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Ranch State and CitizenSpace: Digital Democracy and Web Strategies for the United States and the United Kingdom
Unformatted Document Text:  14 the State Department felt increasingly isolated. “On many specific issues, they [the public] knew more about problems that confront the United States than do our government officials” (Stimson Report, 1998). At the same time, the Public Diplomacy report to President Clinton recommended that public diplomacy, or the “understanding, informing, and influencing of foreign publics in American foreign policy” (US AC Report on Public Diplomacy, 1998) be elevated to an National Security Council (NSC) priority. Efforts to not only be aware of the importance of foreign publics as well as connections with the American people were gaining new salience. In a series of interviews conducted by CSIS during 1997, one foreign policy expert was quoted as saying, “There is a major communication gap between the traditional foreign policy establishment and the American public.” (CSIS report, 1998, p. 132). This sounds a bit different than previous public opinion scholarship on the relationship between foreign policy and the American public. After the merging of USIA and the Department of State – the functionality of the Department’s websites was reevaluated. In 1998, the Center for Strategic and International Studies Report on Diplomacy in the Information Age suggested that the State Department website could go beyond its earlier mission as a disseminator of policy positions – and expand its functionality to serve as a “forum for the engagement of American citizens.” To do this, however, the site would need to have more “sophisticated management”, and it would have to be perceived as a “tool for policy development, not just as an instrument of one-way communication. Feedback…[could] be invited through the Internet in a variety of ways including on-line discussions and reactions by E-mail” (CSIS Report 1998, p. 67). This discussion could have had serious impacts on the formation of ICT policy for the State Department after its merger with the USIA and the implementation of its ALMA Project (to revamp its entire IT network). The website could have been a natural locus for seeing the convergence of ICT policy and public diplomacy directives take shape. As discourse researcher Jay Lemke wrote on websites reflecting organizational mission, “[The website] is the microcosm

Authors: Hayden, Craig.
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the State Department felt increasingly isolated. “On many specific issues, they [the public] knew
more about problems that confront the United States than do our government officials” (Stimson
Report, 1998).
At the same time, the Public Diplomacy report to President Clinton recommended that
public diplomacy, or the “understanding, informing, and influencing of foreign publics in
American foreign policy” (US AC Report on Public Diplomacy, 1998) be elevated to an National
Security Council (NSC) priority. Efforts to not only be aware of the importance of foreign publics
as well as connections with the American people were gaining new salience. In a series of
interviews conducted by CSIS during 1997, one foreign policy expert was quoted as saying,
“There is a major communication gap between the traditional foreign policy establishment and
the American public.” (CSIS report, 1998, p. 132). This sounds a bit different than previous
public opinion scholarship on the relationship between foreign policy and the American public.
After the merging of USIA and the Department of State – the functionality of the
Department’s websites was reevaluated. In 1998, the Center for Strategic and International
Studies Report on Diplomacy in the Information Age suggested that the State Department website
could go beyond its earlier mission as a disseminator of policy positions – and expand its
functionality to serve as a “forum for the engagement of American citizens.” To do this, however,
the site would need to have more “sophisticated management”, and it would have to be perceived
as a “tool for policy development, not just as an instrument of one-way communication.
Feedback…[could] be invited through the Internet in a variety of ways including on-line
discussions and reactions by E-mail” (CSIS Report 1998, p. 67).
This discussion could have had serious impacts on the formation of ICT policy for the
State Department after its merger with the USIA and the implementation of its ALMA Project (to
revamp its entire IT network). The website could have been a natural locus for seeing the
convergence of ICT policy and public diplomacy directives take shape. As discourse researcher
Jay Lemke wrote on websites reflecting organizational mission, “[The website] is the microcosm


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