social media

Snapchat, Livestreaming and Digital Diplomacy

Bond 007 snap by UK FCO

UK FCO using James Bond in Snapchat! (source: http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/)

From a personal perspective, it has taken a while for me to see the point of Snapchat and live-streaming apps like Periscope.

First the ephemeral and live trends have some crossover, but they’re also a little different (which might be worth another future post), but both are so new that they’re worth talking about together.

One of the issues with both ephemeral and live social media is that it can be hard for an organization to measure engagement in the traditional sense.  Some have suggested that this can be a major hurdle for the adoption of these new technologies, but I disagree that it’s an engagement issue.  It’s simply more that for marketers and communication staff, there is not yet any real way to measure the engagement yet in the traditional sense and link it to expectations such as “bottom line” or to traditional KPIs such as “conversions”. Although even on that, there are some indicators–and just like 10 years ago with twitter, the US government might be leading on this as the US government has recently jumped onto Snapchat.  In announcing their entry onto the platform, they even shared how they were going to :

  • Followers: We’ll measure our audience size after six months and assess growth. Are we seeing new followers being added or are people unfollowing us?

  • Views/Completion Rate: Snapchat lets you see how many people are watching your story and where they drop off in the process. We’ll measure those numbers to determine if people are watching the whole story or giving up halfway through. We’ll also analyze what kind of content performs best so that we can deliver more of what our audience wants.

  • Engagement: We’ll look at the number of people who send Snaps back to us to help determine how engaging our content is.

  • Screenshots: Snapchat notifies you when someone takes a screenshot of your content. We’ll use screenshots to help us determine if we’re sharing important information that our audience thinks is worth keeping. We’ll look at what kind of content is screenshotted the most to learn what’s important to our followers.

(The UK’s foreign ministry also uses Snapchat well in their international outreach, although I preferred how simply the above example crystallized how they were going to measure results. However, the UK blog post which is well worth reading, explains some of the challenges of using Snapchat very well.)

Many of these products are integrated into larger platforms – Facebook Live with Facebook; Periscope with Twitter;  upcoming YouTube Connect with YouTube.  So these snaps or live broadcasts can be repurposed and shared elsewhere. This means you’d possibly then see engagement from there.  The hurdle is not the newness of the platforms, but getting your content right and doing your due diligence as with any other social platform. See very often organizations simply jump onto new platforms without assessing their resources, thinking about the demographics their targeting and keeping in mind the pecularities of the platform.  I’d imagine that this is still mandatory even if you are jumping onto a new platform!

The last thing I’d say is that the potential long duration (Periscope and other live apps) of video should not be intimidating. It’s actually ok if viewers jump in and out of videos and this is not necessarily that new. It’s just not how people consume even traditional media like television, think of how often the TV is on in the background at your house!  Think of any broadcast or video you’ve seen before, for example, in 2014, the United Nations streamed their entire UN Social Media Day which if I recall correctly, I followed on livestream.  I obviously did not sit all day watching it, but I remember sending in tweets in their Q&A that were responded to, so I was able to “engage” and derive value without watching the whole thing.  And now the video is available on YouTube as are experts from it.  Basically, I don’t think all types of live streams necessarily require ones full attention from beginning to end.

Very interesting to see how all this develops.

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Social Media and Self-Identity

Young professionals are now facing the conodurum of receiving friend request’s from new employers or more formal contacts.  We already know that the teens are fleeing  Facebook since parents, uncles, teachers, etc have started monitoring their activities there. But what about those of us that are more established with our online social networks? It’s easy to avoid that aunt, or even your dad, on Facebook. But the employment one is more difficult to figure out.

I’ve been thinking about this since I’m currently reading Danah Boyd’s It’s Complicated.  Her book focuses on teen use of social media but it raises interesting questions about how and why people use digital platforms to communicate and also how that affects the quality of their lives. In an offline context, most people would act differently depending on the environment–in their living room, at a bar, at a business networking event, etc. Why shouldn’ t it be the same online? I’ve only just joined Linkdn with a view to facilitating my long-term career progression.  I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Reddit. I’m “signed up” on Instagram and Google Plus but I don’t use either. There is actually not much overlap in my social networks, but they serve different purposes:

Facebook is like me at a house party. I’m at the bar. I’m talking about stuff I would talk about at a bar, in the way that I would at the bar on a Saturday night. I’m not talking politics or anything too heavy, on here I simply don’t take myself too seriously. If someone is going to friend me here, ideally it would be someone that I’d be comfortable downing a couple of shots with on a pub crawl. Or someone who I’d be ok inviting to a friends block house party.

