My first post is dedicated to defining the scope of my EU Digital Diplomacy blog. I expect this to create a ‘plausible promise’ in the words of Clay Shirky as to what readers can expect from my postings.
Whatever the name you wish to give it, digital diplomacy, also called e-diplomacy, online diplomacy or cyber diplomacy, is a new form of diplomacy in the information age. Despite subtle semantic nuances which I am not going to explore here (but which you can read more about here), it boils down to three major differences compared to traditional diplomacy:
- more information – if you know where to look for, information is available out there, and if you are not ready to disclose it, others may do it for you.
- more interaction – digital communication tools allow not only for a 1-to-many conversation, but more importantly for a many-to-many conversation which in turn is radically changing the way we socialise and interact with both individuals and organisations.
- more transparency – as a consequence of the first two differences, organisations and in particular public institutions are now more willing to open up and share what they are doing and how with citizens.
There is, however, a big discrepancy between using digital technologies to communicate about one’s public diplomacy initiatives, and integrating these technologies and the resulting changes in citizens’ behaviours to shape the decision-making process at diplomatic level.
In my blog, I’d like to explore how this applies to the EU, what European institutions can learn from national governments and other regions, and how the EU Council, for which I work, can be at the forefront of these changes.
There’s no definition of digital or e-diplomacy yet on Wikipedia so before I leave you to fix that, here’s a video definition which encapsulates well the differences which I tried to pinpoint earlier. It’s by Alec Ross, Senior Innovation Advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. What would be your definition?