DipNote Turns Three

Posted by Luke Forgerson
September 26, 2010
Keyboard of a Computer

About the Author: Luke Forgerson serves as DipNote's Managing Editor.

While I was completing errands this morning, I ran into one of DipNote's founders outside a coffee shop in my neighborhood. Our unexpected meeting seemed fitting, as DipNote turns three today. As we spoke briefly, I had an opportunity to bring him up to speed on DipNote's latest developments and reflect on what we have achieved.

This past year ushered in a blog redesign and expanded coverage of a range of foreign policy topics, particularly Secretary Clinton's overseas travel, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, and global women's issues.

Almost 30 million total page views after its launch, DipNote embraces the practices of 21st Century Statecraft: to educate, listen, learn and engage in this increasingly interconnected world.

One of the things that I have been most pleased to see is a dedicated and informed community developing around the blog. I have been encouraged to watch individual readers all around the world -- separated by geography, language, culture, and religion -- join together in conversation.

I'd like to take this moment to thank all of our readers for their support and feedback. The DipNote community has helped us apply lessons learned when branching out to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, iTunes, and other platforms. I invite DipNote readers to join these communities, and also check out DipNote for the iPhone and Blackberry.

We continue to learn from our community and take readers' input into account when introducing new features. Recently, we launched a "Photo of the Week" feature. Tomorrow, we'll introduce weekly synopses of DipNote's content. We hope these entries will make it easier for readers to stay up to date on all the many issues on which the State Department engages.

DipNote could not have achieved what it has to date without the ongoing commitment of our State Department colleagues. I am always grateful to our State Department co-workers who share their observations with DipNote's readers.

On behalf of the combined technical and editorial team at DipNote -- Daniel Schaub, Tamika Johnson, Eric Jones, Jeff Jackson, Sarah Goldfarb, and Ruth Bennett -- thank you, and we look forward to another year!



Hilal K.
September 26, 2010

Hilal K. in Turkey writes:

Thank you all and happy 3th years. I'm really looking forward to see and read new posts...Its very good that your posts are not too long and boring.. Thanks for the objectivity you kept all the time and being informative....

DipNote Blogger Luke Forgerson writes:

@ Hilal K. -- Thank you for your well wishes and feedback. We are glad to hear that you enjoy reading DipNote!

New York, USA
September 26, 2010

Ron in New York writes:

Happy 3rd to Dip-Noters....

3rd year has been much more....

More topics...some really fluffy; like the fish-art piece.

More pre-packaged...like the feel-good visits with smiling children.

More difficult to square with the realities pressing the world's poor.

Dip-Note 4th?....More interactive....More responsive....more blogs....more substance.


DipNote Blogger Luke Forgerson writes:

@ Ron in New York -- Thank you for being a thoughtful and loyal contributor to the DipNote community. We appreciate your feedback, and are working to make DipNote's fourth year its best yet. Keep reading!

New Mexico, USA
September 26, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Hi Luke,

Happy b-day to the blog!

3 years? Feels like ten, been hanging out so long I'm begining to feel like part of the furniture. (chuckle).

You know after all this time, I'm still wondering who really reads these comments.

30 million page views eh?

I figure that establishes the blog's reason for existance, but it's less than 10% of the US population and a small fraction of the world's.

Fact is no one in my city has ever heard of Dipnote before I'd mentioned its existance to them in conversation, so the key to greater outreach is in creating public awareness that yes indeed the US government is interactive.

It would stand to reason that evey senator and congressman who welcomes comments from their constituents would be happy to include a link to Dipnote on their official sites, and that in order to promote interactive government via greater public awareness of this portal to foreign affairs, it might be possible to create a PSA (public service announcement), to be aired on popular media.

Interviews by the press, and I guess you'll have to envision this for yourself, but I could very well see you fielding a question from Jay Leno about the content of some of the public comments you get that can't be published on this blog.

But seriously, if this is a "public service" in creating a real-time interactive government, then let's not be be shy in telling the world about it.

The other thing that will guarrantee public interaction is proof that our interaction with the US gov. and State Dept has in fact made a difference in policy review processes, and inspired thinking among policy makers.

Like the former US Ambassador to Cambodia who asked us what the US should do with the debt they owed the US from long ago, who then thanked me for my creative resolution to it, by restructuring the debt, investing the principal again, doubling down as it were in their rice production capability (which the Cambodians were keenly wanting to do), and letting them pay off the total investment and debt, in rice supplied to NGO's that we already supply food aid to for distribution, since we are going to be spending money on that anyway.

This allows the Cambodian government not to have to view the payment of their former government's debt to us as a political issue of contention because they don't make payment to the US directly, but help us help feed the world in the process of paying their debt.

And if it did indeed as the Ambassador said, "get everyone thinking" where has that idea gone today?

What has that thinking morphed into as I have noted a greater emphasis on sustainable agriculture and food security initiatives globally, "Feed the future" included.

Most of us go about our lives just trying to change our immediate circumstance and better the local environment we call home, let alone try and change circumstances for billions of people.

Fact is Luke, most of the people I know (even if they arn't thinking I'm crazy for even trying to make a difference), think I have about as much of a chance as a snowball in hell...on a fool's errand as it were.

You would be one to know if this blog had made that kind of difference or not from the archives of public discourse.

It would be nice to see tangible proof of the results of inspiring people to think.

If that's the job description of being a well informed citizen is, it's only natural to want to get some kind of detailed performance evaluation on occasion...(chuckle).

I've had folks commenting on this blog tell me I'm wasting my time here thinking this opportunity to make a difference doesn't exist, that no one really cares what the public thinks, and that this is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Ok then, let's give the sceptics something to consider, shall we?

