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State Dept's Latest "Tech Del" Heads to Bogotá

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, July 13 2010

The State Department's latest "tech del" trip is a 3-day mission to Bogotá, Colombia.

Leading the trip to Colombia are State Department staffers Suzanne Hall of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs and Alec Ross, the Secretary of State's Senior Advisor for Innovation. Hall and Ross are accompanied by five technologists: Frontline SMS's Josh Nesbit, Obama campaign vet and Revolution Messaging founder Scott Goodstein, Voto Latino's Maria Teresa Kumar, Silicon Valley reporter Sarah Lacy, and tech entrepreneur Dave McClure. Part of the trip's object, according to a tweet from Hall, is "exploring challenges of demobilizing former paramilitaries" in Colombia.

McClure, for one, is tweeting up a storm, including a report that earlier today he was cast as guerrilla from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, better known as FARC, in a role play of the separation and social reintegration process.

These tech dels are part of the State Department's effort, under the Obama administration, to explore how technology can be used to solve some of the world's toughest problems. Previously trips include missions to Iraq, Mexico, Russia, and Syria. But in a way, an anti-FARC trip to Colombia is a coming-full-circle for the State Department's "21st century statecraft" efforts. The 2008 No Más FARC protests in Colombia, organized largely through Facebook, helped catalyze interest within the State Department in studying how technology can support political and social change around the globe.