Digital Diplomacy

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The State Department’s Jared Cohen and Alec Ross are today the subject of a juicy new profile (and an “Entourage”-style glamour shot) in the New York Times Magazine, on the topic of the U.S. push for “digital diplomacy.”

Traditional forms of diplomacy still dominate, but 21st-century statecraft is not mere corporate rebranding — swapping tweets for broadcasts. It represents a shift in form and in strategy — a way to amplify traditional diplomatic efforts, develop tech-based policy solutions and encourage cyberactivism. Diplomacy may now include such open-ended efforts as the short-message-service (S.M.S.) social-networking program the State Department set up in Pakistan last fall. “A lot of the 21st-century dynamics are less about, Do you comport politically along traditional liberal-conservative ideological lines?” Ross says. “Today it is — at least in the spaces we engage in — Is it open or is it closed?”

Early this year, Ross and Cohen helped prop open the State Department’s doors by bringing 10 leading figures of the tech and social-media worlds to Washington for a private dinner with Clinton and her senior staff. Among the guests were Eric Schmidt, the chief executive of Google; Jack Dorsey, co-founder and chairman of Twitter; James Eberhard of Mobile Accord; Shervin Pishevar of the mobile-phone-game-development company SGN; Jason Liebman of Howcast; Tiffany Shlain, founder of the Webby Awards; and Andrew Rasiej of Personal Democracy Forum, an annual conference on the intersection of politics and technology. Toward the end of the evening, Clinton delighted those assembled by inviting them to use her “as an app.”



  1. Liza says:

    Jared Cohen has made quite a name for himself at the State Department. I can’t help but wonder though if State wants FSO’s that are so active online, I just don’t know if it blends well with the type of person they want….

    The couple friends I have that are in the Foreign Service tweet and post on Facebook and I’ve always been alarmed at how candid they are… it doesn’t fit my perception of how a “diplomant” should act… just my two cents.

    great blog! just got the pak and am looking forward to getting started on the flashcards!

  2. Ashish says:

    It looks like these guys have made some mistakes in the past with their Twitter accounts…

    I’d rather FSO’s refrain from discussing their personal opinions, etc. on facebook, myspace, etc. It evokes a lack of discretion and unprofessionalism I fear is becoming increasingly common practice with many State Dept. employees.

  3. gill says:

    I think, it is great that our government is keeping up with the latest trends to spread our diplomacy. And, social-media is the best tool available out there, today!

  4. Samantha says:

    Too bad Jared Cohen left the State Dept. for Google, I could see a Secretary of State in the making…

    I’m thinking this is an ideal example of private companies stealing away talent that the public desperately needs… I can’t help but look down on the decision to leave… money isn’t everything!!!

  5. Genesis says:

    a la suite du chauffage du derme se produit (couche intermediaire de la peau) et de la graisse sous-cutanee.

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