Posts Tagged ‘You Tube’

The Changing Face of War

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If the ongoing conflict in Gaza is anything to go by, it’s clear that the definition of war has changed.

The battle grounds have shifted — and moved online. This time with new frontiers and shinier weapons.

Social media tools like Facebook and Twitter are increasingly being used to express political views and rally support, while Second Life is the new gathering ground to protest attacks.

Israeli human rights group Gisha chose animation to raise consciousness about the difficulties facing Gazans who remain confined to the territory.

Last year, the Israeli military started its own YouTube channel to distribute footage of precision air strikes, while the Israeli consulate in New York hosted a press conference on Twitter to respond to questions from the public about Gaza.

But tweeting, according to a blog post on Wired, is passé.

“The latest social media advance combines tools like Twitter, text messaging, and online mapping to gather up first-hand reports, straight from Gaza. The effort, from Al Jazeera Labs, just got started; the reporting is still spotty, and the technology is very much in the testing phase. But the idea is for residents of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank to send quick updates about the conflict from their computers or mobile phones, through SMS or Twitter. The results are then verified, and posted to a Microsoft Virtual Earth map.”

Technology and the Internet have completely changed the face of this rapidly evolving “war of words.”

David Saranga, the head of media relations for the Israeli consulate, in New York says:

“Since the definition of war has changed, the definition of public diplomacy has to change as well.”

Public diplomacy or propaganda? You decide.


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Calling The Oval Office

A direct line to the Oval Office? Apparently, it’s possible.

Keeping his promise of running an open and more responsive White House, President Obama on Tuesday invited the public to use a new feature on WhiteHouse.gov called ‘Open for Questions’ to ask him economy-related questions and vote on other submitted questions.

“We’re going to take advantage of the Internet to to bring all of you to the White House to talk about the economy,” says President Obama in a video, now available on You Tube. On March 26, in a special “community-moderated online town hall,” the president will answer “some of the most popular questions.” The event will also be streamed live on on WhiteHouse.gov.

It will be interesting to watch the President and his new media team attempt to follow through on their promises of a more wired White House.

Jose Antonio Vargas of the Washington Post says: “Expect a herd of organized (and unorganized) Web users to stampede WhiteHouse.gov and make it a highly trafficked political hub over the next 48 hours.”

At the time of writing this post, 8,664 people had submitted 9,387 questions and cast 322,284 votes. The most popular question so far?

“As a student, who like so many others works full time and attends school full time, only to break even at the end of the month. What is the government doing to make higher education more affordable for lower and middle class families?
— James, Bloomington, Indiana

According to Techcrunch, the White House will use Google Moderator to determine which questions President Obama should answer on Thursday.

While the “experiment” is definitely a welcome move towards transparency and accountability, it does raise concerns about how questions will finally be selected and the possibility that this kind of voting system may allow the weakest questions to  rise to the top.

There’s no doubt, however, if used effectively, this is a great way to engage the online community.  This is an opportunity for us to ask some tough and relevant questions.

Let’s hope we get more than just old boilerplate in return.

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