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Archive for February, 2007

It appears as though Pentagon communicators — the ones who are responsible for telling the military’s story to the public — can once again learn a thing or two from operators.

Computer World is reporting that other military agencies are already using Web 2.0 technologies to create mashups for the purpose of furthering mission.

From the article:

The U.S. Department of Defense’s lead intelligence agency is using wikis, blogs, RSS feeds and enterprise “mashups” to help its analysts collaborate better when sifting through data used to support military operations.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is seeing “mushrooming” use of these various Web 2.0 technologies that are becoming critical to accomplishing missions that require intelligence sharing among analysts, said Lewis Shepherd, chief of DIA’s Requirements and Research Group at the Pentagon.

The tools are helping DIA meet the directives set by the 9/11 Commission and other entities for intelligence agencies to “improve and deepen our collaborative work processes,” he said.

DIA first launched a wiki it dubbed Intellipedia in 2004 on the Defense Department’s Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS), a top-secret network that links all the government’s intelligence agencies.

“The collaboration potential of the social software side is really being thoroughly vetted and is now rapidly being adopted,” Shepherd said. “Across agencies, wikis and blogs are becoming as ubiquitous as e-mail in terms of information sharing.”

They have the right idea

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Visual media

In an age where people are caught up on verbal communication — blogs and podcasts and wikis (oh my!) — we sometimes forget the power of an image.

The digital age is about more than words. Visual media is sometimes more powerful.

Consider that the Army’s image page is one of the most trafficked on the domain.

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While writing about Neighborhood America, a company that creates online social networks for commercial, media and government clients, Mashable joked about the fact that the company listed the Department of Defense as one if its clients (MyNukes.com — a new social networking Web site.).

Naturally, I was intrigued and excited that DoD had turned to this company for online support. Was OSD Public Affairs about to launch a massive and innovative online community to connect the American people with the military in ways that previously weren’t possible?

I decided to investigate further.

When I dug deeper, I only found myself disappointed. It turns out that the work Neighborhood America had done was for DAPA — the Defense Acquisition Performance Assessment. The work simply to create an online public commenting system about defense acquisition projects.

Yawn.

Perhaps this lack of vision isn’t only the fault of the Department of Defense. Consider the way that Neighborhood America bills its service on its Web site. For media, Neighborhood America “supports audience engagement.” For business, it “builds customer communities.” But for government? It “manages public comment.”

Government should be about more than managing comment. Consider all of the new two-way communication technologies that are available today online. If they are good for media and business, why not for government? Why is governing in this day and age of connectivity about “management” rather than conversation?

I’m not saying the DoD should create MyNukes.com. That was just parody. Still, there is room for a Department of Defense social network. Others have already shown the model can work, and I previously pointed out that in an age where too many people don’t understand the military because they aren’t touched by it, an online network could be the solution.

To OSD Public Affairs — your imagination is the limit.

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Off Topic Sunday

I couldn’t not post this.

Too funny.

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Sunday should be interesting. Let’s see how the milblogosphere responds to this.

From Drudge:

They say they are not disloyal. They say they are not shirking their duty and that they do not oppose war. But over 1,000 active-duty and reserve members of the U.S. military are against the war in Iraq and have said so in an unusually public way -- by petitioning Congress last month. Several of them appear to explain their actions in a Lara Logan report to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday Feb. 25 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

"I'm not anti-war. I'm not a pacifist. I'm not opposed to protecting our country and defending our principles," says Navy Petty Officer Jonathan Hutto, an Iraq war veteran who, along with another veteran, initiated the petition. A 1995 law called the Military Whistleblower act enables military personnel to express their own opinions about Iraq in protected communication directly to Congress. Hutto and others spoke with 60 MINUTES while off duty, off base and out of uniform as conscientious citizens. "But at the same time, as citizens, it's our obligation to have a questioning attitude... about policy," Hutto tells Logan.

Marine Sgt. Liam Madden, who helped Hutto to found the organization they call Appeal for Redress that has attracted 1,000 other military members, is more blunt. "Just because we volunteered for the military doesn't mean we volunteered to put our lives in unnecessary harm and to carry out missions that are illogical and immoral."

These GIs and others Logan spoke with expressed frustration with their efforts in Iraq and believe there is no end in sight to the war. Other Iraqi war veterans still on duty there believe Appeal for Redress misses a larger point. "As an American soldier, I feel like we took an oath to obey the orders of our commander-in-chief and officers appointed over us," says Army Spec. James Smauldon. Said another serviceman in Iraq, Army Capt. Lawrence Nunn, "I know what I'm here fighting for, to give the Iraqi people some democracy and hope, so I am 100 percent behind this mission. You don't sign up to pick which war you go to."

Another Appeal for Redress member counters, "Our leadership gets to choose the mission. Congress gets to choose the mission," Staff Sgt. Matt Nuckolls says. He's loyally committed to whatever Congress wants him to do but savors the right to question it. "My Congressman is Lacy Clay. I would like to tell him as a constituent of his, 'Is the mission in Iraq really what you want us to be doing?' And then [if] he responds yes, okay, well, we go back to Iraq and keep doing what we're doing."

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Milbloggies

Voting for the 2006 Milbloggies is now officially open! Go to milblogging.com and vote.

Thanks to all my friends and readers who nominated me in the military supporter category! If you like what you read here, please, go vote!

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Campbell-Ewald and mobile marketing

Yesterday I bashed Navy PR firm Campbell-Ewald for not understanding the YouTube culture.

Today, I need to link to an interesting approach they have taken with mobile marketing:

From the Internet to GPS, the U.S. military often gets a first crack at deploying emerging technologies, so it’s fitting that a current U.S. Navy Reserve campaign is testing the Bluetooth waters. The effort aims to inspire today’s sailors through a mobile video to “Make a Difference a Few Days at a Time” by joining the reserve.

Fittingly, the campaign is highly targeted, reaching out to residents of 13 naval bases across the country. Locations such as mess halls and the NEX, or Naval Exchange store, are hubs of everyday life for sailors and their families on naval bases. And that’s exactly where the campaign’s developers decided to bivouac the Bluetooth-enabled ads: on payphone kiosks right outside those prime spots.

NEXs are “hugely popular,” said Scott Cohen, director of marketing at payphone ad firm Prime Point Media,” referring to them as the Navy’s version of Wal-Mart. “Some people go to them everyday or multiple times everyday.”

In a stealthy manner any submariner could appreciate, when someone carrying a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone set to discoverable mode nears a payphone featuring one of the campaign’s ad wraps, the phone is detected by a device attached to the phone ad. The ad device then sends a message to the phone, asking if the recipient would like to download a video from the reserve. If the answer is “yes,” the device immediately uploads the two-minute clip, complete with patriotic testimonials and allusions to brotherhood and pride. The video clip prompts viewers to visit the Navy Reserve.com Web site, or call the reserve.

Following its launch in November and through December, about 11,000 Bluetooth phones in discoverable mode were detected, resulting in about 2,000 successful full video deliveries. Campbell-Ewald developed the campaign creative and placed media through Outdoor Services. 

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