I’m very happy to say that I’ve been granted a Franklin Fellowship to work with the US State Department for the next year. I’ll be working with the eDiplomacy group that is working on providing Web 2.0 platforms for internal use, with the semi-secret aim of nudging State from a need-to-know to a need-to-share culture. (This is not exactly how eDiplomacy explains its charter, but it’s how I understand it.)
Franklin Fellowships were established by the State Department in 2006 in order to bring in people from the private and non-profit sectors. I’m working as a volunteer, with my travel expenses covered in part by a grant from Craig Newmark, founder of CraigsList. (Thank you, Craig!) Because I’ll be on-site in DC only a few times a month, I’ll be able to continue as a senior researcher at the Berkman Center. (I’ve also begun doing some work for Harvard Law Library’s digital lab.)
I’ve already spent time with the group. They’re, well, wonderful. They’ve already delivered tools for knowledge sharing (e.g., Diplopedia) and for connecting expertise across every boundary (e.g., The Sounding Board), and they’ve got some very interesting projects in the works. These are dedicated State Dept. employees, some with considerable experience under their belts, who are on fire about the possibilities for making State smarter, more innovative and creative, more responsive, more engaged, and more human, but always within the proper security constraints. Fascinating fascinating.