Mknac’s Weblog

Diving into the shallow pool of Web 2.0 and Social Media head first!

Milblogs; From the front to your PC

I’ve looked at several milbogs over the last couple days and have been generally impressed with the writing and coverage of diverse issues.  If you are looking for information about what’s going on try the perspective of one of our soldiers.  Its certainly different than what the media is telling you.

 

Coverage of conflict zones has changed significantly since WWI and the new globally connected Internet era that we live in has changed how we get information about the conflict in the Middle East and else where significantly. Unlike WWI during WWII the combat photographer and other government motion and still photographers brought the front lines to the home front during the war.  In Vietnam you saw a shift from government combat photographers to media reporters in the battlefield such as Dan Rather for example.

 

Now in 2008 although the media attempts to cover the war there are certain things and dangerous areas that they choose not to cover.  In many areas bloggers are filling in these gaps.  Military bloggers are covering stories, areas, and other topics that weren’t even considered during the Persian Gulf War of the 1990s.  The landscape of reporting from the front lines has changed due to blogging.

 

Milblogs is the term used for service members who blog.  Using web 2.0 and other social media platforms today’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are blogging about their experiences in the military and specifically about their tours of duty in combat zones such as Iraq.  The old war news reels that were shown to audiences in movie theaters helped to promote the agenda of the nation and kept everyone informed about what was going on in the European and Pacific theaters.  News from the government, for the government and by the government was the generally the way of the times although the press certainly did their share of reporting also.  It is also important to remember that in WWII news was always delayed by from several days to several weeks.  Vietnam had a much quicker turn around but sometimes stories were still delayed a day or today.

 

Today in the era of global Internet-based communications news from the war zone is available almost as soon and soldiers return from a mission.  Military bloggers are bringing stories of the conflicts the U.S. is engaged into the homes of anybody with a computer and Internet connection.  If you are interested there many milblogs to choose from and new milbogs coming online every day. These bloggers are going out and conducting dangerous missions and then blogging about them soon after their return.  These bloggers sometimes include photos and video that they took.

 

I think this level of interaction with our service members is good for our country.  It is important that those of us not in the military and not engaged in the conflict remain connected to those who wear our nation’s uniform.  The public needs to know what is really going on in these areas and who is better positioned to tell you than those on the ground where the rubber meets the road?  Additionally an added benefit is that blogging allows soldiers to stay in touch with their families and friends giving them and us insight to what daily life is like is like in the sandbox.

 

Some milbogs if you’re interested:

American Soldier 

The Long War Journal 

Kaboom: A Soldier’s War Journal

The Thunder Run 

Army of Dude

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July 21, 2008 Posted by | social media | , , , , | Leave a comment

Bloggers in North Korea…NOT

I recently visited Global Voices Online to try to get a taste of international blogging.  My assignment was to pick a country that started with the fist letter of my first or last name and check out the blogging going on there.

Korean Peninsula

Korean Peninsula

After looking at the list of available countries I found one I thought would be interesting and that I had an interest in; North Korea.  My first assignment in the Army as a young second lieutenant was the Republic of South Korea.  My experiences there changed my life and my world viewpoint.  I’ve always maintained an interest and followed events in and around the Korean peninsula ever since.

The first thing I realized was that there weren’t any North Korean bloggers.  There are people blogging about North Korea, South Korea and the greater Pacific Rim but no North Korean bloggers.  I guess that this didn’t really surprise me or should it surprise anybody else.  Given North Korea’s secret communist political system I doubt the last thing the government wants is information from the average citizen being broadcast around the world.  However, I can’t imagine that there isn’t somebody secretly blogging from within North Korea defying the government.  If there is I couldn’t find them. If you know of any let me know.

The blogs that I did find covered current events and some long simmering issues. Bloggers are still talking about the Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea in the 1970’s and 1980’s and their lack of repatriation.  North Korean nuclear weapons is a on-going topic.  The up-coming Olympics in China are also popular.  A long standing women’s issue, abucted women used as sexual comfort slaves by the Japanese army during World War II had an extensive blog with many uploaded videos about the plight of these women.

Perhaps I should have chosen a country with more activity that would have been easier to blog about.  But from a larger perspective I think the fact that a country has no bloggers in 2008 is a story all by itself much larger than a country that has a million bloggers.

