Hot, Flat and Shrouded


Global Diplomacy Materializes From Decentralized Social Media


In his best-selling book The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman notes fundamental changes at the intersection of emerging technology and human behavior that have enabled massive 21st century globalization. Among them are collaborative Web technologies, the ability to discover an abundance of information, and personal digital devices like iPods and BlackBerries. The surfacing of such inventions has led to changes not only in running businesses, but also in organizing movements. As billions saw last year, a relatively untried junior senator from Illinois rose to become the leader of the free world. But in a flat world, you don’t need to be a senator to lead a tribe, and you don’t need to be powerful to become a household name.

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4 Responses

  1. I’ve written about combining sensor data with social data using semantic web technologies in order to extract better intelligence

  2. Fine analysis. You’ve identified the exact confluence of factors that pioneering, early social media theorist and unintentional mentor Howard Rheingold described as a “merger of knowledge capital, social capital and communion.”

    It’s these factors – rather than some radically novel or disruptive (yet widely available) technology that make possible the sort of collective action (and even emergent group behaviors) that Clay Shirky and others have suggested are, in effect, the ultimate manifestation of virtual social collaboration.

    Just as we discussed at our Government 2.0 Camp panel back in March, whether it’s the guy in Antananarivo Madagascar you referenced (who used Twitter to get the word out that the government there *wasn’t* being overthrown), or Colombian Oscar Morales, whom I referenced, using Facebook to create the 1 Million Voices Against the FARC movement, (which has since inspired any number of other democracy movements around the world), governments who ignore the geopolitical impact of social technologies as instruments of soft power do so at their peril.

  1. July 25, 2009

    […] Advisor and Research Fellow at the National Defense University, has written a fantastic article in Washington Life called Hot, Flat and Shrouded. In it, Drapeau focuses on the rise of social media and its ability […]

  2. June 12, 2011

    […] 2.0 ultimately so exciting. Something like Crisis Camp Haiti was incredibly significant. The use of social media to publicize the Iranian elections and other global issues is significant in a different way. There are other useful examples of […]

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