Social Media Government

Crossmedia Campaigning

Only three days left for 62.2 million eligible Germans to vote to elect a new parliament which, many fear, is likely to result in more of the same, a CDU-led grand coalition government together with the SPD. Out of those 62.2 million, about 3.5 million voters will cast their ballot for the very first time, with around 2.8 million of them members of one of Germany’s leading social networking forums: StudiVZ, SchülerVZ and meinVZ.

Given the dramatic twist of 2002’s German general election when the SPD won with a mere advance of 6.027 votes compared to the CDU/CSU, the attitudes of some millions of voters illustrate that in a democracy every vote counts.

So how to best trace the hard-to-predict political attitudes of young voters? Right, start a massive crossmedia offensive with social networks, public television stations, newspapers, Twitter and YouTube working hand-in-hand to provide a platform with the hardly web 2.0-compatible name of “Erst fragen, dann wählen” (= ask first, then vote).

Fine, let us “ask first” then…

Screenshot of the "Erst fragen, dann wählen" website
Screenshot of the "Erst fragen, dann wählen" website
International Relations Social Media

International Relations on Facebook – the Best and the Brightest

Engagement through Facebook, photo: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid / flickr
Engagement through Facebook, photo: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid / flickr

While hardly a comprehensive list of top IR Facebookers, we thought we’d put together a top ten of interesting organizations and personalities to follow on Facebook (in no particular order).

Many provide neat and easy access and links to their newest content; others encourage active debate and exchange of views on their ‘Discussion’ board. US Forces in Afghanistan even provide picture series (in the ‘Boxes’ section) that show the daily work of troops in the Afghan theater. For others still, Facebook provides an avenue for engagement with hitherto ‘distant’ audiences – Admiral Mike Mullen’s Flickr stream and Twittering come to mind.

If you know of other interesting, engaged and insightful Facebookers in the IR field, please let us know and add your suggestions to the ‘Comments’ section.

And please remember that you can find us on Facebook and Twitter too.

Happy Facebooking!

1. The Atlantic

2. Foreign Policy Magazine

3. US Forces in Afghanistan

4. Al Jazeera

5. World Economic Forum

6. Oxfam (GB)

7. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

8. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

9. Council on Foreign Relations

10. United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR)

International Relations Social Media Technology Internet

Social Media Misers

The usual suspects according to ONI / Screenshot: OpenNet Initiative
The usual suspects according to ONI / Screenshot: OpenNet Initiative

The OpenNet Initiative, a partnership according to the site between “the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto; Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University; the Advanced Network Research Group at the Cambridge Security Programme, University of Cambridge; and the Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University,” has posted an interactive map showing which countries filter or block particular social media sites. Facebook, Flickr, Orkut, Twitter and YouTube are the ones they focus on.

The usual culprits are represented: China intermittently blocks Facebook, Saudi Arabia totally blocks it; Saudi Arabia and Iran block Orkut (they seem to be the only two that care to do so); China and Iran block Twitter from time to time; and Indonesia apparently blocks YouTube off and on.

There are a couple of user-friendliness issues with the map: The pop-up that appears about a country when you hold your mouse over it seems to be too wide for the map window; and it would be nice to have instructions on how to navigate the map for those who aren’t click-savvy.

Not all countries have been tested though; hopefully that’s in the near future.

Other than those picky little things, ONI’s map is a great start, giving an interesting overview on which countries are extending their authoritarian might onto the internet.

Social Media

Twitter, Revisited

Twitter bird illustration, photo and illustration: Matt Hamm/ flickr
Twitter bird illustration, photo and illustration: Matt Hamm/ flickr

With constant overcapacity problems, seemingly incurable slowness and a cyber-environment filled with spammers of all shapes and sizes, it seems almost surprising to me that the whole Twitter thing has gained any fraction at all. But it has, and particularly in the wake of the Moldovan and Iranian protests the buzz about so-called ‘Twitter revolutions’ reached astronomically unreasonable proportions.

Foreign Policy has laid out the good, the bad and the ugly of Twitter for us in two excellent pieces. One takes a closer look at Twitter– where it matters and where it falls short of often inflated expectations; the other lays out the ‘Twitterati’ of the micro-blogosphrere– the one hundred best Twitter users in the international affairs field.

Worth a read and an eye-opener for those of us who thought that tweets could save the world.

Uncategorized International Relations Journalism New Media Social Media Audio/Video

ISN Weekly Theme: Technology and Democracy

Tweet for the peeps / photo: G20Voice, flickr
Tweet for the peeps / photo: G20Voice, flickr

Twitter had a lead role in the Iranian uprising after the contested elections last month. But that wasn’t the first time a popular form of communication proved vital in a democracy movement. This week we’re focusing on the impact platforms such as Twitter, Facebook – and Web technology overall – have on democracy movements and the relationships between governments and their constituents.

Here’s a quick rundown of just a few website highlights: