Tuesday, March 16, 2010

ODG Launches Crowdsourcing Site

The OpenGov Diplomacy Group is proud to announce the launch of its first crowdsourcing site - http://publicdiplomacy.ideascale.com. The site encourages individuals from around the world to share their ideas on: "How the United States can advance its foreign policy objectives through smart power diplomacy."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Global Health in the Age of Social Media (Honorable Mention - CSIS Smart Global Health Essay Contest)

The OpenGov Diplomacy Group is pleased to announce that an essay written by its Executive Director, Michael Walsh, recently received an honorable mention in the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Smart Global Health Essay Contest.

The submission, "Global Health in the Age of Social Media," argues that the United States should extend its global influence by deliberately "filling the void that currently exists in the global community for accurate, timely, accessible, impactful information on global health issues."

In addition to his role at the OpenGov Diplomacy Group, Mr. Walsh also serves as a Project Director at Forum One Communications and the Chair of the Public Diplomacy Discussion Group at Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.

The full text of the article is posted below and featured on the CSIS Smart Global Health web site:

"Global Health in the Age of Social Media"

The field of digital communications is undergoing rapid change. From increased broadband penetration in the developed world to the proliferation of mobile technology in the developing world, more people in more places have Internet connectivity than ever before. With the emergence of Web 2.0 technologies (including social networking and software as a service computing), the entire global community also is becoming more interconnected. Government and nongovernment organizations are responding to these changes in technology, behavior, and cultural norms by embracing a more open, transparent, and participatory government.

The new mandate for open government is transforming how these organizations conduct basic functions, especially those related to public affairs, public policy, advocacy, and public diplomacy. In the long‐run, the countries that invest in trustworthy digital communications will project openness, spur innovation, and encourage value‐based discourse. This presents a strategic opportunity to radically alter how countries are perceived ‐ not only by their own citizens but also by the global community.

If the United States hopes to realize its full potential to be a thought leader in the world, it therefore must invest in projecting its influence through innovative digital communications platforms around topics that are globally relevant and universally valued, including global health. It can do so both in concert with global inter‐governmental and non‐governmental organizations, such as the World Health Organization, and on its own initiative under its own departments and agencies.

Either way, the United States can work to fill a void that currently exists in the global community for accurate, timely, accessible, impactful information on global health issues. Acting as a global service provider, the United States can emerge as the authority for global health information that is relevant to every single member of the global community – regardless of nationality.

To do so, the United States merely requires the will to seize upon this opportunity. As evidenced by innovative online projects by the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Agency for International Development, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the United States already possesses the expertise to leverage technology to radically change global discourse on global health issues.

The United States therefore must not miss the opportunity to be the voice behind the digital communications platforms that facilitate the sharing of knowledge, enable communities of practice, increase awareness for pressing global health issues, and generally improve the condition of individuals around the world.

In considering this opportunity, the United States cannot take for granted that others states and nonstate actors will fail to appreciate the unrealized demand for accurate, timely, accessible, impactful global health information. If the United States does not elect to make the investment, it is possible that other states will seize on the opportunity and meet this demand with their own digital communications platforms; thereby improving their standing in the global community through relatively inexpensive soft power tactics.

Soliciting Feedback on OpenGov Diplomacy

In recent weeks, the OpenGov Diplomacy Group has been reaching out to numerous public and private organizations to solicit feedback on “OpenGov Diplomacy.” Most of our conversations have centered on our position that the United States should prioritize the export of our open government best practices and technologies to other democracies around the world. We are happy to report that the feedback has been encouraging and largely positive. Our colleagues across the public and private sectors appear to support the notion that the export of open government represents a unique opportunity for our country to support strengthening democratic institutions around the world. There also appears to be widespread support for open and transparent approaches to foreign policy like this. The major concern seems to be how high a priority export of open government should be in the greater context of the United States foreign policy agenda. There also appears to be an issue with whether the U.S. should be engaged in exporting these technologies in government-government exchanges or providing them directly to foreign citizens. In responding to these concerns, we have promoted a middle ground approach. It is our position that U.S. foreign policy must represent the right balance between hard/soft power. We therefore do not argue that U.S. should assume a foreign policy platform based solely upon openness and transparency – although these principles should play an important role our foreign policy efforts. We also take the position that the focus of our open government exchange should be on like-minded democracies in the developed and developing world. We assume these countries would be receptive to publicly available open government resources.
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The Open Diplomacy Blog by Michael Walsh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at opendiplomacy.blogspot.com.