Joho the Blog[pdf09] Alec Ross: 21st Century Statecraft - Joho the Blog

[pdf09] Alec Ross: 21st Century Statecraft

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

Alec Ross is the Innovation Advisor to Hillary Clinton. He’s bringing Net tools, esp. social media, to the State Dept. He begins by saying that alog of what we’re talking about today is power. E.g., the Roman Catholic Church held power because thye power over the texts. Gutenberg’s press shifted power to nation states. “That has held until now when it’s beginning to fray because of the power of our networks.” [BTW, I missed Randi Zuckerberg’s interview. Sorry.]

Diplomacy has largely been a matter of white guys in white shirts and red ties talking with other white guys in white shirts and red ties, he says. Now we need citizen engagement in foreign policy. Alec segments this into gov’t to people, people to people, and people to gov’t.

Gov’t to people: E.g., Obama’s video on the Iranian new year posted straight to the Net, for Iranians. E.g., Obama’s speech pushed onto mobile phones.

People to gov’t: “We’re now looking at the potential of people to push gov’ts.” Here the US gov ‘t may not be the primary actor. E.g., the Moldova “twitter rev.” E.g., the No Mas Farc movement (a Facebook action) that has no charismatic leader but that mobilized 10M to march. “If Paul Revere were a modern day citizen, he wouldn’t have ridden down Main St. He would have just tweeted. And we wouldn’t have known his name. Everyone in our society has the power to be a new Paul Revere.” How can we engage the American public move our foreign policy forward?

People to people statecraft. “We’re just beginning to experiment with this in the State Dept.” E.g., they were about to write a check for $110M for relief in NW Pakistan. A jr staff person suggested making an SMS shortcode that would send $5 to the UN PakistabnRelif agency. She had the idea on Thurs morning, Thurs afternoon Clinton heard about it [which probably means that Alec told her about it], and a few days later it was announced from the White House.

He says that Hillary Clinton has been pushing on this hard, and recognizes that it’s a messy space in which there’s need for room for failure.

Micah: How does this related to hard power?
AR: Over the past 8 yrs, defense has been far too much the way we engage around he world. We need to reaffirm the centrality of the other two pillars: development and diplomacy.

Q: What is the role of the US gov’t is supporting digital activists around the world?
AR: This admin recognizes there are digital activists. We can’t just thrust them into war zones. Sect’y Clinton is supporting grassroots civil society orgs around the world so that they can integrate digital tools into their work.
RF: Officials around the world are on Facebook, not always because they like openness, but because it lets people become fans.

Q: How do you weed out hate speech?
RF: Our terms of service pretty clearly define what hate speech is — it incites violence — and those groups come down pretty quickly as we hear of them. Controversial groups who are not inciting hate and bviolence are left up.

Q: To the extent that there are flashmobs, are there any that you need to be tapped down?
AR: We aren’t always going to agree with the actions that are taken. Sometimes our enemies are going to do things we don’t like. That’s what happens on a participatory, open network. [Tags: ]

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