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Ranch State and CitizenSpace: Digital Democracy and Web Strategies for the United States and the United Kingdom
Unformatted Document Text:  22 “strategic equity” is better achieved through the manipulation of states images and reputation. Brand states will compete with each other, as well as other important global actors like multinational corporations and religious organizations in terms of image and message. The new job for diplomats, according to Hayden and van Ham, is to engage in “brand asset management” and to find “brand niches for their state, engage in competitive marketing, assure customer satisfaction and create brand loyalty.” (Fisher-Thompson, 2001). Hayden’s address was also aimed at the development of the State Department web presence. Rather than talking about foreign policy goals themselves and their formation, Hayden instead offered sound marketing advice, emphasizing that the Department should have a clear knowledge of its goals, base decisions for content and changes in the Website on “user feedback”, and centralize coordination of the website standards under a “Web czar” (Fisher-Thompson, 2001). Rather that exploring new paradigms of political participation with the medium of the Web, Hayden’s recommendations exemplified the existing trends towards utilizing the Web as an “electronic sales brochure” (Nash & Greenstein, 1997) for the American government, its images, and values abroad. The emphasis on “branding” for nearly all aspects of the Department advocated by the conference lead one Washington File writer to call the conference a sign of the new “Ranch State” Department. This mentality is not confined to the conference speakers. As one foreign-service officer stated, “Because the Internet has made information a free commodity, we no longer score points for providing it. We add value only be customizing information and making it recipient specific”(Matel, 2002). Again we see a target-audience, customer-service approach model that has infiltrated its way to the highest levels of U.S. government ICT policy. Given that the shift in online web presence policy seems to be steering away from a participatory, communitarian model at the level of national foreign policy – is there recourse for digital democracy in foreign affairs? Much research has explored how concerned citizens and activists have circumvented state-based communication structures through ICTs to enact policy change around the world.

Authors: Hayden, Craig.
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“strategic equity” is better achieved through the manipulation of states images and reputation.
Brand states will compete with each other, as well as other important global actors like
multinational corporations and religious organizations in terms of image and message. The new
job for diplomats, according to Hayden and van Ham, is to engage in “brand asset management”
and to find “brand niches for their state, engage in competitive marketing, assure customer
satisfaction and create brand loyalty.” (Fisher-Thompson, 2001).
Hayden’s address was also aimed at the development of the State Department web
presence. Rather than talking about foreign policy goals themselves and their formation, Hayden
instead offered sound marketing advice, emphasizing that the Department should have a clear
knowledge of its goals, base decisions for content and changes in the Website on “user feedback”,
and centralize coordination of the website standards under a “Web czar” (Fisher-Thompson,
2001). Rather that exploring new paradigms of political participation with the medium of the
Web, Hayden’s recommendations exemplified the existing trends towards utilizing the Web as an
“electronic sales brochure” (Nash & Greenstein, 1997) for the American government, its images,
and values abroad. The emphasis on “branding” for nearly all aspects of the Department
advocated by the conference lead one Washington File writer to call the conference a sign of the
new “Ranch State” Department. This mentality is not confined to the conference speakers. As one
foreign-service officer stated, “Because the Internet has made information a free commodity, we
no longer score points for providing it. We add value only be customizing information and
making it recipient specific”(Matel, 2002). Again we see a target-audience, customer-service
approach model that has infiltrated its way to the highest levels of U.S. government ICT policy.
Given that the shift in online web presence policy seems to be steering away from a
participatory, communitarian model at the level of national foreign policy – is there recourse for
digital democracy in foreign affairs? Much research has explored how concerned citizens and
activists have circumvented state-based communication structures through ICTs to enact policy
change around the world.


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