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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)

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.

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.

Tags:

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:

Yelling for Understanding of International Relations

Let me say this first:  I am definitely not a fan of  the Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

When I was working for a German internet service provider, our chief marketing officer thought that showing us a clip of how Steve whips up the people at Microsoft would be a good motivator.

I wasn’t motivated. I was just shocked. This moment fixed my picture of Ballmer for the eternity.

So I was really surprised when I saw an article on paidcontent.org this morning discussing Ballmer’s speech at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

The same crazy jumping Ballmer that shocked me some years ago said one of the most interesting things I have read about the financial crisis in traditional media in the last weeks:

“I don’t think we are in a recession, I think we have reset,” he said. “A recession implies recovery [to pre-recession levels] and for planning purposes I don’t think we will. We have reset and won’t rebound and re-grow.” Ballmer, named media person of the year at this year’s festival, also painted a bleak picture for the future of traditional media, arguing that newspaper publishers have failed to generate new revenues from the digital opportunity. He said that within 10 years all traditional content will be digital”

I have seen a lot of boring articles about Google killing quality journalism in the last months.  Some people were asking if media should be the next industry that has to be supported by the governments. There are still a lot of tradional media companies praying that the hypothesis of Wolfgang Riepl stays true. He said in 1913  that “new media never make the old media disappear”.

We need traditional media to understand the most important questions in international relations, security and foreign policy. Of course we are impressed by the possibilities of the internet and the rising influence of social media like blogs, Facebook or Twitter. Yes, these days the Tweets from Iran are amazing.  But as my colleague Rashunda Tramble mentioned in this blog:   “Tweetable doesn’t automatically mean reliable.”

Therefore I should probably rethink my picture of Steve Ballmer. Maybe a  jumping, stomping and yelling man is needed to wake up traditonal media and save their important role in our understanding of international relations and foreign policy.

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