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Romina Florenci... (not verified) May 11, 2017

An honor Dear your development. It is true that data collection is the central theme of diplomatic inquiries, to collect serious and scientific statistics to develop objective reports. Algorithms and big data are often confronted with civil rights such as freedom of expression and data protection. There is the challenge, achieving security and respect for human rights simultaneously. Difficult task. A respectful greeting and a thousand thanks for the impeccable work.
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Stephanie Borg ... May 12, 2017

Very useful analysis on the impact of data, and on a topic that is already of strong relevance for diplomats and policymakers. With regards to new tools, I will draw a parallel with social media: initially, diplomats needed to warm up to the idea; today, it is no longer a matter of 'why', but 'how'. Since data tools are possibly more complex, is the ROI similarly high? And how can small states tap into this, given their very limited resources? Thank you!
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Jovan Kurbalija May 12, 2017

Romina, thank you for your kind words and focus on an interplay between algorithm and data. It is going to mark future developments. Could we expect 'algorithm diplomacy' or international discussion how specific algorithms affect human rights and public goods?
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Jovan Kurbalija May 12, 2017

Stephanie, it is a very good parallel between social media and data. I would argue that data will be even more important than social media. Social media affected public diplomacy. Data will affect diplomatic modus operandi. In particular, it will affect diplomatic reporting - one of the key working tools for diplomats. In addition, diplomats' use of social media has been uneasy cohabitation. Diplomacy requires a certain level of discretion - in particular, in dealing with delicate policy issues. Back to your parallel between social media and data.... we can expect similar transition with, I would say, bigger impact of data on diplomacy than it has been the case with social media.
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Ginger Paque May 12, 2017

Excellent ideas, Jovan, and interesting concepts, as always in your blog posts. How is this essentially any different, though, than the ideas presented by Toffler in 1990? Information (data) is power -- and power is the ultimate (diplomatic) tool. How does this fit into your strategy? Has anything really changed? On a less economic, but equally powerful level, we also talk about the shift -- especially in diplomacy -- of recognition of prestige/power from 'owning' information (the previous diplomatic power) to 'sharing' information (the new 'social media' paradigm). Would this be a 'spreading' (sowing), rather than a 'gathering' (harvesting) information model? This crop analogy is particularly apt in my mind, because I think we will ultimately shift back to a physical (rather than data) layer of economy -- hopefully before a catastrophe -- and I wonder if we watch the global transfer of oil, food, and products as carefully as we do the flow of information? We think we live in an online world. Someday it's going to hit: We still live in a physical world. We all still eat, and most of us, especially the global 'haves' count on food flows to eat. We need the flow of oil to run our physical world. We need flowing water. We need flows of clean air. Yes, I know, oil diplomacy, food diplomacy, water diplomacy, climate change diplomacy are working hard to address these particular flows. But do all of us think about the security of our other 'flows' as much as we worry about online data flows? Do we need a reality check before we fall over from hunger or thirst while sitting at our computers protecting our online information?
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Katharina Hone May 12, 2017

Thank you for a very timely and highly informative post. As I continue research into data and diplomacy, I cannot help but wonder about data in diplomatic reporting. (Big) data is still far away from replacing carefully crafted reports that rely on personal observations and personal contacts. However, I think we should start critical conversations about the limits of data in diplomatic reporting. How should qualitative and quantitative approaches be balanced? is it enough to add qualitative interpretation to big data results? To what extent should big data be guided by qualitative approaches? Each 'revolution' in Information and Communication Technology was encountered with high scepticism by diplomatic professionals. I suspect it's not gonna be different this time. But rather then thinking about 'the end of diplomacy as we know it' - we need to have more productive conversation.
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Jovan Kurbalija May 21, 2017

Ginger, it is a good reminder that there is a different type of 'flows'. We are STILL very physical. We live in physical space. We are defined by our physique. Geography is back. I guess it will remain this way. Although, some futurist argue that our future will be very dematerialised.
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Jovan Kurbalija May 21, 2017

Katharina, I agree that 'digital' discussion won't work: e.g. we cannot shape discussion in a dichotomy of end or survival of traditional diplomacy. Data will impact diplomacy in incremental and 'analogue' ways. Identifying these dynamics would be essential for future of data diplomacy.

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