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DiploNews – Issue 41 – 27 November 2001

DiploNews – Issue 41 – November 27, 2001

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Web-Management in Diplomacy – Organisation of Information on Websites

In February 2002 DiploProjects will host the Second International Conference on Web-Management in Diplomacy. Before the conference begins we wish to encourage interaction by introducing some of the main topics to be discussed.

The question of the most appropriate way to organise information on a website is becoming more important as governmental and international organisation websites become larger and more frequently accessed. Two main approaches are prevalent: presentation based on departmental structure of the organisation; and presentation based on topics of concern to the organisation. The OECD, for example, has recently shifted to topical organisation for their website. What are the advantages and limits of topical organisation? What types of institutions are best suited for this type of website? Guido Maccari, head of information technology and network services for the OECD, points out that "topical sites must be organised to evolve fast and are more tuned to address/anticipate readers' questions/concerns more effectively." Regarding the organisation of government websites, he writes "a main problem perhaps (especially for big countries) is how to make government agencies work together to manage a single/integrated block of subjects across agencies (of course, this is not only an Internet issue)…"

Thanks to Guido Maccari for bringing our attention to the new OECD website and for his comments on topical structure.

Please visit the new new OECD website.

For more information on the Second International Conference on Web-Management in Diplomacy please visit conference website.

Cartoons and Diplomacy

According to Miroljub Labus, chief Yugoslav negotiator in debt-reduction negotiations with the Paris club:

"When the Paris Club representatives offered their first proposal, which was not acceptable for us, we copied and distributed a Corax cartoon in which the lenders from the Paris Club are measuring how empty my and Dinkic's (governor of Central Bank) pockets are. This helped us a lot in the negotiations."

Language and Diplomacy – Naming the Terrorist Attacks

An October 3 article in the Wall Street Journal online "Classroom Edition" looks at a rarely considered aspect of the aftermath of the September 11 attacks: the struggle to find a single word or phrase to capture these unprecedented events. The general public, the media and politicians fluctuate among a variety of terms: the terrorist attacks, the attacks of September 11, the bombing, the events, the tragedy, the mass murder, the acts of war, etc. George Lakoff, a linguistics professor at Berkeley, says that this groping for an appropriate phrase is a part of the natural evolution of language; it happens every time a new event occurs in the world. Existing words or phrases have sets of associations: for example, “war” brings to mind “enemy”, “territory”, “battlefield” and “army”. Because this traditional structure of war is lacking for these events, we are not comfortable using the word “war” to describe them. Imbuing old words with new meanings is a common way to get around this problem: for example, the “troubles” in Ireland. Another solution is to use a metonym: a short hand way to refer to an entire sequence of events: for many people, “September 11” has become a metonym for the attacks.

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