Last year, I enjoyed reading In the Clickstream, a speculative blog-based thinkpiece from Mike Edwards, who teaches composition at the U.S. Military Academy. With Mike, I participated in a workshop at the 4Cs, where I got to meet two majors who are also composition instructors. Both my brother and sister work for defense contractors, and I grew up just outside Washington D.C., so I’m not a stranger to the culture of the defense industry, but it was a very interesting experience hearing military instructors talk about their experiences teaching literature and composition officers-in-training. One of the many things I picked up at this conference was some cultural context to help me to interpret this piece from Wired:
Since the start of the Iraq war, there’s been a raucous debate in
military circles over how to handle blogs — and the servicemembers who
want to keep them. One faction sees blogs as security risks, and a collective waste of troops’ time. The other (which includes top officers, like Gen. David Petraeus and Lt. Gen. William Caldwell) considers
blogs to be a valuable source of information, and a way for ordinary
troops to shape opinions, both at home and abroad.
This 2006 report for the Joint Special Operations University, “Blogs and Military Information Strategy,”
offers a third approach — co-opting bloggers, or even putting them on
the payroll. “Hiring a block of bloggers to verbally attack a specific
person or promote a specific message may be worth considering,” write
the report’s co-authors, James Kinniburgh and Dororthy Denning.