State Department To Model Internal Social Network After Facebook

The State Department’s eDiplomacy think tank will be launching a “Statebook” social network to connect diplomats and employees with one another via a Facebook-style system. This appears to be part of a larger cultural shift at the State Department from one of relative secrecy to one of more openness, transparency, and information sharing.

This closed social network would allow members to post profiles and share links to pertinent information within the State Department’s databases, and is meant to foster a more collaborative approach within the department. The network is also designed to make expert knowledge more readily available to members with security clearance.

According to Information Week, Richard Boly, eDiplomacy office director, appears to be the official who broke the news about Statebook. The network will likely have a few hundred beta testers and then will be accessible to the entire State Department. One of the main challenges that Boly notes would be catering to the needs of those who already have a social networking profile as well as those who have never used a social network.

There have been other eDiplomacy efforts that have seen some success within the State Department. They currently use an internal Diplopedia wiki to share unclassified information among employees and persons with security clearance, and Communities @ State to connect government officials with similar professional interests to one another. It appears that the proposed Statebook project would combine these two networks, and add some more cohesive features that would make sharing internal information faster, easier, and more accurate.