dropping science like galileo dropped the orange

aka How Open Source Media Got Its Name

almost exactly a year ago today the Defense Science Board recommended that the Department of Defense start infiltrating, among other things… blogs.

Because the US Military cannot legally spread propaganda within America the Science Board suggested that it get into paying off international tv, creating video games… and even sneaking into chat rooms to spread the good news of the US forces.

The Science Board stated:

Subcontracting to the commercial and academic sectors for a range of products and programs that communicate strategic themes and messages to appropriate target audiences. Broad themes and messages would include respect for human dignity and individual rights; for individual education and economic opportunity; and for personal freedom, safety, and mobility. Examples of products would be a children’s TV series (Arabic Sesame Street); video and interactive games; support for the distribution and production of selected foreign films; and Web communications including blogs, chat rooms, and electronic journals. (pg 67-68)

the Science Board suggested that DoD set up a Center for Strategic Communication at the price of $250 million a year …

The Center should receive core funding that supports steady state operations through a Congressional line item in the Department of State’s annual appropriation. Funds appropriated to the Center should be placed in a revolving fund in the U.S. Treasury without fiscal year limitation.

The Center’s core funding would support basic operations (staff and administration), information and analysis (polling, media research, cultural studies), maintenance of databases and skills inventories, and self-initiated projects and programs. The Task Force estimates that at least $100 million would be necessary to sustain the Center’s core mission and operations. An additional $150 million is recommended for projects and programs the Center would develop through contracts with the commercial and academic sectors as directed NSC’s Deputy Advisor for Strategic Communication. Additional funding for projects and programs would be provided through contracts and task orders from the Strategic Communication Committee’s departments and agencies. (p. 68)

This is a report that likens CNN with Al Jazeera as they attempt to persuade the DoD that the same digital technology that bit them in the ass at Abu Grhaib can be their tool if they only used it and bypassed traditional news channels…

Al Jazeera, CNN, and other television networks dominate discussion of the information and media environment. But a host of information technologies — in addition to satellite TV — are creating greater global transparency: cell phones, wireless handhelds, videophones, camcorders, digital cameras, miniaturized fly away units used by TV crews in remote locations, high resolution commercial space imaging, blogs, and email. Many are cheap; costs are declining.

These technologies have consequences for all three stakeholders in strategic communication: governments, media, and publics. Policymakers, diplomats, and military leaders face more breaking news from more places in a reactive mode.

Journalists rely less on “institutionally based news” (i.e., official sources, press conferences). Publics (i.e., NGOs, image activists, soldiers with digital cameras) can drive perceptions and policies with pictures and stories.

Transparency creates threats and opportunities – and changes in the strategy/tactics dynamic. Tactical events can instantly become strategic problems (digital cameras in Abu Ghraib). (p.19)

and the more the Science Board recommends, the more they suggest they increase the budgets regarding “public diplomacy”…

The Department’s current funding for public diplomacy (approximately $600 million), is substantially less in real terms than public diplomacy budgets during the Cold War.

When combined with the BBG’s international broadcasting budget (also approximately $600 million) the public diplomacy budget totals $1.2 billion. The Task Force recommends the Department’s public diplomacy funding be increased to $1.8 billion resulting in a total public diplomacy budget of $2.4 billion.

In addition the BBG has requested increases in funding. The Task Force also supports increased BBG funding for web based broadcasting services and those radio and television services where research and program reviews demonstrates significant audiences for news and public affairs programming.

So what does this have to do with the the web based broadcasting services of Pajamas Media? They’re an American company, and the law says you can’t spread propaganda in America.

Well, havent you ever wondered why exactly PM has “Fresh Baked Daily” from France, or articles about China being written by the PM “staff” in Barcelona? Or the Venezuelan elections being covered by the PM “staff” in Sydney? One might assume that once those offices are properly staffed – enough, say, to actually give these staffers real bylines with trivial things like their name – instead of pretending something other than what is probably the case which is it’s one dude in Barcelona or one chickie in Sydney – they would be able to deliver their propaganda while not physically being located in the USA where it’d be illegal.

Also when you consider the $100 million given to Lincoln Group to do exactly what the Science Board recommended above, the $3.5 million of investment to the Pajamas is a drop in the bucket compared to how much the Board told the DoD to spend.

But what’s truly bizarre is the Science Board planted the seed as to what Pajamas Media should call themselves

Regional web sites aimed at providing open source information supporting the U.S. Government and Coalition policies have been proposed by U.S. European Command (eucom) and U.S. Central Command (centcom). (p. 79)

that Open Source information, however, needs to be from reliable sources, not just one web site, but several, the report said on page 27: “The U.S. needs trusted, reliable web sites conducive to dialogue on political, intellectual, and cultural levels.”

Less than a year later, a collective of trusted, reliable websites conducive to dialogue on political, intellectual and cultural levels was born, and they called themselves Open Source Media.

absolutely and purely coincidentally.

noded + the keeze + the void + odub + science blog