Nov 12, 2008

War and Remembrance Detail

I’d been to Gallipoli a couple of years ago and still wonder at how much horror in such a small peaceful beach & how Ataturk later sought peace with Australia to create a haunting memorial place. Then, recently I found myself reading an eclectic collection of books on World War 1, that I had borrowed for my daughter, sick in bed, with a high school assignment due. As an avowed pacificist, such material was way of character for me, but I saw the War, (eg Fromelles, Gallipoli) & technology, the focus of the assignment, quite differently. (To be honest my efforts to get through other military tomes such as Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” have monumentally failed to date, as with Niccolo Macchiavelli's "The Prince" - a manual on how to govern effectively.)

Coincidentally, 2 weeks later, I listened at ACTKM 2008 as David Snowden spoke of Web 2.0 used in Middle Eastern conflict frontlines by the US military - to get accurate, current information to the strategists – chillingly real, but nonetheless very dynamic KM. And how the newly elected US President Barack Obama’s campaign team exploited Web 2.0 communications – despite criticism now he’s taking a brief rest after the campaign. Honestly, even in a local council election campaign, & I’ve done 4, the pace is exhausting ... you need chill out time afterwards….

I started with Les Carlyon’s “The Great War”, 800 pages, very long & many footnotes. The failure of the British communications, how this prevented them from modifying flawed strategies, that bore no relation to reality, inevitably leading to devastating results on their battle strategies, leapt off the pages. Along the way, Carlyon inserted small, personal stories of soldiers from both sides, including disastrous Fromelles, (more Australia soldiers perished than in Gallipoli). Citizens saw through the UK War Office’s official spin, as casualties exploded. Interesting to hear Turkish perspectives of Gallipoli (actually Gelibolu), aka the Cannakale War, fighting off UK- led ANZAC invaders. Confusing ?? So the 11th of November 1918, long remembered as the Armistice for a world shell shocked by an agonising 4 year war - also heralded a new world, where countries such as Russia, Germany & Turkey changed forever. And in other countries, like Australia and Vietnam, colonial ties loosened.

Military & political reputations would be made, as officers learnt new ways of campaigning – Haig, Blamey, Patten, Montgomery, Rommel, Hitler. Technology required a constantly adapting orchestration of tanks, wireless radio communications, artillery, planes etc & the Royal Navy, played a lesser role. Supplying the frontline troops was crucial.

Just short of 90 years later, 4th of November 2008 will be unforgettable. The day, when the USA elected its first non White President, as the world reeled with a changed global financial order. Victory at the end of a long campaign, where Victors exploited new technologies – Web 1.0 & Web 2.0 – email, YouTube, MySpace, etc. Adaptability, crucial, but tradition not ignored, as campaign workers gave snacks to those queued up to vote. Attempts to paint people negatively by the Defeated unsuccessful. I was astonished at the failure of the Defeated to effectively use Web 1.0 & Web 2.0. Even in NSW local government elections of 1999, I emailed out campaign strategy, policies & tools, to our team of 15 candidates & supporters. Basic web pages created a campaign presence, when shut out by the mainstream media. It was to be the most successful of all my team’s election campaigns in 20 years.

History ? Change is inevitable. But then the same lessons to be learned again.... Smarter tools really can’t be ignored, or banned by traditional IT management. Web 2.0, in all of its forms is here. People will find ways to use them officially, or otherwise, even outside the organization. To get the benefits – realistic governance is needed to direct, guide, help & enable users.

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