Presentation on E-diplomacy at the GCSP Conference on 'Diplomacy 2.0'


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  • Gartner’s model describes how new technology is adopted by society. We provided initial data on web-tools (green dots) and diplomatic practice (blue dots) based on a quick survey among Diplo-staff. The survey shows two biases. The first is a general one, seeing e-diplomacy through the media coverage of e-diplomacy in the US State Department, the most advanced in this field.  For example, the use of Twitter is beyond hype-point, while many other countries and international organisations are in the very early phase of adopting Twitter.The second bias is more specific for Diplo, coloured by our involvement in, for example, online diplomatic training (the last 15 years) and e-participation (the last 6 years). In both areas we have reached the phase of re-evaluating and are trying to move to the ‘plateau of productivity’.  The level of e-learning and e-participation varies worldwide. For example, e-participation is in an early phase, perceived predominantely as the web-broadcasting of international events short of using interactive e-tools.Before you start commenting on the map, let me provide a short explanation of the e-diplomacy hype cycle illustration. The cycle starts with a technology trigger and moves quickly to the peak of inflated expectations.  This is the moment of high techno-excitement.  The cycle then turns downwards towards the phase of disillusionment.. In this phase we start asking questions: Are these tools really as efficient as we thought? Are they really going to change social reality? Twitter is being re-evaluated in this way at the moment by diplomats.In the disillusionment phase, the survey puts the impact of Internet tools on public diplomacy, diplomatic training, and consular service.This re-evaluation sets the stage for  the slope of enlightenment, and ultimately, what Gartner calls the 'plateau of productivity'  or real and full use of new technology in diplomatic activities.  According to the survey, the use of webinar tools and MFA blogs is approaching maturity, as they are increasingly integrated into everyday diplomatic activities.Some activities could not fit easily in the model. One of them is negotiations. I disagreed with the ‘collective wisdom’ of Diplo (expressed in the survey) that negotiations is at the beginning of the cycle. Although there is very little techno-hype around negotiations, the Internet and computers have already had a rather invisible, but profound,  impact on negotiations. Some simple tools such as editing with track changes in MS Word or e-mail exchange in the preparations of face-to-face negotiations have already impacted negotiation dynamics substantially.Please let us know your views on the first version of the e-diplomacy hype cycle based on input from Diplo’s community. Is anything missing? Are the different tools and diplomatic activities properly placed?
  • An example from a Diplo staff member of curation, gathering links and source into a Netvibes page to share with colleagues and students
  • Watch from 00.40 to 04.40
  • Example of search engine bias against Southern sources: there are many strong research and policy institutions in Africa and elsewhere in the global South but the algorithms used by Google favour Northern insitutions. And there is more, as this video clip shows
  • Do you curate your own image, or that of your organisation? Have you googled yourself, and what about when people tag you, as in the picture of me at the top, at a festival. I didn’t know that person was tagging me in that photo that he put online. I don’t mind, but there are lots of examples of people being tagged in situations they don’t want to share. It takes time to find out and to change. And then what about pictures of children on the web – tagged by parents of their friends, at birthday parties, for example.
  • Here on the left is the original tweet about the ambassadors official vehicle. It included the Canadian regulations dealing with the purchase of official details. This went viral on weibo, because it touched the hot issue of government use of public funds. In the first week of December canadaweibo had a tweet go viral and gain widespread national media attention in China. In advance of the Ambassador’s webchat and interviews we had been saving up some “supertweets” which we thought might generate interest in the HOM’s webchat. One of them took off to a degree beyond our expectations. In this tweet, the Ambassador introduced his car – a modest hybrid – and outlined the GoC rules for purchase of official vehicles. While this sounds innocuous to Canadians, it predictably touched a nerve in China, where misuse of public funds is an exceptionally hot issue. Within one day the tweet had 900 comments and 2 thousand retweets. The majority of comments were complaints about Chinese government spending and the priviledges of cadres. A minority of followers suggested that this was interference in Chinese affairs, or that Canadians were just cheap (which I suppose we are). Many made more substantive remarks about transparency and governance. The Ambassador entered the discussion, responding to critics that our fans like to know how the Embassy and the Canadian government function, and we are telling them. Gratifyingly, some Chinese government officials posted positive comments about our operating procedures.