Facebook is also where I share photos from social events. Another cool area of Facebook I’ve discovered is that it’s actually pretty decent for following famous personalities or activities in a casual sense.  It’s actually kind of cool to see what other projects and adventures the crew of X-Men or Fast & Furious experience (by the way for my marketers, the marketing for the X-Men: Days of Future Past movie was off the charts, they did a fantastic job on Facebook marketing that for a year).

Twitter meanwhile is where I follow industry leaders on topics that I actually would feel compelled to engage in. For me that is International Relations, Politics, Tech, Social Media.  I just find it a more intellectual endeavor than Facebook in the way that I use it. I also dabble in soccer over there, as you get news directly from the top journalists in the sport and you can even interact with them sometimes–again this is at a higher level.  Obviously some people use it as a stream-of-thought style, which is how I use Facebook.

Pinterest meanwhile is where I go to dream. Pinterest is the digital depiction of my dreams and fantasies.  My fondest hobbies, my biggest wishes, things that take my breath away….I display those on Pinterest, where pictures speak a thousand words. Here, it does not matter who I follow or who is following me, it’s irrelevant.

Reddit, I’m there for getting answers to random Q & As. For me, Reddit has taken over from Yahoo Answers! which used to be the best at this pre-social media.  I’m also there for anime, which is another of my hobbies (I have many hobbies–why not? Having too many things that provide pleasure in your life is better than having the opposite problem where you are bored and nothing tugs at your heart).

Linkedn is new to me, I’ve only just signed on.  I’m still trying to figure it out but I think it will end up being a resource to help or get help from alumni and work colleagues for professional networking. Some of the articles I’ve seen are interesting, but it can become a source of information overload, plus for industry trends I prefer getting it directly from thought leaders on Twitter.

Yet my expectations of these platforms and how I use them may differ widely from others–for example, Reddit describes itself as ” an entertainment, social networking service and news website where registered community members can submit content, such as text posts or direct links.” Yet I never use it as a news source at all–the thought had never even occurred to me until I decided to write this blog post (I get my news on Twitter).  Nor have I use it for entertainment per se (that’s Facebook for me).   Returning to the premise of this post then is it appropriate for everyone to be in all of your networks? Or is it highly dependent on context? Is it leading a double-life to present different faces on different platforms? Or is the self always shining through, and you should be an open book everywhere and all the time?  Are these questions Human Resource Officers should consider when developing corporate social media policies for employees?

 

The Washington Post’s Outstanding Weather Blog

Lincoln Memorial Snow

DC is a beauty when it snows. (Photo credit: Gab!S on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gabebuc/)

This morning Washington, DC has been hit by one of the strongest snowstorm in years, with an average of about a foot in most of the area.  The federal government has shuttered down, they made the call late last night to the delirous delight of thousands of adults in the capital city. Snow day!!! It never  loses it’s magic, does it? The way your inner child jumps up in joy when work closes has been seared into our psyche from our days of Middle School when we didn’t have to do our homework and would stay up late watching TV.

So how have I spent most of my morning? By reading a newspaper blog online which is……way more fun that it sounds, you will not believe me. Like the WEATHER section of the newspaper. The most fascinating and addictive blog on the internet might just be about the weather.  I am referring to the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang’s Blog . The gang affectionately referred to as CWG is run by Washington Post staff who are actual meteorologists. 

As a student of social media, there are many areas that are interesting enough that they could be fertile research topics for an enterprising grad student.  For example:

Two Way Communication:  I have never seen a “serious” blog in which the bloggers interact with their commenters as much as they do here. By “serious” I mean a blog run by technical professionals employed on behalf of a large visible organization.  There is a lot of public interaction, the Post’s weather staff there drops contribute to the comments, answers questions, and they have gotten to know some of the more popular commenters well (more on this below).

Of course research on two-way communication is not new in the Communication and Public Relations fields, but many large organizations are still trying to figure this out. Blogs where the bloggers interact with their audience are much more engaging than those in which either (1) the blogger NEVER comments or acknowledges comments or (2) where the blogger is a high-profile public personality but the individual blogging or answering comments is clearly a random staffer, responding in obvious PR-speak.  The second situation might actually be worse, audiences can tell and it just seems insincere.  (Note: Ofcourse CEOs can’t be on their iphones answering comments but the way around this is to simply acknowledge up front that while the “name” is being used for the blog, staffers are handling the comments).

