(fa fede solo il testo effettivamente pronunciato)
Mi dicono che la platea sia in buona parte anglofona, sono sicuro che, almeno per quelli in sala, la permanenza in una città così bella abbia facilitato l’apprendimento di una lingua meravigliosa e sempre più diffusa nel mondo qual è l’italiano.
Qualche settimana fa, proprio su Twitter, Beppe Severgnini mi ricordava che molti miei followers conoscono le lingue. Io preferisco sempre quella nostra, che continuo ad utilizzare come principale anche su Twitter.
E, in italiano vorrei ringraziare per la straordinaria ospitalità il Presidente Cota, il Sindaco Fassino e la Direttrice Patricia O’ Donovan. Grazie inoltre a Lina per aver voluto unirsi a noi dalla Tunisia e a Mario Calabresi che, con il suo staff, sostiene questa iniziativa.
Saluto le autorità presenti in sala e tutti i partecipanti, anche quelli che non sono fisicamente qui, ma ci seguono sul web. E un particolare ringraziamento ad Alec: splendida presentazione.
I will now switch to English.
By choosing the web users as the “Person of the Year” for its December 2006 cover, “Time Magazine” made clear that the way people communicate and share information had dramatically changed, and it is changing the world. A simple yet extremely powerful message: the word “YOU” on a computer screen, meaning that each of us who creates a content on the Internet using social networks, blogs or file-sharing websites plays a role in shaping our future. Millions new players, mostly young, empowered by the Internet 2.0, share information directly, make news and even influence governments or international organizations. Lina Ben Mhenni is with us, she needs no introduction because she is exactly that word “YOU” on Time’s cover.
Only three days ago, Thomas Friedman wisely remembered us that social networks cannot substitute leadership and concrete action. However, the web is progressively eroding spatial and social barriers. Distances are reduced and borders between States are easily crossed.
Thanks to new platforms, especially Twitter, both the source of information and the channel are no longer owned exclusively by few. Today traditional media and opinion makers face an equalitarian space accessible to billions of people where everyone can create contents and share information or opinions. As Alec Ross once wrote Internet “represents the shift of mass media from print to broadcast to digital”. A modern “agorà”‘, an enormous “piazza”, where anyone’s leadership is challenged and the concept of leadership itself has changed. By biasing people’s access to information, social networks influence the way media work. Social networks and traditional media are strongly intertwined. In fact, social networks are both a source for traditional media and a channel where newspapers and TVs share their products. For example, news often appear on Twitter before traditional media can launch them as breaking news or even before they are publicly announced (as it happened with last President Obama’s visit to Afghanistan). Moreover journalists pay high attention to what politicians or artists post on their profiles, making someway Twitter and Facebook look like a new kind of press agencies. At the same time, web users share, diffuse and comment via social networks the news they find on news websites.
Think about numbers: Internet actually accounts more than 2.2 billions users, 900 millions of which are active Facebook users. More than 140 millions use Twitter, with over 340 millions tweets daily and over 1.6 billions search queries per day. No way a traditional institution like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs may compete or even survive in this new environment if it does not know and master the rules of the new game in town. So here we are trying to make sure that in this new environment diplomacy is not left behind in its essential role of reaching out to Governments, non profit organizations and individuals.
This is not the first time in history diplomats are challenged to radically change their “protocols” to new realities, to a new culture, to a different society. In fact isn’t this exactly what we do every time we change posts in our career abroad? We adapt. We have been doing this for centuries: each technology-driven revolution shifted the way diplomacy works and communicates, but neither telegraph nor tv broadcasting had ever led diplomacy to such a close, direct and quick interaction with people.
In the past, a skilled diplomat could have hundreds of personal contacts; media can expose me and my colleagues to many more readers and viewers. But nothing compared to the potential audience of virtual places like Facebook and Twitter. I have no doubt the adaptation skills we carry in our DNA will guide us successfully through this new Information era.
E-diplomacy – or “Twiplomacy” as we chose to call it today – is a reality. We may embrace it or remain passive. Social media are indeed a unique opportunity for diplomacies in order to collect, create – and yes, spin – information. Millions of people can be met where they are and we can share with them our ideas and our work.
This also means our message must be clear and strong enough to be able to undergo the direct checks by thousand and thousand individuals that are not familiar with diplomatic etiquette and say it as they see it.
Ask my followers on Twitter! They do not spare me any harsh critic, believe me.
It is not how we diplomats communicate, it is what we communicate that is being challenged by Twitter and the likes today. We must seize this unprecedented opportunity to bring foreign policy closer to citizens.
A couple of examples: once, to condemn violence perpetrated in Syria we would have sent, following the classic diplomatic channels, a Verbal Note (an official communication) using as opening words like “we present our compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of…” followed by the complaints/protests. This would have stayed in a drawer of the Syrian Embassy in Rome or may have been leaked to the press and perhaps reported by a few papers the next day. Last February 9th, in the virtual “agora’” I twitted: “Stop innocent civilians massacres in Syria. Assad has to leave room to new political season”. Also solidarity among countries can be shared via social media: after the earthquake that hit Emilia Romagna, Italy received many condolences, some of them have been sent by Twitter, like Canadian Foreign Minister Baird and European Council President Van Rompuy did.
Crisis management and communication too can find a strong ally in social networks: regularly updated information on risk can be found on Facebook and Twitter profiles of our Unità di Crisi, that recently launched its own application for Smartphone.
As Minister of Foreign Affairs of a global player like Italy, I could not allow myself to indulge in traditional public information techniques. As soon as I was appointed to my current position I opened my Twitter account and started tweeting. As well, I decided to push forward to further develop Italian diplomacy’s communication via social media. We are quite a new comer on this particular stage, but we intend to stay and grow. In a few months we opened a number of Facebook, Twitter and Flickr accounts, and now many embassies and diplomats, including junior diplomats, interact via social media with people in countries they live in. From Washington to Bucharest, from Tunis to Beijing, Italian diplomacy opened its doors to a potentially vast audience of both Italian expats and foreigners. 48 Embassies, Consulates and Italian cultural institutes opened an account on at least one social network. We have 45 Facebook pages, 7 official Twitter profiles and many more diplomats tweeting all around the world. And based on the experience of our American friends, la Farnesina is introducing training in social media management in the standard pre posting process for our diplomats.
E voglio cogliere questa opportunità per informarvi che da oggi sarà attivata una versione completamente rinnovata del sito web della Farnesina, disegnato per assomigliare a una redazione online, in cui le immagini spesso sostituiscono i testi, rimandando ad approfondimenti scritti con un linguaggio più diretto, meno burocratico e inteso ad interessare quei lettori che non hanno necessariamente familiarità con i temi di politica estera. L’ho detto sin dai primi giorni del mio mandato di governo: la diplomazia è al servizio del cittadino e fornisce servizi concreti ai cittadini. Il sito web, come Twitter, serve a far conoscere questi servizi.
Visitate il nuovo sito esteri.it e fornite il vostro contributo di idee per migliorarlo e renderlo sempre più adeguato alle vostre esigenze.
Quest’ultima frase era esattamente 140 caratteri. Pronta per essere twittata!Grazie.