Thursday, May 31, 2012

Public Relations and Propaganda: Restrictions on Executive Agency Activities

Public Relations and Propaganda: Restrictions on Executive Agency Activities
Updated March 21, 2005
Kevin R. Kosar
Analyst in American National Government
Government and Finance Division

Public Relations and Propaganda: Restrictions on Executive Agency Activities


Controversies recently have arisen over certain executive branch agencies’ expenditures of appropriated funds on public relations activities, some of which have been characterized as propagandistic. Generally speaking, there are two legal restrictions on agency public relations activities and propaganda. 5 U.S.C. 3107 prohibits the use of appropriated funds to hire publicity experts. Appropriations law “publicity and propaganda” clauses restrict the use of funds for puffery of an agency, purely partisan communications, and covert propaganda. No federal agency monitors federal public relations activities, but a Member or Committee of Congress may ask the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine an agency’s expenditures on public relations activities with a view to their legality. Any effort to reform current statutory restrictions on agency public relations activities will face three challenges: tracking public relations activities by agencies, defining “propaganda,” and enforcing laws against agency use of funds for publicity experts and propaganda.

On January 26, 2005, H.R. 373 was introduced in the House of Representatives. The bill would require a federal agency to notify the Congress no later than 30 days after entering into a public relations contract, codify the publicity and propaganda clause and provide penalties for violations of it, and require federal agencies to label their communications as having been paid for with appropriated funds.

On February 2, 2005, S. 266 was introduced in the Senate. The bill would define “publicity and propaganda,” codify the types of communications that constitute publicity and propaganda, provide financial penalties for executive agency officials who authorize the use of appropriated funds for publicity and propaganda, empower both the Attorney General and private citizens to bring civil actions against agency officials who authorize the use of appropriated funds for publicity and
propaganda, and provide “whistleblower protection” from agency retribution for employees who take actions in support of this law.

This report will be updated as events warrant.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Silence of the Ivory-Tower Public-Diplomacy Lambs

I have observed (maybe with insufficient information) how few are the learned Public Diplomacy scholars from distinguished American universities who have publicly contributed to the current "Should the Smith-Mundt Act be Amended" debate, covered far too inadequately in recent issues of the Public Diplomacy Review. With a few notable exceptions, among them this excellent piece, (with which I do not entirely agree) thus far it has been mostly non-academics and journalists who have opined about this issue ... Is this silence of the ivory-tower public-diplomacy lambs an indication on their part that the SM controversy is just a tempest in a teapot, or do they feel they need more time for reflection?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Public Diplomacy Anti-Parasite Invited to Mainland China

"An important and necessary tool for building communism is the socialist state, through which the working classes manage production and guide industrial development in the interests of all of society, exercise control over the way labor and distribution are measured, and defend their social gains from hostile classes from without and from 'the parasites, the sons of the wealthy, the swindlers, and other 'guardians of capitalist traditions'’’ (Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 33, p. 102).


The Joys of the Internet

The compiler of the Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review (a blog which strives to be humorous, at the risk of being vulgar, and is evidently firewalled in mainland China), today received an invitation via e-mail to register for the "2nd Annual Symposium of Antiparasites," from mainland China:  8211-Last chance to register for 2nd Annual Symposium of Antiparasites‏ - e-mail from Ms. Sarah Fu, Program Coordinator Organizing Committee of SAP-2012, China East Wing, 11F, Dalian Ascendas IT Park No. 1 Hui Xian Yuan, Dalian Hi-tech Industrial Zone LN 116025, P.R.China Tel: 0086-411-84799609-813 Fax: 0086-411-84799629 - "Dear John Brown, On behalf of the Organizing Committee of SAP-2012, we send this information to you concerning your participation at 2nd Annual Symposium of Antiparasites, which will be held from 30 July to 1 August, 2012 in Guangzhou, China.

