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Welcome to the Digital Diplomacy project, our online portal dedicated to digital diplomacy, e-diplomacy, and cyber diplomacy

'My God, this is the end of diplomacy!' - Reported reaction of Lord Palmerston, British Prime Minister, on receiving the first telegraph message in the 1860s

Digital diplomacy - which describes new methods and modes of conducting diplomacy with the help of the Internet and ICTs - is ever so important. In this space, we explore what digital diplomacy is, point you to a wealth of resources, and invite you to join our online training. Get in touch with our Digital Diplomacy team for any queries.

 

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What is Digital Diplomacy?



Digital diplomacy describes new methods and modes of conducting diplomacy with the help of the Internet and ICTs, and describes their impact on contemporary diplomatic practices. Related - and interchangeable - terms include cyber diplomacy, net diplomacy, and e-diplomacy.

Cumulatively, the Internet is having a profound effect on the two cornerstones of diplomacy: information and communication. Diplo's digital diplomacy taxonomy looks at three aspects of the interplay between Internet and diplomacy: Internet driven-changes in the environment in which diplomacy is conducted (geo-politics, geo-economics, sovereignty, interdependence); the emergence of new topics on diplomatic agendas (Internet governance, cybersecurity, privacy, and more); and use of a new Internet tools in the practice of diplomacy (social media, big data, and more). The taxonomy goes beyond the typical narrow focus on social media and public diplomacy in contemporary literature on digital diplomacy to cover the overall interplay between Internet and diplomacy.

Digital diplomacy describes new methods and modes of conducting diplomacy with the help of the Internet and ICTs, and describes their impact on contemporary diplomatic practices. Related - and interchangeable - terms include cyber diplomacy, net diplomacy, and e-diplomacy.

Cumulatively, the Internet is having a profound effect on the two cornerstones of diplomacy: information and communication. Diplo's digital diplomacy taxonomy looks at three aspects of the interplay between Internet and diplomacy: Internet driven-changes in the environment in which diplomacy is conducted (geo-politics, geo-economics, sovereignty, interdependence); the emergence of new topics on diplomatic agendas (Internet governance, cybersecurity, privacy, and more); and use of a new Internet tools in the practice of diplomacy (social media, big data, and more). The taxonomy goes beyond the typical narrow focus on social media and public diplomacy in contemporary literature on digital diplomacy to cover the overall interplay between Internet and diplomacy.

The challenge

The Internet has become central to public and private communication while contemporary tools, including social media, have brought millions into open, peer-to-peer conversation spaces. This provides enormous opportunities and challenges for states and international organisations as they seek to engage with new policy spaces developing around the Internet. E-diplomacy, for states and international organisations, requires a new set of skills, organisational changes, and innovative ways of approaching global policy.

The solution

Diplo provides solutions for two main aspects of e-diplomacy. First, Diplo offers complete support for conceptualising and deploying e-participation in international meetings. This includes strategic planning for remote hubs and workshops, guidelines for meeting organisers, integration of social media tools, and training of moderators.

Second, Diplo provides capacity development for the use of social media in diplomatic services and international organisations. It starts with an assessemnt of the specific organisational and communication needs and requirements of the organisation in question. The programme includes one-day intensive training in social media, followed by one-month intensive online coaching, and around one-year of ongoing assistance for the integration of social media. The summary of the programme is available here.

Digital, cyber, net, virtual, or e-?



Many of us may be confused with interchengable use of prefixes cyber, digital, net and e-. While we can agree that all prefixes describe an impact of the Internet on diplomacy, there is much less understanding about exact aspect of this impact.

Each prefixes describes various Internet developments. The etymology of ‘cyber’ goes back to the Ancient Greek meaning of ‘governing’. Cyber came to our time via Norbert Weiner’s book Cybernetics, dealing with
information-driven governance. In 1984, William Gibson coined the word cyberspace in the science-fiction novel Neuromancer. The growth in the use of the prefix ‘cyber’ followed the growth of the Internet, and in the  late 1990s, almost anything related to the Internet was ‘cyber’: cyberlaw, cybercrime, cyberculture... In the early 2000s, cyber gradually disappeared from wider use, only remaining alive in security terminology.

‘E’ is the abbreviation for ‘electronic’. It got its first and most important use through e-commerce, as a description of the early commercialisation of the Internet. In the EU’s Lisbon Agenda (2000), e- was the most frequently used prefix. E- was also the main prefix in the WSIS declarations (Geneva 2003; Tunis 2005). The WSIS follow-up implementation is centred on action lines including e-government, e-business, e-learning, e-health, e-employment, e-agriculture, and e-science. Nonetheless, e- is not as present as it used to be. Even the EU has abandoned e- recently, trying, most likely, to distance itself from the failure of the its Lisbon Agenda.

Many of us may be confused with interchengable use of prefixes cyber, digital, net and e-. While we can agree that all prefixes describe an impact of the Internet on diplomacy, there is much less understanding about exact aspect of this impact.

Each prefixes describes various Internet developments. The etymology of ‘cyber’ goes back to the Ancient Greek meaning of ‘governing’. Cyber came to our time via Norbert Weiner’s book Cybernetics, dealing with
information-driven governance. In 1984, William Gibson coined the word cyberspace in the science-fiction novel Neuromancer. The growth in the use of the prefix ‘cyber’ followed the growth of the Internet, and in the  late 1990s, almost anything related to the Internet was ‘cyber’: cyberlaw, cybercrime, cyberculture... In the early 2000s, cyber gradually disappeared from wider use, only remaining alive in security terminology.

‘E’ is the abbreviation for ‘electronic’. It got its first and most important use through e-commerce, as a description of the early commercialisation of the Internet. In the EU’s Lisbon Agenda (2000), e- was the most frequently used prefix. E- was also the main prefix in the WSIS declarations (Geneva 2003; Tunis 2005). The WSIS follow-up implementation is centred on action lines including e-government, e-business, e-learning, e-health, e-employment, e-agriculture, and e-science. Nonetheless, e- is not as present as it used to be. Even the EU has abandoned e- recently, trying, most likely, to distance itself from the failure of the its Lisbon Agenda.

Digital refers to ‘1’ and ‘0’ – two digits which are the basis of whole Internet world. In the past, digital was used mainly in development circles to represent the digital divide. During the last few years, digital has started
conquering Internet linguistic space. When European Commission president Juncker presented his five-year policy plan, he used the ‘digital’ prefix 10 times in his speech at the European Parliament. In addition to the EU, Great Britain now has has digital diplomacy.

Virtual relates to the intangible nature of the Internet, and introduces the ambiguity of being both intangible and, potentially, non-existent. Virtual reality could be both an intangible reality, (something that cannot be touched) and a reality that does not exist (a false reality). Academics and Internet pioneers used virtual to highlight the novelty of the Internet, and the emergence of ‘a brave new world’. Virtual, because of its ambigious meaning, rarely appears in policy language and international documents.

Today, there is truce in the war for prefix dominance. Cyber preserves its dominance in security matters. E- is still the preferred prefix for business. Digital has evolved from development issue use to wider use by the government sector. Virtual has been virtually abandoned. In this space, digital diplomacy and e-diplomacy are used interchangeably.

(Source: An Introduction to Internet Governance, Dr Jovan Kurbalija | DiploFoundation, 6th edition. Read also: Different prefixes, same meaning: cyber, digital, net, online, virtual, e-)

E-tools in digital diplomacy



The concept of social networks needs no introduction, since they are now part of our everyday lives. Twitter and Facebook are currently the most popular e-tools used by foreign ministries around the world. These two networks are particularly good examples of integrated platforms, because they can be linked to one another, driving traffic from one platform to the other.

Twitter allows the user to sound the opinions of the community on various issues, engage in discussions with others to present and explain own positions, and identify articles and readings on particular topics of interest (through following posts tagged with ‘hashtags,’ for example #ediplomacy). Italian diplomat Andreas Sandre’s Twitter for Diplomats (2013) is a very useful resource on Twitter specific to this professional field.

Previously used mainly to connect with friends and share updates (statements, feelings, photos, event invitations, music, interesting readings and links, etc.), Facebook is increasingly used for professional outreach as well. By creating institutional or public personal profiles, pages, interest groups, or events, an organisation can gather a community interested in their work, curate content, and engage efficiently with the community and the public.

Other platforms include YouTube, FlickR, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram. While the above refers to social media, there are then other e-tools which are important for public diplomacy. These include blogs, which are immensely popular, and wikis, which are nowadays more frequently used for internal purposes, such as knowledge management.

The infographic on the right summarises current findings related to foreign ministries from DiploFoundation’s ongoing study of e-diplomacy trends, and reveals interesting tendencies. (Learn more about the infographic)

The concept of social networks needs no introduction, since they are now part of our everyday lives. Twitter and Facebook are currently the most popular e-tools used by foreign ministries around the world. These two networks are particularly good examples of integrated platforms, because they can be linked to one another, driving traffic from one platform to the other.

Twitter allows the user to sound the opinions of the community on various issues, engage in discussions with others to present and explain own positions, and identify articles and readings on particular topics of interest (through following posts tagged with ‘hashtags,’ for example #ediplomacy). Italian diplomat Andreas Sandre’s Twitter for Diplomats (2013) is a very useful resource on Twitter specific to this professional field.

Previously used mainly to connect with friends and share updates (statements, feelings, photos, event invitations, music, interesting readings and links, etc.), Facebook is increasingly used for professional outreach as well. By creating institutional or public personal profiles, pages, interest groups, or events, an organisation can gather a community interested in their work, curate content, and engage efficiently with the community and the public.

Other platforms include YouTube, FlickR, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram. While the above refers to social media, there are then other e-tools which are important for public diplomacy. These include blogs, which are immensely popular, and wikis, which are nowadays more frequently used for internal purposes, such as knowledge management.

The infographic on the right summarises current findings related to foreign ministries from DiploFoundation’s ongoing study of e-diplomacy trends, and reveals interesting tendencies. (Learn more about the infographic)

The 5 Core e-Competences



The specific value of e-tools lies in a set of core skills - the 5 Core e-Competences (5Cs) - which diplomats need to harness:

  1. Curate: Listening is the first step. It is done by curating information and knowledge.
  2. Collaborate: While you curate, you gradually start collaborating both within your organisation and with outside communities. You start developing your community by sharing resources, asking questions, etc.
  3. Communicate: It is time to start communicating. This skills represents the ability and knowledge to extend your outreach and visibility.
  4. Create: After curating, collaborating and communicating, you are much more comfortable in social media. You have a solid following. It is time to focus more on creating your online content.
  5. Critique: By now you should have gained more social visibility. This also exposes you to more critical comments and discussion. You need to engage in critical discussions and learn how to manage criticism.

In the context of digital diplomacy, these competences represent the skills and knowledge needed by professionals to perform optimally in the digital world. Effective social media campaigns are also based on these core skills.

The specific value of e-tools lies in a set of core skills - the 5 Core e-Competences (5Cs) - which diplomats need to harness:

  1. Curate: Listening is the first step. It is done by curating information and knowledge.
  2. Collaborate: While you curate, you gradually start collaborating both within your organisation and with outside communities. You start developing your community by sharing resources, asking questions, etc.
  3. Communicate: It is time to start communicating. This skills represents the ability and knowledge to extend your outreach and visibility.
  4. Create: After curating, collaborating and communicating, you are much more comfortable in social media. You have a solid following. It is time to focus more on creating your online content.
  5. Critique: By now you should have gained more social visibility. This also exposes you to more critical comments and discussion. You need to engage in critical discussions and learn how to manage criticism.

In the context of digital diplomacy, these competences represent the skills and knowledge needed by professionals to perform optimally in the digital world. Effective social media campaigns are also based on these core skills.

The theory of time



As with many other skills, developing competencies in digital diplomacy requires time. On social media, we estimate that a practitioner requires:

  • One day to get acquainted with the e-tools for digital diplomacy
  • One month to become a good e-listener, and to actively follow the core resources
  • One year to become an active e-diplomat, ie, to contribute and develop a stable following

The timeframes are not necessarily literal, but are meant to demonstrate the ration and proportion of time needed for the e-diplomat to acquire and employ the core e-competences.

Would you like to learn more? Join our 10-week E-diplomacy online course

As with many other skills, developing competencies in digital diplomacy requires time. On social media, we estimate that a practitioner requires:

  • One day to get acquainted with the e-tools for digital diplomacy
  • One month to become a good e-listener, and to actively follow the core resources
  • One year to become an active e-diplomat, ie, to contribute and develop a stable following

The timeframes are not necessarily literal, but are meant to demonstrate the ration and proportion of time needed for the e-diplomat to acquire and employ the core e-competences.

Would you like to learn more? Join our 10-week E-diplomacy online course

Training



E-Diplomacy

Start Date: 8 May 2017

Master in Contemporary Diplomacy

Start Date: 1 February 2018

Events




Multimedia



Photos

Illustrations

20+ years of e-diplomacy



Back in 1992, there were two early e-diplomacy developments. In Rio de Janeiro at the Earth Summit, civil society activists used for the first time e-mail and mailing lists tor coordinate their position in lobbying and negotiations. At the same time, in Malta, the first Unit for Computer Applications in Diplomacy was established at the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies. The Unit later evolved into DiploFoundation which over the last 20+ years has conducted research and trained thousands of diplomats on the way how computers and the Internet impact diplomacy.

A quick summary of 20+ years of e-diplomacy would include the introduction of e-mail, the use of websites by diplomatic services and international organizations, the arrival of computers in conference rooms with the introduction of notebooks and wi-fi and, most recently, intensive use of social media such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter. The introduction of each new e-tool challenged the way things were done traditionally and opened new opportunities for diplomats and diplomacy.

