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July 18, 2010

Digital Activism, Digital Diplomacy, Digital Chasms

I just finished readin the amazing NYT article, "Digital Diplomacy," by Jesse Lichtenstein. This article is important, not just because it shows the frontier of digital statecraft, but because it proves the importance of integrating social media into policy activism.

Perhaps this point is obvious to you. If you want to influence policy, you need to engage in debate on the interwebs, not just in face-to-face meetings with diplomats or in coalition meetings with like-minded organizations.

Lichtenstein does a great job of showing how State isn't fully equipped to handle the type of engagement created by Jared Cohen and Alec Ross. While she's quick to point out the ways digital media can enhance grassroots activism, and get the USG's positions out to the masses, she overlooks a key problem: like governments, most NGOs are not equipped to handle digital activism. If you've been involved in an organization that allows social media policy and practice to be handled solely by interns, then you understand what I mean.

I'm not trying to disparage interns. Indeed, they are essential to most nonprofits. But we've got to figure out a way to integrate these new communication channels into the lifeblood of our organizations.

I'm looking forward to working with others to fill the digital chasm that exists in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. If you've got ideas, please let me know. Because we're leaders in international peace and justice movement; and we provide the best reporting on gender and conflict and disarmament at the UN. But our social media strategy is in its infancy and our membership organization lacks a unified approached to digital activism.

Posted by cj at July 18, 2010 7:21 PM


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