My examination of the military’s reaction to the rise of social media has been accepted for publication by the journal Media, Culture and Society. I argue that the military has been caught off-guard by the rise of social media and its reaction uneven as different voices from within that arena seek to control and manipulate what is a networked, non-hierarchical form of communication. The military has long been able to virtually set the mainstream media’s agenda through its influence on mainstream reporting. The rise of solider bloggers and others who post unapproved content has led to fissures within the military “field” (yes, a Bourdieuian analysis) revealing the internal struggle for social, political and cultural capital. Some of what I ponder:
- a comparison of two key milbloggers, Colby Buzzell (aka a self-described pre-military skateboard punk) and J. P. Borda (college educated computer guy/National Guardsman who founded the world’s largest military blog aggregator, milblogging.com), whose trajectories as posterboys for military social media have been quite different
- a look at the online media and blogger reception to the 2007 Army directive that appeared to ban blogging
- the Pentagon Bloggers’ Rountables (they pick the bloggers, they set the agenda)
- the Milbloggies, awards for top blogs, as a consecration rite (I warned you about the Bourdieu part)
This study follows up on my chapter, “Taming the Warblog” in Stuart Allan and Einar Thorsen’s book, Citizen Journalism: Global Perspectives.
And if you don’t trust me, read the Army Times on the military’s crackdown on bloggers.
Marking the fifth anniversary of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, Dave McGuire at Radio Netherlands gave me a call yesterday and we chatted about the Gulf War as an Internet war. Folks ranging from Iraqi citizens to soldiers are blogging about the conflict; various military personnel and their families are posting video to YouTube and photos to Flickr. All of which means the amount of information and the range of voices has increased in ways that a few years ago would have been unimaginable. But what difference has this made? You can listen to the interview here.