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Creating a Common Communications Culture: Publications: Virtual Diplomacy Initiative: U.S. Institute of Peace

Rob Stuart hooked me up with a wonderful article Creating a Common Communications Culture: Publications: Virtual Diplomacy Initiative: U.S. Institute of Peace

The focus of the paper is on the relief and humanitarian aid groups working in life and death environments. In an atmosphere which groups have stressed the importance of communications (internal and external) and breakdowns lead to mission threatening and therefore life threatening situations. The paper lays out an assessment that the network to foster communication is still set up with no clear central direction or game plan.

What are we building in the nonprofit advocacy sector with no central direction or game plan. What are the structures we are leaving in place by "accident"? Are they systems of connectivity that others can exploit in future campaigns or are they legacies of bureaucracy that must be struggled with in future endeavors?

Even with these visionary applications of information technologies to crisis management, we are far from fulfilling their potential. We tie our hands with outdated institutions and practices.

No technologies have been more powerful in reshaping the post-Cold War international system than those of the information revolution. Over the past two decades, nation-states and subnational groups, international businesses, and multinational organizations have struggled to incorporate the dramatic possibilities for their work of satellite communications, the Internet, inexpensive telephone and cell phone services, fax machines, and global computer networks. The innovations have occurred largely without central direction or a clear game plan, and the effects of the ongoing revolution in the way we communicate on international affairs will continue. We are only beginning to see purposeful efforts to channel all the power in these technologies in support of good governance...

We are certainly not the only sector struggling with updating strategy to leverage connectivity effectively or struggling with the appropriate value and role of outdated institutions and practices.

Perhaps most central to these assessments, we came to realize that communications interoperability is less a technical problem than a matter of organizational politics. Commitment at the very highest policy levels to implement and enforce omni-directional information sharing is required before there can be meaningful information exchange from headquarters all the way down into the field.