A little side trip:
Many people don’t realize it but the U.S. and North Korea are still technically at war as only an armistice was signed that ended the fighting during the Korean Conflict; not a peace treaty that would have ended the war. (Korean Armistice Agreement) Although the Korean Conflict was started by the north I never understood why a peace treaty was never signed.  I understand that everyone was happy when the armistice ended the fighting and it was time to “cutta” as we used to say in 2nd Infantry Division.  (Cutta is Korean slang for Cutta-chogie; lets get the hell out of here.)  But you would think that some 60 years after the end of the fighting that somebody could have re-visted the armistice and suggested a peace treaty.  The U.S. has had treaties with countries with all kinds of varying forms of government to include communist governments.  Why not North Korea?  Yes I know they’ve burned us on agreements in the past.

I can’t help but think that some (certainly not all) of the international issues with North Korea could have been avoided if an actual peace treaty was signed, even if it was only 20 years ago.  A peace treaty might end some of North Korea’s paranoia about being attacked and allow it to act like a nation state in the global community rather than a rabid dog trying to protect a bone.   I wonder what might be avoided in the future if a peace treaty was signed in the next couple years…

July 10, 2008 Posted by | social media | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blogs; changing business communications?

The blogosphereIn “Naked Conversations,” by Robert Schoble and Shel Israel, they advocate that blogging is changing the way business approaches communications on all levels.  The title “Naked Conversations” refers to the transparency of corporate blogging with their customer rather than hiding behind politically correct corporate speak, PR lingo, or buzz words.  The authors claim that honest straight forward conversations with customers and other stake holders are the trend of communications and benefit both parties.

They cite many examples of companies that have successfully used blogs and where a blog may have helped a company during a crisis communications situation.  Two examples that stick in my mind are Microsoft and Kryptonite.  Mainly because I use many Microsoft products and being a cyclist I used a Kryptonite lock at one time.

In the Microsoft example Schoble and Israel show how through blogging Microsoft was able to shed or seriously diminish the “evil empire” reputation Microsoft had acquired of many years.  When customers, suppliers and contractors where engaged with individual bloggers within Microsoft they came to know the individual employees working on different projects with different goals, objectives and problems.  Before Microsoft started blogging people just thought every employee as part of machine.  Afterwards they were people.

Kryptonite on the other had a very negative experience as they got steamrolled by bloggers.  Kryptonite was a leading manufacturer of bicycle locks.  A customer with a serious issue called the company to tell them about a design flaw in one of their most popular locks.  After not receiving a response he post directions on popular on-line bike forums about how to pick the locks with a Bic pen.   The directions spread to more widely read blogs.  The company, unaware of the blogosphere, worked in a traditional communications strategy.

Schoble and Israel state “By ignoring the blogosphere, Kryptonite gave millions of people the impression that the company had neither sympathy nor remedy for its customers.”  Eventually a video of how the pick the lock ended up on the blogosphere.  A little over a week after the first posting of the issue Kryptonite announced that it would replace all “Bic-pickable” locks at an estimated cost of $10 million.  If Kryptonite had been engaged in the blogsphere and the cycling community knew they were working on the problem could the outcome have been different?  We’ll never know but I suspect Kryptonite’s customers would have been less critical in this situation if they had engaged their customers through blogging.  Kryptonite had huge customer loyalty that was quickly lost when customers believed the company was treating them indifferently.  (I no longer use a Kryptonite lock myself.)

I believe that blogs are a powerful communications tools and that government, NGOs, and business will begin using blogs to communicate directly and more effectively with customers and stakeholders.  I do feel that blogging rather than wiping out communications practices will become one more tool in the savvy communicator’s bag that he or she will use to get messages out rather than replacing what we view as traditional communications practices today.

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The picture of the blogosphere is courtesy Matthew Hurst.

For an explanation of Matthew’s picture see “Map: Welcome to the Blogosphere” by Stephen Ornes.

June 26, 2008 Posted by | social media | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blogs Blogging and Bloggers is there a rhyme or reason?

I had time to reflect today upon my fledgling blog and those of my classmates. What I noticed is that many of our blogs to include mine, although new, weren’t focused on one subject that we may be or hope to be an SME in. My blog’s first three entries covered an assignment, some of the reasons I don’t like or consume traditional news media products and brushless electric motors for RC car racing. That last one sure diverged from the first two.
So what is the purpose of this blog? Although I mentioned this in my “about me” link generally as a graduate student at Georgetown University working on a masters degree in Public Relations and taking a social media class, social media and the digital disruption, this blog is for me to experiment with blogging and other Web 2.0 and 3.0 platforms. The hope is that I’ll learn to understand how to incorporate Web 2.0 into my various communications functions in the work environment.
So between blog assignments for class I’ll blog about what ever things or events of interest I come across throughout this semester. So if my posts seem a bit random they will be. The good news is you won’t know what’s over the next hill. So stay tuned.

June 10, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment