Wednesday, April 28, 2010

FS Blog: As Some Blogs Go Private, “The Slow Move East” Goes Public

Free speech has a timeboxImage by hey skinny via Flickr
This blog has been around a while but until recently has been a closed blog. Written by an “Arkansan on the move,” who is also an admitted Type A personality seeking temporary residence abroad. Looking for challenging work, intellectual stimulation, and good stories. Aquarian,” the blog sports a straight forward disclaimer:
The views and opinion I express are my own and do not in any way reflect those of the U.S. Government or any of its agencies or officials. All the information and materials I present, or link to, are in the public sphere and are fair game for public comment.

Her recent post,
Going Public, or How I Learned to Manage My Healthy Awareness of Diplomatic Security caught my attention and made me wonder if we are at the start of a wave of the coming Generation Next in the FS.  As Gen Next comes of age in the old bureaucracy (established in 1789 and almost as old as this country) they will be crucial in dragging this organization in words and deeds into the 21st century. It’s worth watching …

Excerpt from HD | The Slow Move East:

After seeing the shaming of a new FSO last January over her public blog, I've been thinking a lot about going public with this site, and what that might mean for me.

The simplest thing, of course, is that DS or Management just tells me to shut this down, with no further consequences.  That has happened to a few of my friends who maintained sites that were little more than travel blogs - certainly no policy discussions.  I don't intend to weigh in much on the most pressing issues of FS life (like Digger admirably does) or the greater scope of State policy (such as Diplopundit does).  Frankly, I'm not experienced enough in State to be able to pick up on a lot of the nuances of the debates that rage on other, bigger blogs.  And I'm certainly not a subject matter expert in a technical field, like Madam Le Consul, so I doubt that any of my posts will catch my superiors' eyes.

The shakedown of FSO Rookie really struck me as emblematic of the battle between the Old School State people and the newbies in the Department.  I certainly don't want to disparage the old hands, who have knowledge and experience that will take me years to accumulate.  However, I think that things have changed in the Department, and those of us in the new generation don't have quite the same point of view that our superiors have on a number of FS traditions.  This job is wonderful, but it's not the only thing in my life - I'm not sacrificing my sanity and my personal life to uphold the self-imposed ideal of a US diplomat.  As programs like Pickering, PMF, and Rangel bring in a younger, more technologically connected, and more diverse set of FSOs, the face of our diplomatic corps is changing, as is our attitude towards the work-life balance, the way that we interact with and engage the world, and the values we hold dear.

This is a long way of saying that I'm opening up this blog as a way to stake out my position on free speech for federal employees and our right to talk about our lives in a mature, logical way online.  I understand the need to stay on message and the need to be secure.  Neither of those concerns should preclude me from writing generally about my job, its benefits and difficulties, and the joys and struggles of living overseas as an American with an unusual position in my host country's society.

1 comment:

hannah said...

Thanks for the shoutout! I think it's only fair to say that I blatantly copied-and-pasted the disclaimer from another FS blog - TSB, I believe. Keep up your good work as the Dean of the Blogomatic Corps!