Archive for the ‘DoD’ Category

Those dangerous interwebs

As if the military didn’t have enough irrational fears about online technology…

From af.mil:

“Intruders” from cyberspace are trying to hack into the Kadena Air Base network and steal information from unsuspecting e-mail users.

The intruders are not hackers, though they pretend to be to gain access to information they would need if they wanted to cripple the mission here.

Fortunately, they are not a real threat but a group of Airmen from the 18th Communications Squadron’s “Blue Team” charged with strengthening Kadena’s network through training, testing and assessing users.

“(Lt. Col. Clayton Perce, 18th CS commander) recognized we had people in our squadron with the unique talent of understanding the mindset of hackers,” said Lt. Col. Alonna Barnhart, 18th CS Blue Team officer-in-charge. “We act as ‘blue team aggressors’ against Kadena’s network users, helping people recognize the threat, train for the threat and retrain as necessary.”

One of the biggest threats to the local network is an e-mail scam known as phishing. Phishing is an attempt to acquire sensitive information by fraudulent means such as e-mail designed to look like a bank or other trustworthy company. Sensitive information sought by hackers includes usernames, passwords and credit card numbers.

I think the way that this story is written shows how much public affairs types have acquiesced to network administrator types when it comes to use of the Internet. Under the frame presented in this story (and furthered by network administrators), online technology is rife with danger. Watch out or the enemy will get you online.

No wonder the “ban MySpace/YouTube” forces are winning the DoD’s internal struggle for ownership of the Internet.

Why aren’t there more articles about how the Internet is a powerful force in helping the military gather intelligence and fight our nation’s wars? Because it wouldn’t fit with the big, bad Internet storyline?

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Text messaging is the new frontier for communications.

Mobile phones are ubiquitous in the US. Tens of billions of text messages are sent and received every year.

Yet marketers are still experimenting with the best ways to tap into this phenomenal communications resource.

The DOD however, has come up with an interesting approach that I think is quite effective — they have incorporated text messaging into the America Supports You “Giving Thanks Campaign.”

This holiday season, America Supports You is giving you a new way to send your thanks to the troops – by text message! When you send your message of thanks to 89279 (TXASY) between November 17th and 22nd, you’ll receive a special thanks in return.

The really interesting part is the feedback loop they created — go to their web site and you can get the code for an embeddable widget for your blog or Web site that will display the text messages sent to troops. So not only can you participate and show your thanks, you can also show everyone else that people are supporting the troops.

Overall, this is a great way to use technology to engage with people, leverage the benefits of SMS and connect those messages of support to others online. I’d encourage you all to check it out and send a text message.

I am.

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Dear America Supports You,

Today, I noticed you have a new channel on YouTube. It looks like it was created sometime last week. Well done for putting good video online, like this one:

My praise for you, however, ends there.

Putting video online is not a communications strategy. It is a necessary step to get out your message; if it is not uploaded, it has no chance to be seen. However, it is not sufficient.

John Bell notes that this is one of the four myths of viral video:

Plopping a video on YouTube is a digital strategy. That’s the third part of the myth. It says that something that is worth talking about will find its own audience organically (i.e. with no marketing effort) and will gain viral velocity until it reaches millions. Duncan Watts would point out that most ‘viral’ things die off before reaching what anyone would claim is a tipping point of volume. If part of a digital strategy includes video(s) that will grab people’s attention then we need to support them with smart, authentic promotion. Viral videos go better with outreach and advertising. This seems couterintuitive if you as a marketer are using video to raise awareness of some engagement opportunity with your brand online. Now we want you to promote the promotion? If you are designing a truly engaging experience for your users than this will make sense. If you want to use video as your entire strategy, then it may not make sense.

Not surprisingly, in four days, the five videos uploaded to your page have accumulated fewer than 100 views. Combined.

Compare that to this one clip of Miss Teen South Carolina answering a question about education (with hilarity ensuing):

That clip, in just two days, has had over 2 million views on YouTube.

The trick to successful online video is (a) having compelling content, (b) making it sharable and (c) letting people know it is out there.

You have taken the first step. Time to get moving on the other two.


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DoD hearts Wikipedia

From Ares:

… As much time as [Department of Homeland Security] employees are spending editing Wikipedia entries, their work is nothing compared to the folks at the Department of Defense, whose .mil account holders have been very busy on Wikipedia. The defense agency with the most edits originating from its .mil address is Army’s Network Information Center, with 43,823 edits. The U.S. Air Forces comes in second with 21,478 edits, while the Naval Surface Warfare Center has 18, 591. The numbers drop dramatically from there with fourth and fifth place going to the Pentagon overall and the Office of the Secretary of Defense at 3,355 and 2,685 edits, respectively.

I’m curious to see what has been edited. Anyone want to take a gander at Wiki Scanner to see?

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From Mashable:

The Military ban of YouTube and twelve other sites including MySpace, Metacafe, MTV, Pandora, Photobucket, and Blackplanet has caused quite a stir in the press, in the military and with the banned social networks themselves. YouTube now wants to meet with Pentagon officials in order to convince them to reverse their decision to block its site for use from troops that use the Defense Department’s computer network.

