About the Author: Luke Forgerson serves as DipNote's Managing Editor.
Under Secretary Judith McHale recently convened a series of discussions and asked State Department colleagues to move public diplomacy forward in innovative ways. These discussions focused on several activities, including everything from student exchanges to English-language teaching programs.
I had the opportunity to step away from my day-to-day tasks associated with DipNote and join a dozen colleagues to consider how the State Department is using new media and technology to engage the public. We addressed the Department's current new media efforts (last week, mashable.com examined the same topic) and brainstormed ways we can effectively leverage new tools and technologies. We looked at online communication trends with distinguished experts, many of whom graciously joined us on short notice via conference call or Skype. Finally, we listened to and learned from each other, as colleagues shared the work they are doing from Korea to Libya, Argentina to Canada. I certainly left the session inspired by my colleagues, and suspect I wasn't alone in my sentiment.
Under Secretary McHale spent an hour with us at the end of our group discussion to listen to our ideas. We were all extremely encouraged to have the Under Secretary seek our input.
Engaging the public -- going beyond government to government communication -- has long held a place in American diplomacy, from the Marshall Plan following World War II to sports exchanges during the Cold War. Today, new tools and technologies enable us to reach more people, more quickly, more directly, than ever before, and activity in the online world is already having a tangible impact on foreign policy priorities.
New tools also allow more people to communicate with us and connect with each other directly. You can send a tweet to Assistant Secretary P.J. Crowley or participate in a video conversation with senior officials, such as Ambassador Holbrooke. Exchange program alumni are building an online community through ExchangesConnect, individuals around the world are discussing democracy on YouTube, and millions of you supported Red Cross relief efforts by texting"Haiti" to "90999."
Given these examples, how would you use new media tools to engage the public on critical foreign policy topics and global issues? Let us know your ideas, and we look forward to sharing them with State Department colleagues and leadership.
The new media discussion group included Andrew Cedar, Katie Dowd, Luke Forgerson, Suzanne Hall, Darren Krape, Duncan MacInnes, Bill May, Cash McCracken, Molly Moran, Lawrence Randolph, Victor Riche, Aaron Tarver, Erica Thibault, Scott Weinhold, and Norma Williamson.