In case you won’t miss it, we’d like to extend our invitation again. So far, only few speech opportunities are available now. Here we’d like to invite you to deliver a speech at conference. Would you please let me know if you are available and forward me your potential speech title soon? For the programs details:  Thank you."
 Image from

Propaganda, Public Diplomacy, and the Smith-Mundt Act

(essay under constant revision based on the considerable reader feedback)

"I am not particularly concerned whether either gunpowder or propaganda have benefited or harmed mankind. I merely emphasize, at this point, that propaganda on an immense scale is here to stay. We Americans must become informed and adept at its use, defensively and offensively, or we may find ourselves as archaic as the belted knight who refused to take gunpowder seriously 500 years ago."

--State Department official George V. Allen, in "Propaganda: A Conscious Weapon of Diplomacy," The Department of State Bulletin, XXI, no. 546 (December 19, 1949), 941-943; cited at, footnote 11

Propaganda is hard to define. When viewed historically, however, it is an instrument of war used by a government against its enemy. Modern propaganda, targeted at mass audiences and using the latest media, was launched during World War I. In 1917, the U.S. government established its first propaganda agency, the Committee on Public Information, abolished in 1919. During the other twentieth-century global conflicts  -- World War II and the Cold War -- the USG propaganda agencies were the Office of War Information (1942-1945) and the United States Information Agency (1953-1999). During the War on Terror, the Pentagon, the White House, and the State Department (Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs) handled propaganda, but no independent executive agency was created to deal with it, perhaps because our extremist Islamic enemy turned out to be not as global and threatening as many felt right after 9/11.

Propaganda is much cheaper than hard military power. It causes far fewer casualties than battlefield conflicts. Hence its benefits for a government at war. But how propaganda modifies hearts and minds in a state's interest is hard to measure. This is its main drawback from a military perspective, where the number of enemy dead is a "precise" way to quantify success.

There are three types of propaganda: white, grey and black, described thus by the propaganda scholar Kenneth Osgood:  
White propaganda is correctly attributed to the sponsor and the source is truthfully identified. (The U.S. government's international broadcast service Voice of America, for example, broadcasts white propaganda.) Gray propaganda, on the other hand, is unattributed to the sponsor and conceals the real source of the propaganda. The objective of gray propaganda is to advance viewpoints that are in the interest of the originator but that would be more acceptable to target audiences than official statements. The reasoning is that avowedly propagandistic materials from a foreign government or identified propaganda agency might convince few, but the same ideas presented by seemingly neutral outlets would be more persuasive. Unattributed publications, such as articles in newspapers written by a disguised source, are staples of gray propaganda. Other tactics involve wide dissemination of ideas put forth by others--by foreign governments, by national and international media outlets, or by private groups, individuals, and institutions. Gray propaganda also includes material assistance provided to groups that put forth views deemed useful to the propagandist. Like its gray cousin, black propaganda also camouflages the sponsor's participation. But while gray propaganda is unattributed, black propaganda is falsely attributed. Black propaganda is subversive and provocative; it is usually designed to appear to have originated from a hostile source, in order to cause that source embarrassment, to damage its prestige, to undermine its credibility, or to get it to take actions that it might not otherwise. Black propaganda is usually prepared by secret agents or an intelligence service because it would be damaging to the originating government if it were discovered. It routinely employs underground newspapers, forged documents, planted gossip or rumors, jokes, slogans, and visual symbols.
Roughly speaking, public diplomacy (defined by the State Department as "engaging, informing, and influencing key international audiences") is white propaganda, with some its programs in educational and cultural exchanges quite non-propagandistic, at least to some.  Psyops (now known as MISO) carries out grey and black propaganda. Strategic communication contains elements of the three types ("colors") of propaganda. Propaganda can be overt or covert, in tone humane or bellicose, depending on circumstances and a government's interest.

Bottom line, however, is that propaganda is an instrument of war used by a government, primarily but not exclusively, against a present or possibly future enemy. It stands to reason, therefore, that, because propaganda is a state weapon directed at an adversary, actual or potential, citizens of a country should not be subjected to the propaganda of their government. If they are, their government is essentially waging war upon them. No wonder that after World War I an anti-propaganda tradition developed in the United States -- a country that prides itself on the right of its citizens to think as they wish.

