07
Jan
09

US Air Force Seeks To Militarize Blogosphere; Unveils Flowchart, Neologism

air_force_blog_char

Am I a “rager”?

Coming from both sides of the military-industrial complex’s hyphen, authoritarians have engaged social media to varying degrees of absurdity.  Corporate mishandling of internet communications technologies and communities are already the stuff of legend while military blogging policy for active-duty personnel is more or less “don’t post, don’t comment”.

These outcomes are unsurprising, given what the core social media pretexts of transparency, equality and sharing mean to the classic operating philosophies of profit-making and warfighting.  They mean what oil means to water.  As such, in the case of the Air Force, paranoia over social media reigns.  For airmen on duty, centralized IP blocking of blogs has reportedly been in place since February. Of course, USAF blocking isn’t in place for “established, reputable media outlets” – nor was it ever in place for airmen’s private machines in their own homes.  The absurdity is inescapable: authoritarianism usually doesn’t (and in today’s world, cannot) care about the effectiveness of its results as much as it cares about the appearance of applying its authority.

This problematic truth about authoritarian censorship, set against the communications realities of the blogosphere and a planet’s slow crawl toward social democracy, is what has allowed slow change in even the most vertical and anti-social organizations our society has ever produced.  It was only a matter of time before the US military service branches began to wake up to the problem of being, for lack of a batter term, stupid about social media.

The procedural, bureaucratic  mindset maps its way out of stupidity through the judicious application of…procedure. The military takes the premise to its logical extreme: there are field manuals for everything one accomplishes in the military.  And USAF Captain David Faggard, acting as the USAF’s “designated social media guru”, has added an Air Force field manual for blog commentary (see above graphic). In a handy flow-chart presentation, USAF personnel are given a means by which to navigate the blogosphere and decision points to guide interaction – and non-interaction – with it.

Most interesting about the chart is the designation “rager” for blog posts that are one shade more credible than those of a troll, yet are not to be replied to, only monitored.

I would like very much to know if my post qualifies as a “rager” post.  After all, it isn’t positive about the USAF, its blogging technique, institutional stupidity, centralized authority.  And truth be told, I’m not so hot on General Curtis LeMay, polluting Vieques island Puerto Rico with weapons contamination, posessing and bumbling an overwhelming nuclear arsenal, and having almost eight hundred foreign military bases all over the world flying my country’s flag, eternally fighting WWII.  This is a fairly anti-militarist blog, and I’m a fairly anti-militarist guy.

So where do I fall in Captain Faggard’s hierarchy?    At first glance, it appears I am an “unhappy customer”.

Though I find repugnant the tendency for government to reach for commercial language to describe its relations and work, I have to admit that in this exercise, the Captain has done a good job with his nomenclature.

As a taxpayer, I am indeed unhappy, not the least at the fact that all cultural indicators point to Captain Faggard attaining a rank of Major or Colonel before reaching for his piece of the military-industrial complex largesse on its civilian side.  Unhappy because when he does, the fairly trivial and broad groupings he has created in his chart will absolutely represent boardroom gold for those private enterprises heretofore unaware of how to begin to participate in social media.  Enterprises who might hire him to import a clue to their organization just as he has done for the USAF are – cultural indicators suggest – going to be subsidized by my taxes ad infinitum.  The Captain  would be a big exception to prevailing conditions if, even as he left the service,  he did not remain in the sphere of national “defense”.  The all-too-common career move is to hop across the hyphen from weapons buyer to weapons maker.

So unhappy, yes, but not despairing.  Because social media isn’t something you drag along to the silos – the literal and figurative silos of an over-weaponized, over-capitalized culture.  Social media is the chatter permeating and shrinking those silos despite best efforts to channel, guide and harness from above.  The free exchange of ideas as a baseline social expectation is far too simple to suppress, to prevalent to ignore, too beneficial to brand. As long as electrons move, social media will withstand, abide and flood every silo that thinks itself a dam.

Rager out.

(Thanks to Noah Schactman’s original piece in the excellent Danger Room blog about Capt. Faggard’s chart.)

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