The Military has insisted that for security purposes as well s the necessity to boost network efficiency, the heavy bandwidth sites must be blocked from use, though the ban bars no reflection on how the military regards such social networks as YouTube and MySpace. The biggest point of discussion regarding the ban was the ironic fact that the military is quick to leverage such networks for their own marketing purposes while insisting that their own troops cannot access these sites. Equally important is the fact that some sites on the banned list, especially Blackplanet, are small in comparison to YouTube, and do not take up nearly as many resources from the Defense Department’s network. Ben Sun, CEO of Community Connect, which operates Blackplanet, is seeking a reversal by the Pentagon for this reason.

Whether or not officials from the Pentagon have agreed to meet with YouTube or BlackPlanet is yet to be seen, but it does leave us all scratching our heads as to the real reasons for banning the sites in the first place.

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Bad use of widgets

Don’t you love it when you are going through your files and find something that you wanted to write about a few months ago, but never got around to?

That happened to me today.

A couple months ago, I took a screen shot of a Widget (presumably created by OSD Public Affairs) that syndicates news from DOD through a widget created by SpringWidget that anyone can download and post to their blog, Web site, etc.

Widgets are a relatively new addition to the Web 2.0 world, but many social media luminaries (including my colleague Steve Rubel) are saying they are the next big thing.

So lets review:

  • Widgets = good
  • Widgets syndicating your content for you = very good
  • Not having good content = bad

And they say there is no good news coming out of Iraq…

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Hell hath no fury

… Like a bloggers scorn.

At least Gen. Pace has learned that today.

More than a few bloggers (here, here, here, here and here just to name a few of the more prominent ones) are jumping up and down on the Chairman for his remarks that “homosexuality is immoral.” He blamed cited his Christian upbringing as the source of his statement.

I am extremely disappointed.

First, I may be wrong (I am Jewish), but I thought I remember that Jesus saying something to the effect of he who is without sin casting the first stone.

Second, since when is it the role of the CJCS to be America’s moral cheerleader? His job is to fight and win wars, not lecture us on morality. If he had a relevant comment about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and unit cohesion, that is one thing. (Personal aside, I think DADT is stupid and gays should be allowed to serve openly. And my general feeling is that most milbloggers don’t give a damn if there are gays in the military.)

I found a comment by a former Soldier posted to a Chicago Tribune blog to be especially poignant:

In the immortal words of my drill sergeant way back in 1980, “Who the —- died and left YOU God?!” I spent 8 years in the Army, 3 on active duty and 5 in the reserves, ending my career as a reserve drill instructor. I left the Army, reluctantly, in order to come out and, in the “moral” sense, to stop having to lie and lie and lie every day of my service.

I knew many gay and lesbian soldiers, enlisted, warrant and officer alike, I knew the late Sgt. Perry Watkins who achieved a landmark victory in 1991 against the Army’s gay ban, and it’s a crying shame that this kind of deliberate ignorance still prevails. Keep in mind that this Pace character is a Marine, not regular Army, and his comments lend credence to the canard that the USMC is our least intelligent service. Not too bright, Pete.

I live in NYC metro and work in high-tech and am constantly being recruited by companies based in Chicago and the Midwest. Many of the comments posted on this site regarding this issue remind me why I will not relocate my family to the Midwest for any reason. Your loss, our gain. In the meantime, as good Christians, my gay husband and I will pray for your enlightenment. As for Gen. Pace, he should be immediately relieved of his position and put to work emptying the bedpans of wounded gay veterans.

As much as I disagree with you, General, you are free to think what you want. The bottom line, however, is that you are a public figure and your comments stepped over the line.

So this is what you get. Take a look at what your fans at Perez Hilton created:

A million people saw that picture today, Mr. Chairman.

Welcome to the blogosphere.

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So remember how I said that OSD needs to devote more resources to online communications?

An anonymous little birdie (thanks for the tip) informed me that OSD is staffing up its new media practice with new hires who specialize in online communications.

I found the job announcement here on USA Jobs for anyone who is interested.

I haven’t had much time to review it, but part of it troubles me. Organizationally, it appears that this new position falls under AFIS — the Armed Forces Information Service, which has historically been the internal communication arm of the Department of Defense. The internet got lumped in with them because public affairs didn’t know where else to put it.

In reality, the internet must be looked at as a virtual an interactive outreach tool, not simply an additional platform for posting command information stories.

Still, nice to see that new media is getting the resources it very much needs.

For those who were wondering, no I am not applying for the job. I am perfectly happy where I am right now. (Although it looks like this newly posted job pays very well.)

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From Argghhh, I came across an interesting post from Intel Dump about the civil-military divide and ROTC programs being key to bridging the gap between those who understand the military and those who aren’t a part of that world.

Read his post. It makes good points, but expanding ROTC in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City isn’t going to solve the problem — especially when college cliques would create microcosmic insular communities within the broader university structure.

The great thing about the Web is that it allows for outreach that extends beyond traditional physical barriers. I recently wrote about this concept.

As long as the military is clustered around a few military bases, connecting with the rest of America will continue to be a challenge. The DoD needs to devote more resources to online outreach.

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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.


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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