The development of new technology has spawned different ideas and new approaches to engaging with people around the world. One such development is the ability to approach public diplomacy based on the methodology employed in the production of open-source software. This approach provides the means to engage with communities of other concerned actors, communicatae through human voices, place emphasis on understanding lessons from previous initiatives, and vitally engage on the bases of the interests of those communities. Ideas can no longer be seen as owned by a country; mass communication provides the means to see beyond national claims of unity. Recognizing this and embracing the means to engage with communities that are defined by ideology rather than physical borders provides the potential to render public diplomacy initiatives more relevant to the target audience and ultimately more influential.
In the last decade public diplomacy has become one of the most important concepts in the development and implementation of foreign policy.
Trials of Engagement: The Future of US Public Diplomacy, with contributors from leading scholars in disciplines from international relations to communications, considers the challenges for this ‘new’ public diplomacy, especially as it is pursued by the US Government. It highlights the challenges of aligning policy and projection, overcoming bureaucratic tensions, and the language used by public diplomats. Most importantly, the volume illustrates that the issues for public diplomacy are more than those of a producer seeking to win the hearts and minds of passive ‘audiences’.
Trials of Engagement portrays public diplomacy as an increasingly public project. To overcome the trials of engagement, public diplomacy must provide more than a rhetorical nod to a “two-way” process. Ultimately, a collaborative public diplomacy must be built on a broad understanding of those involved, the recognition of stakeholders as peers, and effective interaction with networks made up of traditional and new interlocutors.