Tribes & community building:  To my knowledge there is not much scholarly research on the study of online communities and tribes–but see Norman (2012) for a rare example from hockey.This site would be good source material for an online ethnographic study of blog communities.  How do the social interactions between participants on the blog construct the blog as a social space?  At the rate that the Capital Weather Gang blog is developing, I’m guessing that it is possible that at some point it will move into IRL events such as happy hours or meetups. A rich subcommunity of ‘snowbros/gals’ , meteorologists, and yes, trolls, is developing. Commenters here have become fiercely protective of the bloggers and often go to great length to reprimand ‘drive-by’ commenters that drop in to sneer at “failed” weather forecasts. 

Gatekeeping: How central is gatekeeping to online communities? As the blog has developed “regulars” do they become the opinion leaders? Who starts being looked at as a defacto authority figure–is it a function of posting frequency, personality or technical knowledge?  Today some posters are even recognized by the Post’s meteorologists for the substantive contributions that they bring to the table. Nice cred! 

Technological Change: Nobody likes change, anyone that works in a large organization knows that when the IT folks introduce a new software platform everyone groans in dismay.  Sure enough, the Washington Post has recently introduced a new comment system and it’s been not been well received.  Discontent with this new commenting feature is currently playing out on the CWG blog oo.

But apart from all that academic stuff, the blog is really cutting edge–hell, bleeding edge. 

There’s NOTHING like it on the internet. This is a blog about WEATHER (and I’m saying that in a good way) yet it’s accessible,  impossibly fun but also educational–I never though I’d care or know what polar vertices, derechos, or domma storm patterns were.

I wish every city had one like this, these guys make meteorologists hip.  I would also say that technical bloggers in any practice could do well to study this blog and see how to talk to both a general audience, and a technical audience.

You can see a history of the CWG blog here .

Is Pinterest pointless?

The photo is a humorous take, but there’s some truth to it. At this time, Pinterest is dominated by wedding photos, womens fashion clippings, and sweet deserts. The improvements suggested here could improve it.

Is Pinterest pointless?  Not necessarily, although it certainly seems like that right now.  Right now for me it appears to be an aimless collection of photos, with a poor noise-to-signal ratio.  It could be more useful with some added functionality by Pinterest.  First of all they needed an app, but they just rolled one out yesterday so that’s good start.  The other two things I’d like them to do is to sort out the difference between likes and shares, to add private boards, and to enable a slideshow function.

Likes vs. Shares

What is the practical difference between a like and a share? I’ve seen explanations that likes are for storing photos that you don’t really have a board for.  But then why not just have a random board? And also, this means posters are notified twice, when you like their image, and then when you repin it.  If likes are seen as a draft board of sorts, then they should be no notifications attached to them (although they can be counted towards the photos stats) and also no need for them to be visible to the public.  Confusion is no good, you always want something as simple and straightforward as possible.

Private Boards

Come on Pinterest. Do it! I know platforms have to differentiate themselves and all, but there’s a big opportunity being missed here.   What if a company wants to tailor a board to a specific client list? Or one may be putting together a scrapbook for a babyshower, etc.  A good compromise might be to perhaps limit users to one or two private boards to test this out.  This way, Pinterests entire catalogue will not be hidden, and at the same time users can get some privacy.  Win-win.

Slideshow/Flipbook view

Again this is something that would also benefit businesses.  You can roll out a series of images instead of having to do a PowerPoint presentation for example.  For normal use, if one has a tablet they could do it such that you can maximize the photos and run through a board as if it’s your own custom made magazine, or scrapbook—they could even add the animated page turn.   Or these days HDTVs are starting to get apps.  Imagine a Pinterest app on your HDTV in which you can set images to flash on the screen in brilliant high-resolution.  This would be wonderful for boards based on travel places, architecture, etc.   Right now it’s a Web 2.0 software geared towards Web 1.0 devices and hardware.  Interactivity and syncing is a must in 2012.

There are other suggestions I have though I haven’t quite articulated them yet.  For example I think maybe something like mandatory descriptions and/or crediting of sources is something to look into. Also perhaps pinning an image through an image search galleries like ‘google images’ should be banned, as it increases the random/noise factor of Pinterest.  Let people pin from actual websites that they’re browsing—this will also help with some of the copyright worries that have come up.

What are your thoughts on the utility of Pinterest, and also on ways to improve it?

Is Pinterest for girls?