As part of that anti-propaganda tradition, the Smith-Mundt Act, the 1948 legislation (amended several times) which prohibits the domestic dissemination of some USG-produced propaganda ('"information") directed to foreign audiences, is still relevant today. To be sure, the Act could use fine-tuning to deal with the internet age and a globalized world. Americans today can easily find Voice of America news on the Internet. So, some say, forget about  a  60+-year Cold War relic!

Critics of the Act have noted that it was never meant to apply to the Department of Defense, which has its own rules prohibiting domestic psyops.

But this lack of coordinated control over propaganda activities by military and civilian agencies actually underscores the need to reinforce, without censorship, Smith-Mundt's most important point -- that a democratic government should not propagandize its own people, as was the case with totalitarian states like Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, and as is true of today's mainland China. 

The last thing we need is the USG, using Pentagon psyops, to be in a state of perpetual war against its citizens in the name of "access to information in an information age." This is the stated aim of bipartisan bill modernizing Smith-Mundt (recently passed by Congress), as mentioned by one of its supporters, Reps. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon (Texas).

Rather, an upgraded Smith-Mundt Act, if it in fact should be changed at all (let sleeping dogs lie, some would say) should ensure that Americans, even more than over half-a-century ago, have a government that speaks for, rather than propagandizes, them -- in an age when the new social media, increasingly used by the USG, are making privacy, so important for individual freedom, a greater and greater luxury of the past.

Friday, May 18, 2012

How much longer must we endure "engagement " (I always thought it was a just diamond ring)


How much longer must we Americans endure the term "engagement" as a justification for military/bureaucratic waste of our taxpayers' money overseas?

To me, living in a city (Washington, D.C. the capital of the USA "empire") where the rich and the poor live in different worlds, where basic services are inadequate, where public transportation hardly works (we Americans can get a man on the moon, but DC's Metro's elevators break down all the time), where rats proliferate (I saw a fast-running rodent the other day just outside a fancy watering-hole, unseen by members of the younger generation celebrating, by text-messaging, how wonderful they are); where drugs devastate neighborhoods; where DC youngsters are illiterate; where you don't know when you're going to get mugged (as I have, innocently walking in a "safe" neighborhood some years ago) -- below is a self-centered Euro-nonsense, assuming that we, the wonderful USA people, with our many innumerable "issues,"  will pay up (that's the subliminal message) for the Euro-NATO "engagement " diamond ring to keep the Atlantic community "safe" (thanks to American dollars).

My main  point: USA charity begins at home. That's how, indeed, we can be a "model for the world." We are what we do, first of all,  here, at home.

Instead of pontificating about transatlantic "engagement," I suggest the author of the below come to DC and help me and other citizens pick up the trash on our USA capital's streets, one of my civic obligations, as I see them.

How about her teaching French (she uses French words "un engagement" [does engagement really sound better in French?] in the below piece) at a DC public school for a year? Now -- that's real "transatlantic engagement."

I have marked, in yellow, parts of this article, full of State Department-inspired meaningless buzzwords ('Soft Power," "empowered," "transparent,"  "initiative," "feedback," "scenario"), used doubtless by the author in the hope of getting funding for her organization (""),  words that I found particularly unbearable, having been bombarded by them (as we all are) over, and over, and over again in recent years while keeping up (putting up?) with the media. These words do not, in my modest opinion, reflect the reality of our American lives, both in the "homeland" (thank you, George W. Bush, for introducing this linguistic atrocity into our language) and overseas where Jesus -- guess what -- doesn't speak English.


Internet Good? When it comes to the "Gulf Wars," mullahs OK social media - Stephanie Lamy - As a advocate of People Power 2.0 and the immense productive potential of online collaboration, NATO’s Public Policy Division invited me, a simple netizen, to “engage directly in an open and transparent dialogue on issues related to NATO’s current agenda”. By tapping into a globally diverse talent-pool and harnessing the brainpower of the worldwide web the Transatlantic Alliance is pro-actively circumventing artificial consensus on policy-making (one of the pitfalls of expert committees)[,]I must admit that I also felt kind of empowered by this outreach initiative, as if, through my personal experience, commitment and feedback I could contribute, even minutely, to problem solving issues as complex as global security.

