E-learning is not new... It has been around as long--rather, longer than--computers. Lights and buzzers... "electronic learning" is not new. But there are some very new applications and resources.
E-voting and Internet voting are of course two different things: Internet voting is one form of e-voting. But even more important for e-participation is the point made in a previous comment by Uvais: Internet voting tools offer support to the whole voting process. The preparation and registration processes lay the foundation for the election. This can be a costly and complex procedure that may benefit from a well-designed Internet application that makes the process less expensive, more effective and inclusive, and very importantly, more transparent.
Despite the fact that there are thousands of applications available for PCs, diplomats (like most other people) tend to use only a very lilmited number of them (5-6?).
Stefano Baldi, Italian diplomat and one of pioneers in the field of e-diplomacy, selected a list of "Essential Tools" that he finds both simple to use and effective. We start this topic with Stefano's selection - originally posted on his diplomatic toolkit blog.
Consular departments take advantage of several e-tools to keep in touch with nationals overseas. Here are three recent trends in using e-tools for consular assistance and protection. (Links point to examples on the web)
Call centres: 24/7 call centres operate from the capital to respond to calls from nationals overseas during emergencies. Nationals are also encouraged to register online with the foreign ministry or the nearest mission. (See Australian DFAT’s Smartraveller website)
An experience recently reported by the NY Times shows what an interactive public diplomacy strategy should be about. Cultural diplomacy has been used as part of US strategy for public diplomacy in a project sponsored by the State Department called DanceMotion USA.
The involvement of the media in Public Diplomacy may take different shapes. One of them is known as diplomacy in the media. It happens when a State uses mass media channels to establish communication with other State as a way to move forward negotiations or gather support for agreements. It differs from regular public diplomacy strategies, because the aim of diplomacy in the media is not to subtly support the view of the world or the propaganda given State, but to directly send a message to the other party.
E-participation takes many forms, some in amazing quantities of transactions adding ease and speed to citizen and other services. That is quantity well-acheived through technology.
Enforcing visa regimes may not strictly fall under the mandate of the MFA. Nor is it a service directly provided to one's own nationals. However, it is one of the most popular functions routinely performed in embassies and consulates.
A link between e-participation (web) and foreign policy--that is significant! See Stephen Hale's Blog "The Web as a Foreign Policy Issue", which opines that one area of E-diplomacy is to examine how we can use the power and impact of the web to enhance diplomacy. Shane Dillon says that "it is of equal importance to examine how we define the web as a foreign policy issue in its own right".
Consular work, or the ‘Cinderella Service’, has traditionally been a relatively neglected area in most foreign ministries.
Recent trends have however reshaped the way foreign ministries think about this function which is sometimes considered mundane and routine. The new interest in consular issues is largely attributed to increased international travel, migration and integration in an increasingly borderless world.