Year in Review: DipNote Editors' Selections From 2010, Part Two

Posted by Luke Forgerson
January 16, 2011
Laptop Computer at a Cafe in Duesseldorf

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

As my colleague Ruth Bennett mentioned in her entry, we opted to forgo our usual "year in review" blog post in 2011. With about 1,300 entries posted to DipNote last year, we felt that a series of entries highlighting aspects of the State Department's broad scope of work in 2010 might better give the many varied issues their due attention. As we conclude our series looking back, I'd like to spotlight ten of DipNote's entries that I found particularly memorable last year and hear from you, our readers, on what topics you'd like to read more about in 2011.

This past week, we remembered the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti one year ago. In the hours after the disaster, State Department Counselor and Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills highlighted ways each of us could take action to help Haiti. Her entry garnered more comments than any other posting on DipNote last year and reflected the desire of so many individuals in the United States and around the world to assist the people of Haiti after this tragedy. In the weeks that followed, Gordon Duguid and Paul Mayer told us about the U.S. response to the disaster and reflected on what they saw in Port-au-Prince.

In the face of great challenges last year, we saw individuals act with bravery and resolve, not only in Haiti but elsewhere in the world. Joann Lockard told us what it was like to be in Uganda in the days after the bombings last summer and voiced the difficult decisions one must make in the face of such a tragedy. Ambassador David Huebner described how the people of New Zealand demonstrated a generous spirit after an earthquake struck their country.

Ambassador Ertharin Cousin provided a number of entries on efforts to fight global hunger and advance food security. In Bangladesh, she connected with a group of rural schoolchildren, beneficiaries of a food assistance program.

In Afghanistan, Kathy Gunderman showed us that sometimes diplomacy comes down to a moment, reflecting on a memorable exchange she had with a group of Afghan farmers. Tom Countryman reminded us diplomacy often takes a sustained commitment, looking back on progress after ten years of diplomacy in the Balkans.

As we often see in diplomacy, shared traditions and values unite us. Tad Brown described Diwali and Thanksgiving in India, and Marianne Sartori celebrated both the Fourth and the Fourteenth of July in France.

Each of these entries offers a different snapshot of American diplomacy. Taken together, I hope they give readers a broader picture of what the State Department does. I am very grateful to all of the many colleagues who have taken the time over the last year to contribute to DipNote. The blog depends upon our colleagues to share with us the work they do on a daily basis. It also relies so much upon you, our readers, many of whom offer us your thoughts and feedback. We'd like to take this opportunity to hear from you once again -- tell us what you'd like to see on the blog in 2011. We look forward to hearing from you!



Susan C.
Florida, USA
January 19, 2011

Susan C. in Florida writes:

I have visited the DipNote blog from it's beginning. It just keeps getting better and better. I like the new formats, such as "Week in Review", and the "new end of the year" reviews by the editors. As usual, the photos are outstanding and always pull me into the posting. I do appreciate the time the different authors of these postings take to tell us about what they are doing and what is being accomplished by the State Department around the world, as well as, here in the U.S.A.. Keep up the excellent job you are doing, it is noticed and appreciated.

New Mexico, USA
January 21, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Luke,

I'll offer my hearty "second" to Susan's thoughts and a couple ideas that may be old and bold, and some new and perhaps due, in furthering this social experiment called Dipnote.

Three catagories of which may generate sustained debate on many levels.

- Greater interaction between the global public readership and the US gov.

- Greater understanding on the part of both (above) for policy, intent, and the thinking behind both, on both the philosophical and practical policy level.

- The fostering of considered, constructive debate in order to generate solutions to global problems and sustainability of human progress.

It has been my obligation as a citizen to inspire folks to think, whether some feel that may be warranted or not (chuckle), and in addressing issues knowing I don't have billions to throw at a problem, I really can't afford to be shy about it, nor in the asking for folks to lend an ear along with hearts and minds.

My feeling is neither can my government to be effective.

And what that manifests as on this blog is primarily the author of a blog post's responsibility to engage with the public directly, and engage with the public every day of the week.

If they have the time to write it, they have the time to respond to question or comment about what they wrote here, and that's only logical and appropriate.

I'm not suggesting how they should respond, just that they do on a consistant basis.

I've noticed as well that one may think of a "full soundbite" as paradoxical when only the full enchilada on video will suffice to garner the public's full attention and understanding of the interactions of senior officials within their duties and communications.

And then there's the topic(s) du'jour...of which the daily briefing @ State should I think be available on this blog as well as ( I've stated the logic of doing so any number of times over the years)

I simply believe it should become part of the staple diet among the Dipnote readership.

And I don't know how PJ Crowley would feel about this, but I would suggest to him that it may be worthy in the training of junior spokespersons in responding to public question put thereby in the comment section.

Last but not least, I gather that some on your staff hesitate to direct readers to other blogs. Ok, I suppose there's some proprietary investment at work in that attitude, and notable exception made on occasion as appropriate.

But the success of this blog is found in its interactive nature as your remarks indicated.

Well State has 190+ embassies world-wide, and an email to the webmasters would very likely get them to include a link to Dipnote on their sites, and the blog-roll here should probably include every US Ambassador's blog in the world.

Take the USUN blog for instance, it's an "in-house" blog without the public able to comment directly on it.

Same with the Whitehouse blog.

Now the public can leave comment on the contact page, but it won't be public comment and an auto-responder isn't exactly human interaction.

If Diplomacy is all about networking on the practical level to generate imput, ideas, and common understanding, then as Managing Editor of this blog, how would you think best to approach this in order to evolve interactive government?

And what constraints might negate the possibilities for such evolution?

Thanks, and keep up the good work!


April 1, 2011

C.F. in Vietnam writes:

These are very valid points. Thanks for all the useful info.

May 4, 2011

N. writes:

A lot of useful information here ... thanks. I'll bookmark this.


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