Interesting comment on Pinterest, by Social Media specialist Tish Grier on the usage of PInterest. She had a recent blog post on “Why Women Prefer PInterest” in which she wonders:

Yes, a girl.  Pinterest has the odd effect of bringing out the girly girl in me, and Ibet that it does for a lot of women.

Maybe that’s a reason, too, that we like it: Pinterest is a diversion from the workaday adult world into a world of fantasy and inspiration.  Depictions of the possible and the impossible that fuel our daydreams and night dreams too.  Pictures of stuff that we want to remember, for whatever reasons.  It isn’t about winning, or losing, or gathering important information for our professional enrichment (maybe that’s why infographics don’t get repinned as much as shirtless hunks.)

It’s just plain fun.

I really hadn’t thought of that, but just by eyeballing my PInterst I can see that she’s on to something.   But why wouldn’t what she describes also pull in men by pinning super models, or sports cars or our favorite athletes?

Personally I like PInterest. I see it as a nice visual scrapbook that gives you insight into the types of thoughts that fill someones mind, I’d describe Pinterest as “public daydreaming”. It might take a while for the general public though, I mean between Facebook and Twitter there’s only so much attention to go around.  I’m studying Social Media, and Ms. Grier is a Social Media specialist, so people like us have an incentive to stretch ourselves.  I’ve observed that my Facebook that are most the most active on PInterest are relatively inactive on Facebook itself.

It will be interesting to see whether Pinterest will continue to grow.  Will it get taken over by corporations (MySpace) or irrelevant (Hi5, Friendster) or top out at being just steady but simmering under the surface (Google+)?  Lastly, in ending her post, Ms. Grier asks whether Pinterst has any value as a social media marketing tool.  I’d add to that and ask whether in addition to commercial issues, there is potential for socio-cultural or political change via Pinterst. For example, if in fact Pinterest is women-centric, that might affect how Presidential campaigns utilize the platform.  Can Pinterest change the dynamic of International Relations like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have?

Twitter scuffle, Russia vs. USA: Is diplomacy 2.0 finally here?

Typically, state government involvement in Social Media has been either:

1. In the form of public diplomacy, with a state sponsoring or endorsing activities in which it’s citizens engage with those of others such as student exchanges.
2. Glorified news-feeds, with the “news blast” style of using twitter
OR
3. Governments co-opting social media to monitor and quell uprisings and activists (like Iran during the Green Revolution).

There’s very direct tit-for-tat engagement between official state players though, which for me is what piqued my interest reading the reuteurs release of diplomats going at it on twitter.  Shorter version; US Ambassador to Russia, Micahel McFaul, tweeted concern about the arrests of peaceful demonstrators, and the Russian Foreign ministry replied on twitter.  Seems mundane I know, and perhaps it’s because I’m not on twitter enough, but my sense is you don’t (yet) see this kind of engagement on social media between diplomats.

See the Reuters story here: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/06/us-russia-election-usa-idUSTRE82510Q20120306

Diasporas and their home governments: The case of Kenya

Disclaimer: I am not heavily involved in any diasporic or civic communities, observations here are anectodal. 

Over on ohh pete, Kenyan activist DJ blogger (check his bio) has a thought provoking article up, lamenting the state of relations between the Kenyan embassy in the United States and their US diaspora population. He categorizes the diaspora community into three blocks, – a traditional church and family community, social media, and the nightlife (i.e. party circuit).  His focus is on the latter two categories:

There are two forgotten shifts in the Kenyan Diaspora that represent majority of Kenyans in the USA. 2nd shift is the social media shift and 3rd shift is the nightlife shift. I have chosen to list 2nd and 3rd shift together because they usually share the same folks. Despite consisting of majority of the Kenyan Diaspora, most of the 2ndand 3rd shift folks barely know of any existence of the Kenyan Embassy save for what they read in the newspaper. When I say ‘barely know of’, what I mean is that the embassy plays almost no role in their life, and this is not by choice. As I mentioned above, the Kenyan embassy has been so traditional in its methodology of reaching out to the Kenyan Diaspora that they have a false sense of how many Diasporans they have access to. 2nd shift Diaspora Kenyans also tend to include majority of the students, most of whom flew to the US straight from home and enrolled in a local college in either a small or large town.

Definitely I agree with the virtual zero presence on social media–but in defense of the embassy, I’d say that this is a problem with many public institutions.  

