However, despite (because of?) the cables' detailed attention to conventional rules of traditionally accepted grammar, style, and coherence, they do read and look (with their antiquated-looking numbered paragraphs and "reftels" rather than links) totally passé when compared to the now increasingly à la mode, "minimal language/meaning" and "cool" graphics of Facebook and Twitter.
True, as the distinguished former American diplomat and author Yale Richmond reminded me after reading an earlier draft of this entry, cables as a rule begin with an introductory section summarizing their contents. But these summaries are certainly not limited, as is the case with Twitter, to 140 characters. Even if brief by twentieth-century standards, they have far too many (thoughtful?) words for our instant-communication-gratification-takes-too-long internet era to make an impact, except in a limited number of cases. And, even before the creation of information-now cyberspace, remember (if you are of a certain age) George H.W. Bush looking at CNN to understand what was going on in Somalia and Russia?
So the WikiLeaks' overly-hyped exposure of classified cables, which supposedly underscored, to some, their importance as "proof" of the American government's secret, well-planned overseas conspiracies, putatively to take over the globe through a well-orchestrated strategy -- is, to any observer of the new social media, actually an indication of these missives' growing insignificance, given their outdated nature as a mode of modern communication.
Indeed, State Department overseas telegrams are often dead, rather than read, upon arrival at Foggy Bottom headquarters -- because dedicated people there are today constantly on the phone and/or online dealing with inside-the-beltway issues that often have nothing to do, no matter what administration, with foreign policy. (No wonder the leaker of the cables was Pvt. Bradley Manning, an Army intelligence analyst -- not a State employee -- who may have actually looked at some of the missives, presumably bored while listening to Lady Gaga).
The Andy-Warhol lookalike James Assange,
following the pop-art master's aspiration to be an enfant terrible
in order, perhaps, to gain 15 minutes of fame, is not, in spirit, at extreme odds with the ambitious not-so-young Turks at the State Department (one of whom, Jared Cohen, is no longer at Foggy Bottom, off to greener $ pastures at Google) who condemned the Department for being a communications dinosaur out of tune with the sexy "now" internet media that supposedly can lead to democracy throughout the world.
I would bet that fewer and fewer entering FSOs (Foreign Service officers) will be encouraged by their superiors to put their thoughts down in writing in cable form, for putative "security" reasons, but, perhaps more important, because few inside the hard-working State Department bureaucracy, at home or abroad, have the time/inclination carefully to read telegrams of any length anymore, including the superiors who must "clear" these communications (such superiors, however, doubtless inspected dispatches originating from their post once they were leaked, in search of any information that could embarrass them!).
So, ironically again, Mr. Assange did the drafters of these exposed cables (among them, I'm quite sure, young FSOs hoping that their reports will be noticed) a service: They got recognition for their "I got-an-A-in-Freshman-English" prose and analysis. Somebody, somewhere, actually read what they wrote other than themselves -- and what they wrote got posted over the internet for all the world to discuss!
Relative good/total confusion may come out of all this: American diplomats will become bloggers and twitterers in order to communicate with headquarters and with the rest of our small planet. But by the time they actually do so, given how slowly the State Department adapts to change, twittering and blogging will quite probably have become "oh-so-early-twenty-first-century."
Assage image from; Warhol image as portrayed by actor David Bowie in a Publicity Still for the Film "Basquait" Posters from