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Public Diplomacy

by on November 30, 2011

I did a little more research into the event I mentioned in class yesterday, and I got a few details wrong. The codeathons are separate events, the first happened this September at AU oddly enough. Basically the codeathon brought volunteer computer programmers and civil society experts together to address “challenges and issues related to open governance in both countries. The issues had been raised by civil society groups as part of the expanded dialogue between U.S. and Russian civil society organizations that is part of the Obama-Medvedev Bilateral Presidential Commission.” The American volunteers met in Washington and the Russian volunteers met in Moscow at the Yandex headquarters (an Internet technology company). They were linked by video which allowed the teams to interact during the event. The winning Russian team developed a prototype for an anonymous, fraud-proof, verifiable e-polling system, while the Washington winners produced a unique search tool capable of connecting citizens to legislation relevant to their interests and helping them to understand it. (For the entire article:

Clearly this event was an attempt at public diplomacy. Like we discussed in class, there may not be a clear cut message to an audience, but by hosting an event like this we are sending the message that we believe in sharing information, freedom of speech, open governance and collaboration between nations. I think events like these are much more useful expressions of public diplomacy than antiquated tools like Voice of America.


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  1. lbruce permalink

    My mother always told me that actions speaker louder than words. I truely believe this. It is through actions like this that I think American can change its image overseas. Public opinion of America is very low in many regions of the world, and the US can toot its own horn and say that we are changing…we are not the same America of the Bush administration, however, through actions like the codeathon, we show others what “we really are”. However, there is a huge hurdle to overcome and that is one of trust. I don’t think that we will quickly recover our public image abroad, and unfortunately activities like this may also give some people an uneasy feeling, leaving them wondering “What is the alterior motive”? It may take some time to improve our image, but showing is better than telling in my opinion.

  2. dlenalowe permalink

    I think another interesting point is perhaps not changing the opinion on America, but removing America from the equation. If all of a sudden you don’t think of Vlad as the Russian with the scary accent, you think of Vlad as the semi stylish guy who told you that funny story about his brother in-law. It humanizes people. A rebuttal to this is, I know, is that Vlad and the American represent a very small audience, but if we know it works, why not start work it slowly and effectively with programs like codeathon. Actions do speak louder than words, and people resonate with people they have something in common with, not necessarily their ethnicity or language spoken etc…

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