‘Today’s State Department, as shaped by Secretary Clinton, … has created a better balance between the “Billiard Ball World” and the “Lego World”’, writes Andreas Sandre, the Washington based Italian diplomat who has carved out an influential curatorial role in e-diplomacy. As well as his prolific tweeting (@Andreas212NYC), Andreas blogs across a number of channels – including here (his most recent being Social media diplomacy: the rules of engagement). In two recent articles for Global Policy, Andreas reviewed Sec. Clinton’s era and what opportunities there are for Sec. Kerry. Andreas alerted us to the work he quotes, Princeton University’s Anne Marie Slaughter’s concept of a “Billiard Ball World” and a “Lego World”, recommended reading for all e-diplomats (indeed all diplomats), particularly because of the symbiotic relationship between social media and the new ‘broken apart’ state as it engages with multiple actors.
e-diplomacy is the new normal. Not in the sense, necessarily, that it is transforming diplomacy, but in the sense that those diplomats who integrate digital technology into all aspects of their work have an enormous advantage over others who don’t. There is a problem, however, in that policies and reward systems in many MFAs don’t enable or encourage diplomats to connect online. It’s good, therefore, to notice more and more enabling policy statements on social media, such as this from the EU and this Twitter policy from the Irish MFA. As Matt Moore writes, an empowering social media policy makes a huge difference. And along with the policies, there is a regular stream of ‘how-to’ guides: we particularly liked this Digital Engagement guide.
January is the time for crystal-ball gazing. IBM believes the digital divide will disappear in five years time while we’re told Development is going Digital. In case we’re feeling too optimistic, the BBC asks if Digital Addiction clinics will be big in 2013. And just as MFA’s learn how to use it, Facebook may already have peaked, and certainly seems to be losing ground among some youth. The US National Intelligence Council’s much meatier, broader assessment, looking out to 2030, is usefully summarised by Duncan Green: worth that cup of coffee. And for teatime, some stunning videos – Why Poverty – from STEPS, a global group, whose board includes Carne Ross, an ‘independent diplomat’, which has to be a new Lego world title.