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Digital Diplomacy Isn't a Choice

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, August 4 2010

NDN's Sam duPont argues in Foreign Policy that "digital diplomacy" is really just a pragmatic approach to engaging in the world that as it is:

The new strategy is essentially a recognition of the networked world we live in. The global network of information and communication technology now connects more than half of all people on Earth, mostly through mobile phones. More than 4.5 billion people currently own a mobile phone, and within the next decade, that number will reach 90 percent of the global population. So when Clinton speaks of "a single Internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas," she is not describing some messianic attempt to impose American technological solutions on the rest of the world. She is talking about the world as it soon will be -- and in many ways already is.

That notion -- that the U.S. State Department that intends to stay globally relevant doesn't really have the luxury of embracing Luddism in a world where every other kid has a cell phone in her pocket -- seems like a useful elevator pitch for what Clinton & Co. are up to. That said, it's curious that duPont includes the Secretary's "Internet freedom" push (one world, essentially, one Internet) in the mix, since, as is suggested with the Mideast Blackberry crackdown this week, that piece is more aspirational than reflective. Give it a read.