Pete continues: 

The big question then is why the 2nd and 3rd shift diasporans do not join the 1st shift diasporans so as to keep abreast of community happenings? Well many of them will reply and tell you that they keep off because they have attended some meetings and felt unwelcome. “I would definitely love to go to a church mainly frequented by Kenyans in my city but how will I feel welcome if during and after the service they only speak in vernacular language? I only speak English and Swahili”, told me one young lady. Her sentiments were echoed by almost five other random Kenyans I asked and they felt the same about Diaspora organizations, though for the most part many of them had never heard of any Diaspora Kenyan organizations.

This is something I have definitely noticed in the Kenyan diaspora, there is a strong religious bent in Pete’s first scene, which lets face it, attracts a certain type of crowd, that is not necessarily representative of the overall demographic.  Nothing wrong with those that are religious, but it leaves out huge chunks of a population, many of them in his third circuit:

The 3rd shift hands down is the one shift that contains the greatest access the Kenyan Diaspora. The 3rd shifters go to school, they work, they live their separate lives, and many are church goers too (simply attend service and leave), but the strongest way they keep up with Kenyan tradition is through partying and nightlife activity. Unless you have been living under a rock, partying is tied into Kenyan culture. It is no secret that we enjoy getting our groove on and socializing. Kenyans are even known to make big business deals over a few cold ones at preferred locals. In the same way you could call on the embassy to embrace new technology and social media as a means of reaching the masses, they should have already by now embraced our affinity for social gatherings to get to the masses.

Ah, there’s a lot of insight that one can unpack from here.  I’ll just say that first, this and the 1st circuit are a totally different crowd in my experience.  In fact, many in the 1st circuit would probably feel (again intentionally or unintentionally) that they are “above” partying as described here.  Second, on the social media front,  I would not be surprised if it has the most disproportionate ratio of official staff per Kenyan expatriate population in the US.  That’s not hyperbole by the way, there’s A LOT of Kenyans in the USA. It could just simply be a lack of resources at the embassy.  One way around this is if there was network–and this may already exist–of what Malcom Gladwell calls connectors, or what is known in communication theory as opinion leaders.  That might be a more effective and manageable population to interact with and Pete does indeed emphasize on that point in his post.  However, it would need probably three or four more staff at the embassy tasked specifically with communication and social media strategies. I suspect the bodies simply aren’t there at this time.  Pete offers some advice: 

If there is to be effective outreach to the Kenyan Diaspora, the Kenyan government must have a system in place to reach all organs of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shifts of the global Kenyan Diaspora. These shifts exist all over the world. The whole talk of ‘We have a facebook page’ will not suffice. Many corporations and organizations create facebook pages to save face and act like they are adapting to social media but what good is the facebook page or twitter account if you do not know how to use it? Such social media mechanisms have to be managed professionally. Communications and interactions should be documented and feedback sought. It is the embassy’s responsibility to step out of the box to reach out and try to find out where Kenyans are, how they are living, where they socialize and network.

This is key, and his distinction between ‘being on social media’ and how you use social media is something I’ve wondered about too. Social media is about interaction, facebook is not just a bulletin board and twitter is not just a glorified news feeds, but that’s how many public institutions use them. 

My last comment Pete or others may not agree with, but I’d argue that this Kenyan diaspora–Embassy–Kenya Government interactions doesn’t even have to be politically oriented.  It will often be for sure, but it doesn’t have to be.  I know many Kenyans that are not particularly political people, but are still interested in pop culture in the country, or maybe they have a special talent, etc.  Such people dont’ have to be left out of networks–and actually probably many of them fall in Pete’s 3rd circuit.  

Anyway, the entire post is worth reading whether you’re Kenyan or not, if you’re interested in activism, diasporas or social media there’s a lot of value in that post.  Here’s a new facebook initiative that Pete’s started. Pete’s started: http://facebook.com/aktive254

 

 

 

Social Media Mayhem in Mexico

I was reading about “Development Communication” and something on “technology appropriation” caught my attention. Now this is a concept that is new to me, I had not ever read about that phrase or heard it like that really until a few days ago, so I’m not necessarily sure that this blog post is about “development communication” per se.  Anyway, the article was a paper called ‘We use it different, different’: Making sense of trends in mobile phone use in Ghana, which was published earlier this year in theNew Media & Society journal.

