Topic: Public Diplomacy

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Blog post included here have used #Public Diplomacy in their title

I’ve been reading a prominent French social anthropologist, Alain TESTART. His critical analysis of the concept of “gift”[1...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
51 weeks 4 days ago View original post.

I have been reading too much on persuasion, these days, and I have even done some pontificating on the subject matter. It is only while reading on humanity’s Pan Ancestor,[1] however, that I have to come to realize the complexity hiding behind the concept of “persuasion”.

Meat-eating apes (chimpanzee, bonobos, and...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 1 week ago View original post.

For the reflective man

Is the creation simply a circle of greed?

The ocean is certainly not agitated

By fish flashing about

BHARTRI-HARI

In 1706, the Numunu moved from the west to the...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 2 weeks ago View original post.

“Past performance is no indicator of future success” is a warning attached to many financial products that are hawked in the Street. Few people pay any attention to the warning. In fact, “past performance” is the basis of meritocracy. The (predictable) outcome is the Peter Principle. The Peter Principle is a proposition stating that the members of an organization where promotion...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 3 weeks ago View original post.

“Sophie reveals her deepest, darkest secret: on the night that she arrived at Auschwitz, a sadistic doctor made her choose which of her two children would die immediately by gassing and which would continue to live, albeit in the camp. Of her two children, Sophie chose to sacrifice her seven-year-old daughter, Eva, in a heart-rending decision that has left her in mourning and filled with...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 5 weeks ago View original post.

(A history of war in two easy pages including an outlook on its future)

Hunter-gatherers only had portable goods. Raiding between such groups was probably for women and children – their main “wealth”.

Agriculture led to durable stocks (food and artifacts). Neighbors raided each other for them. Extractive elites emerged to strike a (...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 6 weeks ago View original post.

And I alone am escaped to tell thee. JOB

A recent article[1] described an instance of internet virality and its consequences for the people involved:

“And then, on 5 March, Jason RUSSELL, working for the NGO Invisible Children,  released...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 6 weeks ago View original post.

On 2-3 March the Swiss voted on a “constitutional initiative” introducing changes in corporate governance. The voters obligate the legislative to create laws or rules within a substantive framework.

Here, the “constructive” mandate aims to put an end to “corporate rip-off” – instances where management is either over-rewarded for good performance or receives a “golden handshake”...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 6 weeks ago View original post.

In 213, I have commented on the Italian elections. Meanwhile, a friend of mine has suggested to me signing a “petition” on the future of the country. http://www.change.org – “the world’s petition platform” – sent me 9 similar petitions. I perused them:

...
Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 7 weeks ago View original post.

For two thousand years, we have read the Greek classics. We have done so in a peculiar fashion. Their gods were central to their worldview. We discarded their gods, which we despised as mere idols. In doing so, we’ve lost much of the deeper meaning that attached to the gods. We have misread the Greeks. What did the Greeks mean with this ongoing interference of the gods from on high?

...
Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 7 weeks ago View original post.

(a true fairy tale)

There was strife among the Pakicetus[1] – 50 million years ago or so. The older generation dreaded a future about to destroy the very population of Pakicetus and its values. Relativism was sundering cherished traditions. Some liked living on land

...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 7 weeks ago View original post.

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Lev TOLSTOY

Societies evolve. We have no idea of how it happens, but in a short time societies can be transformed.

In the XVIth century, the Soshone of the Great Plains of North America migrated east in response to climate...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 7 weeks ago View original post.

Italy has voted. And the winner is….the people! I’d say.

Do not let blinkered pundits lead you astray. The people’s message is: “Think out of the box”. The electoral vote is a classic case of “unexpected outcome” – the stuff of emergent complex systems – that forces politicians (and pundits as well as pilot fish) to change paradigm.

Here, the main results (in million votes...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 8 weeks ago View original post.

An Oxford Don (or Doña? – since my friend Bi is a lady) called me up the other day: she had been asked up to participate in a seminar on “Translation and Language in the Media”. She asked me for my three-penny worth of opinion.

I laughed out loud.