So before tackling an opinion piece on Soft Power or providing insight into my experience on Social Media and the Libya conflict or crisis management, I re-read the mission statement of and one word on the “about” page leaped up at me. It’s a little word that often peppers public speeches and policy briefs but rarely translates into deeds.

The one word that seemed all-important here is “engage".

When “engaging in something” we take action; we get involved – generally in an attractive manner. “I’m engaged!” is met with clinks and cheers. To engage is to encourage participation. As a communication consultant, I measure engagement to fathom endorsement, hence success. As a French speaker, the word is even more nuanced: “un engagement” is an enrolment or something larger than just a promise. It’s a commitment, a binding agreement between stakeholders to take positive action. In military terms, however, “engage” or “engagement” implies combat. It’s messy and in most cases lethal, and it expects a “win”. A wildly different meaning from what the word defines in my world.

An intriguing disconnect.

After researching the origin of the military term “engagement” I came across a plausible scenario for this disparity. In the late 1870’s a board of post US civil war officers came together to define military terminology. To them, an engagement “denote(d) a combat of more limited scope (than a battle), involving subordinate units or detachment of main armies. In size, an engagement ranks just below a battle and above such other loosely defined combats as skirmishes, actions, and affairs.”
Some 140 years later, an engagement still implies physical conflict; perhaps due to a culture of tradition and discipline, the military lexicon seems to be impervious to our rapidly changing environments.

So why would NATO, a military organization, invite me to “engage directly”? I should be scared out of my wits about this – not thrilled!

Oh wait – It’s public diplomacy, not a military operation.

Reading “What we are doing right” I was struck by Kristen Durant’s phrase: “if two people have engaged in civil dialog, hostility between them is less likely.” I’m assuming Kristen meant physical hostility – displacing the conflict to another more diluted battleground, a field in which resources are spared (I mean lives, others might think money as well). It still involves fronts, angles of attack and ultimate goals. We rush to combat armed with words, wielding Soft Power, building media campaigns – another military term. Whether sparring verbally or in the field, it’s still a conflict.

The truth is that we, as world citizens, rely on the Transatlantic Alliance and the fruitful collaboration of its member countries to overcome physical challenges to our security. This reality rings even truer when dealing with transnational threats such as terrorism or cyber attacks. Both types of warfare have as common attributes: Decentralised, dislocated command and control structures, and they dispose of a pool of proxies to enrol into lashing out – sometimes indiscriminately. Proxies which the Alliance is trying to win over (at least their hearts and minds). This amorphous warfare seems impossible to squash, and we might all need to accept the fact that we will not “win”, that crisis is the new status quo and that it need not be a bad thing. Crisis breeds innovation – it is a time when fundamental change is necessary.

As one of the first of those necessary changes, let’s synchronize what is said with what is done. I would like to put forward a re-alignment of the definition of “engagement”, the military call to action, with what it really means to the rest of the world: a commitment made by all stakeholders to participate actively. And while we are at it, let’s throw “win” out the window too.

“Hearts and minds” may never be “won”. Besides, battling for their possession is not the ultimate goal, is it? The Alliance might not win, but it could succeed; success being a quality measured through the level of participation of all stakeholders – through dialogue, but principally through actions. “Hearts” and particularly “Minds“ can be sparked into contributing to the problem solving, probably quite easily since the issues aren’t just abstract threats, but immediate concerns. Once enrolled, it’s a small step to take it to an actionable level. When “Hearts and Minds” are engaged, small successes can snowball into larger ones and the brawn might just follow.[HOW PROFOUND!]

Stephanie Lamy
CEO, founder
Social Media, Crisis Management, Advocacy, Public Relations, Social Good.
Co-founder Global Relief Libya"

Image from

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Is Borat the true author of the below "Communication Competency Expectations" in Kahakhstan?

Reacting to the below "scientific" study, I can only think of the verses of Walt Whitman:

Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass. 1900.