Early on, there ‘s a section in which she talks about ‘technology appropriation’ which the author (Araba Sey at the Annenberg School of Communication) offers as “the way that users evaluate and adopt, adapt and integrate a technology in their everyday practices”.   She writes about this concept in the context of discussing how technology can be an important asset to enhance ones ability to influence their environment.  She talks about adapting technology, technically or socially, to particular circumstances of one’s existence.   This reminded me of the fascinating situation in Mexico that is at once a good illustration of effects of technologies on improving society and quality of life, yet at the same time a little depressing.  The short version is that basically, initially, it was starting to look like finally, citizens could protect themselves, by collaborating to share safe-zones, hotspots, outing suspected gangsters, etc.  However, Mexican gangs are now hitting back in two ways–first by using infiltrators to themselves wreak havoc using social media, and also by doingthis:

Zetas’ latest victim, a man who moderated the Nuevo Laredo En Vivo whistle-blowing website, was found beheaded at a busy intersection with a nearby note reading, “This happened to me for not understanding that I shouldn’t report on the social networks.”

The blogger is the fourth citizen journalist in the last months to suffer the same fate as others reporting on Zetas’ activities. In September, the cartel posted similar signs next to two men’s bodies warning, “This is going to happen to all Internet snitches. Pay attention, I’m watching you.”

….another twist to this, is that public officials are lukewarm to the idea of use of social media as described.  They are paradoxically on the same side as the Gangs, as another blogger has put it:

Narco gangs see social media as a threat to their hold on power, while public officials complain the new technologies spread rumors. In fact, several Mexican states are considering laws criminalizing the sowing of “panic” on social networking sites.

This paradox endangers ordinary Mexicans who often cannot turn to the traditional media for information on which “no-go zones” to avoid to stay safe. In many parts of the country, especially in the north, media outlets have implemented a self-imposed blackout of coverage of drug violence.

The eerie irony here is that there is a general sense, albeit one that’s hard to conclusively prove, that law enforcement in Mexico is infiltrated. The livelihoods of many Mexicans are in danger of being negatively affected if access to social media becomes a no-go zone for ordinary folks. It’s rather a sad story.  Social media should develop communities, here it’s causing chaos.

Here is what the Mexican gangs are trying to fight, and what the Mexican authorities are trying to discourage:

Crossposted from a student blog that I’m on.

Public Diplomacy…2.0 or 1.x?

Disclaimer: My questions of Public Diplomacy in this blog post are within the context of use of New Media communication platforms.

One reason that I remain skeptical about use of Web 2.0 and new media by large organizations, is that I wonder how much actual interaction is going on versus how much of it is what I’ve seen referred to as a “glorified news feed”.  By that I mean, yes an organization has a facebook page, yes “they’re on twitter” and yes, they have a blog.  However, how much actual interaction is going on?  I’d posed a similar question as a comment on a blog post a few weeks ago that I read and I think someone from the state department said something to the effect of “they have people monitoring”.

Here are some twitter feeds by public organizations or state governments.  I’m not really seeing interaction (i.e. responses or retweets).  I picked random ones:  UNICEF , NATO , and Russia Ministry of Foreign Affairs  .

I’m not trying to be obtuse here, but I’m hoping to shed more light on this.  Now perhaps it is not appropriate or possible for an organization to be talking to random citizens in public because of messaging issues…..but if that’s the case, there shouldn’t be the self-congratulatory vibes off of having a twitter account or a YouTube channel.

In his speech on Public Diplomacy in 2008, then Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, James K. Glassman in arguing against Al-Qaeda quoted an analyst that said, “…If Web 1.0 was about creating the snazzziest official Web resources and Web 2.0 is about letting users run wild with self-created content and interactivity, Al Qaeda and it’s affiliates are stuck in 1.0″    But as I’m harping on ad infinitum here, I’m not really seeing ” users runnin gwild with self-created content and interactivity” with public institutions.  Perhaps calling use of new media as it exists is more appropriately charecterized as minor 1.x update rather than an entire 2.0 transformation since that aspect is lacking? To be fair, in some cases, like the State Department for example, they do have a blog and they actually allow commenting on it (I’m assuming comments are not censored other than for national security issues/secrets), though I don’t know if the comments are read–many high profile blogs are notorious for (ghost) authors that don’t read the feedback received.  Nonetheless, all of this might be an inherent dilemna faced by public institutions, and as social media expert Clay Shirky says in the recent article Innovating Public Diplomacy for a New Digital World, it is problematic to imagine use of social media platforms like say twitter, due to conflicts between the type of transparency expected of social media and the inherently secretive nuanced nature of international diplomacy.

This is not just an issue with public institutions by the way.  I’ve seen similar issues with large corporations in the private sector.  Or is my skepticism misdirected, and is it audiences/consumers or the technologies themselves that are the problems?

 —
crosspost from a student blog that I put up at http://ausis640.wordpress.com/ on 11/29/11.