Ever since DERRIDA argued “’There is nothing outside the text” academia is obsessed with what may be lost in the text...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 8 weeks ago View original post.

The vagueness of the concept

If you want to be a public intellectual in the US, find the catchy turn of phrase and then beat the chicken-mint peas-mashed potatoes circuit with it, writing op-eds in the NYTimes on week-ends to uplifting effect. The “catchy phrase” best be vague and fuzzy: empty vessels resonate best. Like patent medicine it guarantees...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 9 weeks ago View original post.

Let’s recall the definition of game theory as applied to international relations: “Game theory assumes each state is a unitary actor concerned about promoting its national interests, and rationally calculates the payoffs associated with various options (moves); the payoff from a given move will depend on the move taken by the other player(s).”...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 13 weeks ago View original post.

I’ve vented my prejudices against “theory” in the past (see my http://wp.me/p81We-xh ). For one, the term “theory” seems to me perilously fuzzy. Here two definitions I got off the net[1]:

1.        a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 13 weeks ago View original post.

International meetings can be drudgery – we all know that. Most interventions are idle points for “home consumption”- or beside the point. Oversized egos show off his ignorance of the issues, or vent their prejudices. The rest is convention, mainstream, cliché. You know…

How to survive? My survival tactic was to slide single pages of poetry – haikus, sonnets, anything short...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 14 weeks ago View original post.

Prof. Maureen O’HARA, Department of Economics, at Cornell University, recently blew my mind away (not that there was much of it, so it created no more than a small dust-devil). As she was about graciously to receive her honorary doctorate from Berne University she explained to an evenfall gathering some of her work on stock market transactions.

Taken as a time line, stock...

1 year 15 weeks ago View original post.

Prof. Maureen O’HARA, Department of Economics, at Cornell University, recently blew my mind away (not that there was much of it, so it created no more than a small dust-devil). As she was about graciously to receive her honorary doctorate from Berne University she explained to an evenfall gathering some of her work on stock market transactions.

Taken as a time line, stock...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 15 weeks ago View original post.

Justice is predicated on guilt/innocence of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. It is steeped in the view of personal autonomy and individual responsibility. Justice is grounded in the paradigm that the sleuths of justice may solve the puzzle underpinning the crime and assign responsibility.

What to do with mysteries – criminal situations where it is inherently...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 18 weeks ago View original post.

Popular belief long held that one could steal a person’s soul (and hold him/her in one’s power) by casting a spell over something that belonged to the victim. Witchcraft the world over is predicated on such stealing of hair, nails, or making a puppet resembling the person. It is the powerless’ dream of ultimate power as well as projection of his fear of the infinite forces that hold him...

1 year 20 weeks ago View original post.

Popular belief long held that one could steal a person’s soul (and hold him/her in one’s power) by casting a spell over something that belonged to the victim. Witchcraft the world over is predicated on such stealing of hair, nails, or making a puppet resembling the person. It is the powerless’ dream of ultimate power as well as projection of his fear of the infinite forces that hold him...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 20 weeks ago View original post.

I’ve come across a substantial study of European perceptions of “Asia”[1]. It is one of numerous similar studies as background to the ASEM process[2].

According to this study, research on perceptions is not concerned with the study of “facts as such” as with the...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 21 weeks ago View original post.

Cohesion within a group of monkeys is maintained through reciprocal grooming. Studies of captive monkeys have shown that grooming makes them more relaxed, reducing their heart rate as well as other external signs of stress. They sometimes become so relaxed that they fall asleep. In fact, we now know that grooming stimulates the production of the body’s natural opiates, the endorphins; in...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 22 weeks ago View original post.

The Brookings Institution has published a long review article on eDiplomacy at the US State Department[1]. Much of the report is factual, interesting, but is not going to transform diplomacy. Electronic means will be useful instruments in disseminating information, raising awareness, and all the humdrum things that make up “public...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 22 weeks ago View original post.

I’ve asked a US diplomat friend of mine what his experience had been with Facebook as a tool in diplomacy. Here is his answer: “we had good results with Facebook outreach to Palestinians and Israeli Arabs on business, economic, social and technology issues.”

