • Several others exceed 100 million users • Most Chinese social media activity happens on mobile.
    6. 6. Anne-Marie Slaughter, Princeton University, US State Dept. Director of Policy Planning, 09-11
    7. 7. States were like billiard balls. We tried to prevent them from crashing into each other. We did not, however, look inside them. We did not think we could change what happened inside them. Relations were/are between MFA The 2013 world is multi-polar A second rebalancing of power in the world over the past three or four decades has been a shift in power from governments to social actors. Both co-exist but need different kinds of leadership and diplomacy
    8. 8. States come apart in Lego world  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Justice and Treasury departments network with their counterparts in other countries.  They can network or partner or make an alliance with social actors.  Governments can be taken apart, put together with corporations, foundations, NGOs, church groups, universities, or any number of social actors in any number of different coalitions.
    9. 9. Power and leadership  Traditionally we think of power in hierarchies and power is by command, by controlling agendas and structuring options or preferences.  The Lego world is a networked world (cf William Hague), a horizontal world. It is a web. Power is exercised from the center, not the top. – you cannot command, so you mobilize – the most connected person is the person who can mobilize everybody else  Leadership in the Lego world follows a “connect and orchestrate” model.
    10. 10. social media and diplomacy 1. 2. Essential e-competencies for diplomats 3. Change and institutional capability
    11. 11. curate
    12. 12. Curate  Find - Internet search, Wikipedia, Google scholar, e-resources, image textbook, etc  Filter - RSS feeds,  Collate/collect: social and personal bookmarking, mind- mapping, online storage  Public curation
    13. 13. collaborate
    14. 14. collaborate  Wikis, Google tools  Blogs  Online social networks – Twitter & Yammer  Integrated portals (mobile accessible websites)
    15. 15. Create
    16. 16. Create  make digital content including audio, image, text, website, blog, video, wikis  Protect - copyright, privacy, digital footprint
    17. 17. Critique  Monitor online media  Assess the validity/authenticity of sites/information – Get closer to the source – Corroborate the content  Reflect on one’s own practice and that of one's peers - blogs, forums etc
    18. 18. 21 SINA weibo • 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 members Communicate
    19. 19. 22
    20. 20. Informal Diverse Transparent Interesting 24
    21. 21. Case Study: the Ambassador’s Car 25
    22. 22. 26
    23. 23. 27
    24. 24. Communicate  Share /disseminate/ distribute - wiki, blog, discussion forum, email, Google+, twitter, online social networks  Promote - twitter, blog, online social networks, and email  Engage, engage, engage
    25. 25. #ediplomacy – questions?  Who needs to be trained – all staff, just communicators?  Should this level of competence be the minimum threshold for MFA entry?  What other competencies should we include?
    26. 26. Change and institutional Capability
    27. 27. Models of change
    28. 28. Models of change To achieve it, we will: • ensure effective leadership • ensure the capability needed • provide staff with access to digital media and . • take full advantage of digital diplomacy • as well as embedding digital in every element of policy formulation, the FCO will enhance open policy formulation and transparency. • continue to produce high-quality, integrated communications • deliver digital by default for our services
    29. 29. Institutional capability for e-diplomacy
    30. 30. Institutional capability for e-diplomacy  Enabling, responsive leadership/management – Acceptance of risk and failure tolerant • Risk assessement and contingency planning – Leading by example? – Rewarding experimentation, innovation and mainstreaming of e-diplomacy – Prioritising resilience • Social media monitoring • Engagement with influencers • Capability to reach and engage mass audiences
    31. 31. Institutional capability for e-diplomacy  E-competent staff  21st Century ICT infrastructure and policies – Organisational policies for e-tools – Acceptance that IT/ICT/IM is not accountable for all digital media  Knowledge flows freely laterally & vertically  Organisational policies for e-tools  Financial resource for training, experimentation and scale-up  Porous institutional boundaries (for a lego world)
    32. 32. Some principles…to be augmented 1. Put users, diplomats, particularly young officials in the driving seat. 2. Make it as simple as possible. 3. The higher the budget often the lower the impact of e- diplomacy projects. 4. Avoid a grand e-diplomacy strategy. 5. You cannot succeed without failure. Make sure that failures are contained and cheap and that lessons are learned. 6. The most valuable resource is in the huge knowledge and experience in people around you. Make sure you utilise it. 7. E-diplomacy is much more than public diplomacy. 8. You cannot control the message in social media. 9. Top leadership is innovation’s best friend.
    33. 33. #ediplomacy – questions?  How can spontaneity and informality develop within a bureaucracy?  How best to have a conversation about risk and emerge a consensus?

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