  • The story was widely covered by Chinese media and the discussion itself became news, which was widely reported on by online and traditional news sources. The tone of coverage was surprisingly positive. Even Global Times, who have in the past been generally tough on Canada, focussed on the issue of governance and how Canada was making a contribution. Quoting a member of the National People’s Congress, the paper noted: "Government vehicle issue in China is a mess, and our government is the most unwilling in the world to talk about it," said Ye Qing, a deputy known for his studies into the matter “I really appreciate the ambassador's attitude and their government's transparency,"
  • Earlier this year, a new Chinese policy on official car purchases was announced. Im not sure that we are responsible for that, but we certainly catalyzed a debate, or at least made a contribution to it that we probably couldn’t have done via demarches. I would like to note that the proportion of these “serious” or “sensitive” tweets to all other news on Canadweibo has to be kept low to avoid getting a reputation for being preachy, rather than helpful, transparent, and informative.
  • There is experimentation everywhere: we are only at the beginning
  • Tips for facebook?National/linguistic/refional culture driven variationsin essence it’s a photo sharing site monitor for it’s use a communication infrastructure
  • 30 embassies have sites in Sina Weibo, canada second, 250,000 followers; 424 Million members; illustreates, that as with Orkut in Brazil 5-1- years ago, the social network becomes the media infrastructure, the first place many people engage with the Interweb
  • Open (and linked) data coming up the inside track like an express train – are you ready to be mashed up, and questioned wherever you are
  • There is a myriad of new tools, and they are all changing… so best to get away from a tool focus
  • E-competent staff: 5C21ct Century ICT Infrastructure: Can I walk in the building and plag your notebooks (infrastructure). Policy – how many approvalsEnabling, responsive leadership/management: Hilary Clinton, Ambassador in Beijing (High risk treshold), Car (randomness), Israel (control the story), Bahrain (no control of the story)Knowledge flows freely laterally & vertically (US Embassy bombing in East Africa – they had information and reports) – DiploPedia (knowledge flowing verticall and horisontally(Organisatoinal policies: Canada and Italy do not have; No Facebook; IG Department is more conservative (can they control things). Is it try to block FacebookFinancial resorucesResilienceSocial media monitorign (you have listen). Engagement with influencersEngage mass audiencesE-diplomacy auditOnline training (1 day – 1 month – 1 year)
  • resiliency capability - three components: real-time monitoring: The Bureau of Public Affairs’ Rapid Response Unit has a small team monitoring social media responses to developments that have the potential to impact U.S. national interests. They produce short daily briefing reports with an anecdotal look at the online response to specific events/issues (for example, on the closure of the U.S. embassy in Syria) across the Arabic, Chinese, English and Spanish social media spheres. identification and cultivation of key online influencers: It is now possible to create maps of online influencers by subject area, which would allow diplomats on the ground to have a better sense of who is driving discussion on specific issues and who they should be reaching out to (in the same way diplomats currently use intuition to identify and build relations with politicians, officials and journalists they think influential). The Office of Audience Research in IIP is exploring analytics and social media management tools as a way of helping to better understand online conversations and the impact State is having, but could usefully focus on identifying influencers. capability to speak (and engage) directly with a mass audience: State now has a global reach approaching 15 million people on Facebook and Twitter alone and that reach remains on a very strong growth trajectory. Combined, these three facets amount to a nascent resiliency capability that would allow State to quickly identify social media conversations that have the potential to affect national interests, to put their own case directly to a large online audience, and to reach out and explain their perspective to key online influencers.
  • E-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.