180. When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer

WHEN I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Evaluating Employer Communication Competency Expectations: A Pilot Study - Deirdre Breakenridge, "Samoilenko, S.A., Ballard-Reisch, D., and Akhatova, B. (2011). Evaluating Employer Communication Competency Expectations in Kazakhstan. Research Study presented November 18 at the 97th Annual Conventional of the National Communication Association in New Orleans, LA. ... In many countries there is a steady need for competent public relations professionals to assure nation-building inter-ethnic campaigns locally and public diplomacy efforts internationally. Kazakhstan is one of the most successful Central Asian countries among those that emerged from the breakup of the former Soviet Union. Kazakhstan represents an interesting example of a complex, inter-ethnic society working rapidly to adjust to globalization in order to keep up with constantly emerging professional requirements. The rapid growth of the oil and gas industries has significantly contributed to economic growth and decline in poverty. It also increased government public diplomacy efforts for nation branding to promote the country among international businesses and the global political community.

Communication researchers Sergei Samoilenko, George Mason University and Dr. Deborah Ballard-Reisch from Wichita State joined their colleague from Kazakhstan Dr. Akhatova to assess of the quality of the public relations education recently offered in Kazakhstan universities to satisfy the government ambitions for international recognition and acceptance. Primarily, the researchers wanted to understand current expectations held by business employers in Kazakhstan regarding important communication competencies that university graduates with a degree in public relations should possess in order to be successful in their organizations. Their research was intended to provide practical guidelines for educators to develop new curricula in strategic communications that will help Kazakhstan universities better prepare future communication specialists and increase opportunities for their employment." Image from article 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Reclaiming Rhetoric For The Modern Age

Reclaiming Rhetoric For The Modern Age – Stuart Kauffman, NPR

I was fascinated a few years ago to learn the initial meaning in the Greek agora and among its citizens of "rhetoric." But first, what do we nowmean by the term?

Alva wrote recently about cigarette packages carrying frightening images of the consequences of smoking. He described it as propaganda, meant to manipulate, not persuade with the truth. He makes a powerful case.

We now think of rhetoric as, essentially, propaganda. Rhetoric is used to overstate and, often, misrepresent a case. In Alva's good phrase, it is used to "manipulate." In today's sense, "rhetoric" is slightly malign, intentionally misleading, not to be trusted.

Hence my astonishment when I learned (a claim I assume is true) that in ancient Greece the meaning of rhetoric — and the reason it was taught widely in Greece and the Roman Empire — was quite different.

Citizens found themselves confronted with practical, real-life choices, where they did not have access to "all the facts," yet had to make a real decision in face of uncertainty. Rhetoric evolved as the "art" of reasonably persuading one's peers of a course of action in the face of uncertainty.

On learning this, two big issues snap into place for me. First, if not for these sensible reasons, why did the Greeks and Romans teach rhetoric with so much care? Presumably rhetoric was an aspect of responsible citizenship.

I'm reading now the wonderful new book The Swerve, by Stephen Greenblatt, about the rediscovery of the Roman poet Lucretius in 1417 by one Poggio Bracciolini. He was a papal scribe and more, perhaps in the German monastery of Fulda. The discovery did much to pitch the Western world into the flowering humanism of the Renaissance, after perhaps 700 or 800 years of intellectual confinement to the authority of the church.

The second big issue that hits me is this: why do we not teach rhetoric in the ancient sense now? I suspect the answer is the role of science since Newton. We truly believe that science will know and, as Alva wrote, we can be informed of the facts and use reason as our basis of judgement.

Rhetoric, in this worldview, has no civil job to do; just the facts, please.

But I think this view mistakes our real world today. We, like the ancient Greeks, often do not know "the facts" as they stand, or those that may become relevant.

Then, in face of this uncertainty, we, like the Greeks, still have to decide.

If so, it seems to me that rhetoric — in the sense of the ancient world — remains honorable and is part of our civic duty.

Image from article, with caption: The Roman poet and philosopher Titus Lucretius Carus (circa 95 - 55 BC)

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"A thought, once uttered, is a lie."

