As 2017 comes to a close, the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program invites you to join us as we celebrate and reflect over an exciting year marked by thoughtful, constructive discussions on a range of issues. The following “2017 Year In Review” series offers highlights from the various programs as well as insight into 2018 programming. For more information, please visit our homepage and or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.
Currently, networks are the dominant form of organization in the world, and their importance cannot be ignored in global affairs and diplomacy. With 1.86 billion users, social networks like Facebook have enormous power and influence.
The Aspen Institute Communications & Society Program, in association with the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, convened the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Diplomacy and Technology in Aspen, Colorado in the summer of 2017. The biennial conference focused on the topic of “Diplomacy in the Age of Networks.” Roundtable participants from various fields of technology, government, and not-for-profit groups, among others, gathered to explore the use of network principles to serve diplomatic interests.
The Dialogue discussion began with defining networks, addressing how they gain power, and examining their role in international affairs. Session discussions then explored the viruses of ideology, also known as the “bad meme” or memetic warfare. With large-scale cyber intrusions and allegations of foreign powers interfering with U.S. politics via social media, networks that were once revered by American citizens are now seen in a less positive light.
It is evident that networks have an impact on global affairs. While the risks of disruption from foreign opponents are apparent, there are also opportunities for diplomats to use networks to further their mission and maintain, or restore, order in society. The report from the 2017 Dialogue on Diplomacy and Technology will be published later this winter. For more information about the Dialogue on Diplomacy and Technology, or other Communications and Society Projects, please visit our website at csreports.aspeninstitute.org.