  • Presentation on E-diplomacy at the GCSP Conference on 'Diplomacy 2.0'

    1. 1. E-diplomacy presentation by Jovan Kurbalija ‘Diplomacy 2.0’ Courseat the Geneva Center for Security Policy February 2013
    2. 2. About Diplo Involved in e-diplomacy since 1992(as part of the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies) Established as an independent foundation by the governments of Malta and Switzerland in 2002 Offices in Malta, Geneva, and Belgrade 20 full-time and 40 part-time staff UN ECOSOCspecial consultative status Alumni of 2300 diplomats & officials from 189 countries
    3. 3. Evolution of Diplomacy: Continuity &Change Telephon Telegraph e – Radio – TV Railway Maritime transportPigeons Thousands years of the history of diplomacy
    4. 4. Continuity & Change “My God, this is the end of diplomacy.” Reaction of Lord Palmerstone when he received the first telegraph back in 1850sLord Palmerstone A few phases from Calendar 2013…..
    5. 5. EVOLUTION of Modern Diplomacy Changes in the ENVIRONMENT for diplomaticactivities Introduction of NEW TOPICSon diplomatic agendas Introduction of NEW TOOLS for diplomatic activities
    6. 6. NEW ENVIRONMENT forDiplomatic Activities
    7. 7. Cable Geo-Strategy
    8. 8. Emotional Geo-Strategy
    9. 9. New Actors- Facilitated by theInternet-basedcommunication- Beyondgovernments andpolitical elites- Diplomats’monopoly in foreignrelations has beenundermined.- Need for dialoguewith new actors indiplomacy (broadenough – deepenough).
    10. 10. NEW TOPICS onDiplomatic Agenda
    11. 11. Identity on the Internet Dissection of a web (DNS) address: http:// www. diplomacy. edu /ig office@ mtid. gov. rs Top-Level Domains (TLD) a) gTLD – generic: com, edu, gov, org; net, int; biz, travel, info, ... b) ccTLD - country code: rs, uk, eu, bw, za
    12. 12. NEW TOOLS forDiplomatic Activities
    13. 13. E-tools forDiplomaticActivities
    14. 14. Limits for theuse of e-tools 24 hours day 8 pieces ofinformation inworking memory maintain 148stable socialcontacts (Dunbar’snumber)
    15. 15. “Everyone tells me I should be on Twitter, should I?”
    16. 16. What is the best timing to join e-diplomacy?
    17. 17. essentiale-competencies for diplomats
    18. 18. create communicate audiencescollaborate curate critique
    19. 19. Main challenges Curate Communicate? Collaborate – Create - Critique Developing social media credentials (engaging, relevant content) while preserving diplomatic credentials (avoid unnecessary controversies and reduce risk)
    20. 20. 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
    21. 21. curate RSS - netvibes
    22. 22. Eli Pariser: Beware online "filter bubbles“
    23. 23. be awareof searchbias
    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 Anticipate and react
    25. 25. Case study: Car of Canadian Embassy in Beijing 31
    26. 26. Ambassador’s car: chinesemedia responses 32
    27. 27. Ambassador’s car: epilogue 33
    28. 28. collaborate Wikis, Google tools Blogs Online social networks – Twitter & Yammer Integrated portals (mobile accessible websites)
    29. 29. §
    30. 30. Create make digital content including audio, image, text, website, blog, video, wikis Protect - copyright, privacy, digital footprint
    31. 31. Open data –are you ready?
    32. 32. Critique Monitor online media Assess the validity/authenticity of sites/information Reflect on one’s own practice and that of ones peers - blogs, forums etc Beware filter bubbles…
    33. 33. Brian Solis – The conversation prism
    34. 34. essential e-competenciesfor diplomatic institutions
    35. 35. How many MFAs use social media?Approximately 140 MFAs have establishedan online presence.38% use Twitter37% use Facebook28% use YouTube6% have a blog (or blog roll) on their mainwebsite.(DiploFoundation study – ongoing)
    36. 36. Institutional capability for e-diplomacy E-competent staff 21st Century ICT infrastructure and policies Enabling, responsive leadership/management – Acceptance of risk and failure tolerant Knowledge flows freely laterally & vertically Organisational policies for e-tools Financial resource for training, experimentation and scale-up
    37. 37. Institutional Resilience Social media monitoring Engagement with influencers Capability to reach and engage mass audiences
    38. 38. Some principles…to be augmented1. 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.
    39. 39. How to build e-diplomacy capacity ONE DAY – learn how to use social media technically ONE MONTH – learn about organisation and culture of social media space ONE YEAR – use social media effectively