I hereby propose a new portal/site (call it whatever you want) dedicated to total silence.

You would click on, no content/graphics/sound would appear on it.

"Target audiences" would love it -- the silence.

Client satisfaction from would make bundles to suddenly silent ad gals/guys who wouldn't have to work (or, should I say, pretend they are working) "for a living."

Politicians would say nothing on, to admit that they have nothing to say, to the great relief of their audiences.

"Public diplomacy" diplomats on the site would send "content-free" messages containing not less than 140, but absolutely 0 -- zero!-- characters.

The rhetoricians/propagandists would simply remain silent, to the delight of their interlocutors.

ELECTED Silence, sing to me
And beat upon my whorlèd ear,
Pipe me to pastures still and be
The music that I care to hear.

But do remember Pascal: "Le silence éternel de ces espaces infinis m'effraie."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Evolution of the American Language

From a must-read blog, "Princess Sparkle Pony's Photo Blog," by Washington artist/luminary Peteykins, whom I've never met non-virtually. (His blog-photo below):

My Photo


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Sound of Cultural Engagement: Days 3-4 -- Salzburg Global Seminar on Cultural-Exchange Based Diplomacy

Day 3: Salzburg Global Seminar on Cultural-Exchange Based Diplomacy or,
The Sound of Cultural Engagement
(for the program of the Seminar, see)

On Day 3 of the conference at the 490th Salzburg Global Seminar (April 28-May 2), "Public and Private Cultural-Exchange Based Diplomacy: New Models for the 21st Century"; see previous posts (1) (2) on this event), I attended two plenary sessions -- "Creating an Enabling Environment that Promotes Cultural Diversity within the Context of Cultural Relations" and "Global Communications and the Rise of Social Media: The Future of International Cultural Engagement" -- as well as the breakout sessions (10-person small group meetings) following these two events.

Below are main points I took from these wide-ranging discussions. My account is not comprehensive; readers interested in more thoughtful remarks/details about the conference will find them in its forthcoming final report.

In some cases, below I am quoting speakers directly, with memorable (to  my mind) phrases in quotation marks.

Creating an Enabling Environment that Promotes Cultural Diversity within the Context of Cultural Relations" and Global Communications and the Rise of Social Media: The Future of International Cultural Engagement (Plenary Session)

--Diversity in principle is worthy to pursue, but as a term it is a "head-scratcher" and a "sponge word" that does not have a definitive definition.

--Cultural engagement activists are always asked to "prove the benefit" of their programs to state funders.

--A civilized society requires investment in education and culture if it aspires to create trust -- and overcome xenophobia and loss of confidence in government.

--The British Council is a government-funded agency with 7000 employees and programs in 110 countries that include education, the arts, the rule of law and English teaching.

--The BC believes that not all its activities must originate from London headquarters; it strongly supports partnerships that go beyond "lunchtime alliances." Its emphasis is on learning and listening.

--The new social media and technology as a whole offer BC great opportunities to provide outreach  tailored to specific audiences.

--A diverse world will make us culturally richer. An English-speaking international elite can be a challenge to diversity.


--A relatively new Arab NGO involved in cultural engagement such as Cultural Resource in Cairo can find collaboration with a large American organization a bureaucratic challenge.

--Cultural figures/organizations from the Arab world that seek links with the West should not wait for an invitation; they themselves should take the initiative if they wish to be recognized.

--Understanding and connecting with Islamists should be a priority of forward-looking Arab cultural organizations.


--In the United States, there is a huge marginilization of Hispanics in the field of arts and culture. The cultural "Latinization" of the USA has a long way to go.

--Los Angeles partners with foreign cultural entities (and their embassies in Washington) in arranging cultural exchange programs, including with Latin America.


--In the case of cultural engagement with Africa by means of an exhibition, Global Africa, a key issue is the distinction -- overstressed by some specialists -- between "craft" and "art."

Creating an Enabling Environment that Promotes Cultural Diversity within the Context of Cultural Relations" and Global Communications and the Rise of Social Media: The Future of International Cultural Engagement (Breakout Session)

--Diversity is not an issue in Japan.

