Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Quickie: The trouble with Twitter and cake diplomacy

Twitter bird logo icon illustrationImage by Matt Hamm via Flickr
Brian Whitaker writes for the Guardian about the trouble with Twitter: "As the sacking of a CNN journalist for a tweet on an ayatollah's death has shown, it's hard to convey nuance in 140 characters." State Department officials mentioned by TSB here, also got special billing in the article: 
Two tech-savvy State Department officials recently travelled in a delegation to Syria to discuss IT issues.

"I'm not kidding when I say I just had the greatest frappuccino ever," one of them tweeted during the trip. Another tweet talked about challenging a Syrian government minister to a cake-eating contest.

For some, this was shocking evidence that the officials were getting far too matey with the Syrians but their boss, Hillary Clinton, doesn't seem much troubled. To her mind, it's all part of "21st century statecraft".

Not that there's anything very new about it, really: it's just one side of a diplomat's life that we're not accustomed to seeing. Diplomats have always fraternised to some extent with "the enemy" and journalists, for their part, have always had opinions about the things they cover. We're kidding ourselves if we pretend that they don't, so why not be up-front about it? Twitter, though, may not always be the best place to do it.

Read the whole thing here.

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