There are a few interesting lessons to glean from this short statement.

The most important one in my view is that it...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 22 weeks ago View original post.

Jovan has commented recently on the name tags people wear around their necks when they attend a meeting http://bit.ly/SDO5C2 . He looked at it from the practical point yield “usability”. Jovan’s point is wholly valid. Tag design should aim foremost to being useful, i.e. to allow easy identification among participants – and security people.

...
Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 23 weeks ago View original post.

More than specific technologies it is our “habits of thought” – our “mentality” – which allows societies to advance in understanding reality of a broad front. Around 1250 such a change in mentality took hold in Europe. We never looked back. What happened?

One view is that: “Western Europeans evolved a new way, more purely visual and quantitative than the old, of perceiving...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 23 weeks ago View original post.

Thomas C. SCHELLING won the 2005 “Nobel” Prize in Economics for his “having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis”. In fact, much of his work found immediate application in arms control planning, in particular the use of nuclear weapons as deterrent. Unsurprisingly, his Lecture deals with 60 years of living with strategic and...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 24 weeks ago View original post.

Before the UN General Assembly PM Benyamin NETANYAHU has argued that the UN should “red-line” Iran. The country should face the foreseeable threat of foreign military intervention, should its nuclear capability reach inadmissible levels. Is this a sensible diplomatic tactic?

 ...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 25 weeks ago View original post.

Our hunter/gatherer ancestors had say 300 SKU (stock keeping units) – the managerial term for kinds of worldly goods. In New York City alone the SKU is well over 10 billion nowadays[1]. If you think nature is multifarious, think again: we have probably created more cultural objects in 10’000 years than nature has created...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 25 weeks ago View original post.

 

The Peace of Augsburg 1555, and then the Peace of Westphalia (1648) marked the end of common rules that would apply across emergent national states in Europe. Henceforth each state was autocratic within and autonomous without. The border was the boundary delimitating the internal and external fields of power – and by implication potential “friend” from “foe”. This boundary...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 26 weeks ago View original post.

When I first mentioned to a diplomatic friend my intention of writing a blog entry on “diplomats without borders” I was met with incredulity. “Diplomats are the peacetime gate keepers at the border! You can’t have diplomats without borders.”

Are borders “vital”? An interesting question – and one which is worth a short visit to Africa and its history, for Africa emerged from its...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 27 weeks ago View original post.

While writing up the blog entries on Positive Deviance (see my 175 and 176) I decided to read Isaiah BERLIN’s famous essay: Two concepts of liberty[1]. BERLIN’s discursive style is always a pleasure to read, though at times it feels meandering and imprecise. He is right, in my view, to be wary of “Procustations” –...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 27 weeks ago View original post.

In blog entry 178 I have provided an example of how we fail to see what’s obvious, if it does not fit our preconceived ideas. Before I move to ideologies currently at work in shaping what one may call the Zeitgeist – the spirit of our time – let me cast a look on the opposite process:...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 28 weeks ago View original post.

It’s obvious (and efficient): we humans communicate differences and presume commonalities.

When I speak I do not begin by explaining the extremely complex rules of grammar and syntax that underlie my sentences. How boring it would be for the listener about to struggle with the shower of my pearls of wisdom!

I assume that we share the rules and go on to apply them in order to...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 28 weeks ago View original post.
Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 29 weeks ago View original post.

Looking back through history - hegemons seem to have a propensity to fail. Why is it so?

There is no dearth of theories (I’d rather call them conjectures) in this regard. One set argues that hegemons crumble from within. Military/economic overstretch is blamed[1]. Another hypothesis is ideological...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 30 weeks ago View original post.

This announcement might be somewhat premature – but it looks as “longhand” may be going the way of the Dodo. Young children are being first taught to write in print, and then moved on to using the keyboard. Longhand is no longer taught in many schools (unless I presume, one goes to a deliberately old-fashioned school emphasizing the 3R). The next generation will sort itself out in “those...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 30 weeks ago View original post.

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