--China is a multi-national society of different ethnicities and languages. The policy of the government is "diversity in unity."

--In Russia, where 100 languages are spoken, Russian helps keep the country linguistically together. 

--In order to preserve and encourage diversity, a strategy is needed to link cultural engagement with the experience and expectation of its audiences. But those involved in this process should expect the unexpected.

--Measurement of the results of cultural engagement is important, but cannot always be evaluated scientifically through questionnaires. In some situations, cultural diplomacy cannot be measured.

--In its search for diversity, a complex term, cultural engagement should not neglect the need  to encourage artistic excellence.

Cultural Diplomacy and Engagement in the Digital Age: Global Communications and the Rise of Social Media: The Future of International Cultural Engagement (Plenary Session)

--In the past, obtacles to cultural diplomacy and engagement in the Arab world have included what is perceived as hypocritical policies by outside powers.

--Contrary to what is widely believed in non-Arab countries, the term "Arab Spring" surfaced after the March 2005 Iraqi elections, as an effort to depict the American invasion as making political reform possible. In reality, the Arabic words for "revolution" and "dignity" were used to describe the more recent protests throughout the Middle East.

--Digital media have transformed how individuals in the Arab world (and in the Arab diaspora) interact with one another. These media have also contributed to an expansion in the region of a consumer culture that makes choice possible in the selection of marketable products. But Facebook and Twitter are not the "magic bullet" that brought about political change in non-democratic countries.

--The upper echelons of Arab society have far lesser power to define culture's purpose and content because of the mind-opening information available on the internet.

--Arab governments are using social media in an effort to manipulate its cyberspace-savvy citizens.` They also try to control the flow in private internet message. "One click can sometimes cost someone's life."


--Most of humankind has a tendency to be initially put off by new technology. The telegraph, for example, was first dismissed as the "tell-lie-graph."

--The advance of technology occurs in waves (the term "surfing" a propos the web turns out to be most apt ). Sometimes the drawbridge of technology is pulled up, sometimes down. It is hard to evaluate the effect of a technological "magic bullet."

--Cultural engagement is not limited to the physical world. It can also occur in virtual space, as several digital projects (including one using Second Life) have suggested.


--Traditionally museums are about objects; the digital universe is about intangible items.

--Museums must adapt to the digital revolution, no longer considering themselves, in terms of delivering content, as a source of permanent, unchangeable, information.


--The purpose of social media from a cultural engagement perspective is "to find and interact with interesting people."

--"Digital culture is an overlay on the physical world."

--In terms of the evolution of the social media, the sky's the limit. At the same time, what's new one day is old the next: "Facebook is the McDonald's of the Internet."

Cultural Diplomacy and Engagement in the Digital Age: Global Communications and the Rise of Social Media: The Future of International Cultural Engagement (Breakout Session)

--Facebook is used as a medium in Russia for cultural engagement; the local portal is very popular. An EU-sponsored project for designing a virtual space for disabled persons is being implemented by the St. Petersburg PRO ARTE Foundation for Culture and Arts  in partnership with organizations in Scandinavian countries.

--The website World Cultures Connect, a project in development by the Resource Center for Cultural Engagement, aims to bring individuals and organization involved in cultural engagement together via the Internet.

--The Centro Cultural Estacion Mapocho in Chile makes extensive use of the social media.

--How employees of organizations involved in cultural engagement should use the social media in/at their work can be problematical. While blogs with a personal voice can attract a wider audience than bland announcements, it is not always clear how much "control" an organization should have over the opinions of its employees.

--Use of the internet for cultural engagement should not be limited to social media. Skype, for example, can be an effective and inexpensive way to reach audiences.

Day 4: Salzburg Global Seminar on Cultural-Exchange Based Diplomacy

Day 4 was wrap-up day. The speculations and recommendations of Breakout Sessions were discussed at two Plenary Meetings. Session Rapporteur Andras Szanto envisioned that the final report on the Seminar would consist of five parts: context; gaps; needs; opportunities; action.

Image of Mozart statue, Salzburg, from
With many thanks to SSF.