It's not about me, it's about the credibility of this blog and it's value to society as a whole, not just to the US government.

Put "Conversations with America" on VOA and see where it leads.

You may get a hundred million page views by your next b-day party.

Especially if folks know they can make a difference, not just voice an opinion.

"The future's uncertain and the end is always near." as the song goes, and this may very well be one of the last posts I am able by circumstance to post here.

That is unfortunate, but I'd like to think my time spent here wasn't wasted as some have claimed it to be.

Good luck, and best wishes to everyone I've gotten to know, John in Greece, OC, Flavius, Zharkov, Donald in Virginia, and all the many folks from around the world that I've had the pleasure to debate issues with in good will and good humor on this blog.

Take care,


DipNote Blogger Luke Forgerson writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico -- Thanks for your well wishes! The world can always use one more person trying to make a difference, and I sense that the DipNote community would agree that participating in discussion on civic matters is an important part of that process. One of the DipNote teams' key goals is to provide a space for thoughtful discourse on foreign policy issues.

We have valued your feedback and all of our readers' input over the last few years. As we move forward this year, we will be looking at ways to highlight readers' contributions more often. I thank you for your dedication to DipNote.

New York, USA
September 26, 2010

Ron in New York writes:

Dear Luke Dip-Walker:

You are welcome...as a big dipper; I enjoy the opportunity to keep current on the doings at state and my brain gets good excercize in coming up with policy and program ideas and responses.

Donald M.
Virginia, USA
September 26, 2010

Donald M. in Virginia writes:


Congratulations to the entire staff at the State Department, we can appreciate a voice, offer ideas, and yes battle it out but do it tactfully without starting world war 3. I'm very much pleased how this site turned out over the years. God knows we have had some really cool ideas, shared our thoughts and yes battled our wits, Conquer and divide but in the end were all one happy contributor, a well done to all the Authors and messages that we do comment on. I never think to include the work they do, and today after 3 years, "BRAVO ZULU" to the State Department Staff for making this all happen. I know some of my own comments can rattle some snakes up a tree, but thats life. I think were all one big family on here. Including all the BLOGGERS!!! I still think the State Department should come out with a coffee or mugs so we can show them off to our friends. It might add future Bloggers. Maybe a catch phrase, enjoy the State Department Blog and enjoy a fresh cup of Java! Having the Java logo on the header.

DipNote Blogger Luke Forgerson writes:

@ Donald M. in Virginia -- Thanks for your birthday wishes and kind words. We are glad you are a part of the DipNote community, and appreciate your suggestions!

United States
September 27, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

Happy Birthday Dipnote. We need to get more bloggers to come to your party! Let's go party crash the BBC.

DipNote Blogger Luke Forgerson writes:

@ O.C. -- Thanks for the birthday wishes! We appreciate you being a part of the conversation on DipNote!

September 27, 2010

Adam in Israel writes:

It makes me really proud to see the State Department taking an active role in blogging. I continually find this site useful & informative!

Thank you for all you do!

DipNote Blogger Luke Forgerson writes:

@ Adam in Israel -- Thanks for your kind message and feedback! We appreciate you being a part of the DipNote community.

New Mexico, USA
September 28, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:


I appreciate your response and the focus of the staff, but it didn't really answer my questions.

See, I figure my government knows whether it's taken ideas off this blog and put them into practical application or not, adapted as policy dictates.

In general terms I think folks on staff have a pretty good idea who reads these comments, and I'm not asking for anyone to name names, (to protect the guilty..chuckle). I was just trying to get a general idea of the blog's outreach across the international political spectrum.

It would be nice to be enlightened as to what effect if any beyond simply being a collective pool of public opinion, has the blog had on the thinking of policy makers, and what specific areas it has effect upon.

It's really simple, you've made an investment in the opportunity afforded the public and the public has invested its time to further this great social experiment, and I think everyone here contributing would very much like to know if our effort is producing results?

If it wasn't, I don't think the US government would be continuing the experiment and creating an institution out of it.

Locical, Que no?

As a member of the public, I do think I have a pretty good idea what will motivate expanded public participation on this blog, and I want this to be a "game changing" blog, for the good of humanity.

Luke, seriously... if you folks at State ever need a fresh face on a citizen's advisory committee on public diplomacy, I hope folks will call me in for an interview.

If by some anticipated miracle I can keep online, I'll try to keep keeping on making a difference...right about now I could probably stand to apply for non-profit NGO status, but I'm just a "think tank of one" if a former senator was accurate in his assesment, and I haven't ever heard of a one man NGO before, so I doubt if I would qualify for a grant to keep this up.

But stranger things have happened.

Here's an optimistic assesment to grow on...There's over 7 billion on this planet...someone out there has a better idea to contribute, so let 'em know you're soliciting imput and anticipate solutions to problems getting posted.

May not be the answer one might expect, want, nor find workable, but if even one idea helps solve a cronic problem in the world, then the investment made here will be worth it millions of times over.

It's Ok to need all the good help you can get, there's a lot of work to be done.

Do I hear a second from the audience?


Susan C.
Florida, USA
September 28, 2010

Susan C. in Florida writes:

Luke and DipNote staff...thank you for the last three years. You all are obviously very hardworking, and I have found DipNote quite informative and extremely interesting. I appreciate your dedication and hope DipNote is around for many years to come. Happy third birthday.

John P.
September 28, 2010

John P. in Greece writes:

Happy 3rd birthday for sure!!!

However, we should not forget Sean.

It's him who made this great project start.

Keep up the good work everybody!


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