petecranston   05 Oct 2012   E-Diplomacy

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'Facebook reach dips?' asked someone on one of my favourite e-campaigning email groups (great geeks and humble experts). Read "Broken on Purpose: Why Getting it Wrong Pays More Than Getting It Right", suggested a well-informed NGO communicator. It's a telling example of the risks that come with using publicly available social media platforms for organisational communication and Public Diplomacy. Understandably and inevitably, Facebook, which has finally reached its billionth user, is under increased pressure to generate profits since its stock issue so communicators exploiting that reach for their own purposes have to take what they are given. Except that nothing stands still on the web and I've heard evidence recently from people as far apart as Rome, Pretoria and Oxford that the key younger demograhic is swtiching to simpler tools like Whatsapp to keep in touch. 

The prolific @andreas212NYC continues to engage his growing number of Twitter followers with fascinating stories (at least to those of us following e-diplomacy trends) including research into the most popular e-diplomacy tools and a record by Antonio Deruda of Ambassador McFaul's recent Twitter Q&A on US-Russian relations. Another developing source of good material from the burgeoning Italian eDiplomacy scene is the blog from the Istituto Diplomatico. Meanwhile, the US State Department continues to push out the boundaries of what can be done using new digital tools, as in their recent experiment in using a Google Hangout for a Farsi conversation with anyone in Iran or elsewhere who wanted to engage with State. Note, for people who missed it, we in Diplo recently experimented with the Google Hangout + YouTube broadcast feature: well, we did have Vint Cerf engaging with one of our classroom groups onine, so it had to be special. 

And talking of Rome, this keyhole image of the Vatican dome is famous partly as the three States view: from Italy, through the lovely gardens of the Sovereign Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta and onto the Holy See. During a recent visit I was as interested in the astonishingly large scale of the order's global Humanitarian and Development work. They have a strong claim to be one of the oldest, continuing deveopment agencies since their first hospitals in Palestine pre-date the Crusades and since then they have continued their work, supported mainly by volunteer support and donations, into many of the less publicly fashionable places and causes across the world including, 'forgotten' deseases like leprosy and alzheimers.

Finally, brain food: Gerd Leonhard is one of the few people I follow who can genuinely claim to be a futurist. Here, recomended by @stephendale, is a typically mind-stretching, well researched perspective on digital convergence and the media


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