Back in 1992, there were two early e-diplomacy developments. In Rio de Janeiro at the Earth Summit, civil society activists used for the first time e-mail and mailing lists tor coordinate their position in lobbying and negotiations. At the same time, in Malta, the first Unit for Computer Applications in Diplomacy was established at the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies. The Unit later evolved into DiploFoundation which over the last 20+ years has conducted research and trained thousands of diplomats on the way how computers and the Internet impact diplomacy.

A quick summary of 20+ years of e-diplomacy would include the introduction of e-mail, the use of websites by diplomatic services and international organizations, the arrival of computers in conference rooms with the introduction of notebooks and wi-fi and, most recently, intensive use of social media such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter. The introduction of each new e-tool challenged the way things were done traditionally and opened new opportunities for diplomats and diplomacy.

In 2010, Diplo launched the 2010 E-diplomacy Initiative, consisting of awareness building/launch events in the main diplomatic centres and an International Conference on E-diplomacy (Malta, 3-4 June 2010). The initiative created momentum for courses, research and community discussion on e-diplomacy. Many of the issues discussed during the events and conference (social media, security, openness vs discretion in diplomacy) became quite topical during the public discussion on Wikileaks and diplomacy.

Here is the list of events in chronological sequence:

  • 14 April 2010: Brussels event at the Permanent Mission of Malta to the European Union (more info)
  • 26 April 2010: Washington event at the AT&T Creative Lab (more info)
  • 27 April 2010: New York at the United Nations HQ in New York (more info)
  • 19 May 2010: Geneva event at the World Metheorological Organiaiton (more info)
  • 25 Mary 2010: Vienna event at the Vienna Diplomatic Academy (more info)
  • 13-14 June 2010: International Conference on E-diplomacy in Malta (more info)

The year 2012 marked Diplo's 20 years in E-diplomacy. The E-diplomacy initiative expanded to include:

  • Online courses and webinars on e-diplomacy
  • An International Conference on Innovations in Diplomacy in Malta (November 2012)
  • E-diplomacy Days (roundtables, awareness building sessions, roundatables) organised in the main diplomatic centers (e.g. Rome, New York, Geneva, Vienna, Roma, and Brussels)

The initiative is organised in a partnership of governments, international organizations, academia and civil society.

Latest research



Digital diplomacy in Asia-Europe relations

Asia and Europe account for more than two billion Internet users, which translates into two-thirds of the global user base. From Harmonising Cyberpolicies to Promoting Twiplomacy: How Diplomacy Can Strengthen Asia-Europe’s Digital Connectivity, written by Dr Jovan Kurbalija for the ASEF Outlook Report 2016/2017, analyses the digital connectivity between Asia and Europe from a diplomatic perspective.

 

Digital diplomacy in Asia-Europe relations

Asia and Europe account for more than two billion Internet users, which translates into two-thirds of the global user base. From Harmonising Cyberpolicies to Promoting Twiplomacy: How Diplomacy Can Strengthen Asia-Europe’s Digital Connectivity, written by Dr Jovan Kurbalija for the ASEF Outlook Report 2016/2017, analyses the digital connectivity between Asia and Europe from a diplomatic perspective.

 

The E-diplomacy series



The E-diplomacy series of illustrations - a concept of the Digital Diplomacy team, designed by Diplo's CreativeLab - highlights the impact of e-diplomacy on various diplomatic functions. The Internet has affected the way we curate information, the tools we use to communicate, the speed at which we communicate, and the formality of communications - among many other aspects. View our gallery for more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The E-diplomacy series of illustrations - a concept of the Digital Diplomacy team, designed by Diplo's CreativeLab - highlights the impact of e-diplomacy on various diplomatic functions. The Internet has affected the way we curate information, the tools we use to communicate, the speed at which we communicate, and the formality of communications - among many other aspects. View our gallery for more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet also our e-diplomat, Ana Gabel, an environment diplomat. Ana represents the modern e-diplomat, and uses e-tools for an agile approach to her work at the ministry. Ana comes alive in Diplo's A Day in the Life of an E-diplomat series, which illustrate how diplomacy can be improved through the use of modern tools and approaches.

 

Quick Diplomatic Response

Ana is sent to an urgent emergency team meeting to deal with an oil spill in the region. Fast action and efficient management are necessary to minimise environmental change. Read the story; the illustrations are also available on our gallery.

Knowledge Management in Action

Ana's work involves environmental emergencies. In another urgent task, she uses knowledge management in her work at the Ministry. View the illustration on our gallery.

What's next?



Our Digital Diplomacy project addresses the impact of the Internet on diplomacy through research, courses (online and in situ), policy discussions and publications. We invite you to join us:

Our Digital Diplomacy project addresses the impact of the Internet on diplomacy through research, courses (online and in situ), policy discussions and publications. We invite you to join us:

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