[iDC] Introduction; Art, Reality & Cultural Diplomacy

Joshua S. Fouts josh.fouts at gmail.com
Wed Sep 23 01:13:19 UTC 2009

I've been remiss in introducing myself to the list, as well. Trebor asked me
to say hello.

I've been lurking on the list for a few years. I was initially invited by my
friend Molly Steenson, who I've known since our days collaborating on the
webzine '98-'00 project in San Francisco (back when blogs were called
'zines, natch). I know many others on the list, including Paul Miller, and
even Thomas Malaby, in whose WoW Guild I played for many years until I ran
out of time. Time.

My work, with my collaborator Rita J. King, centers around the nexus of
emergent technologies and cultural collaboration. I come at it from a career
in foreign policy, first at the State Department in the 1990s and then
founding and directing a foreign policy think tank at the University of
Southern California called the Center on Public Diplomacy. Rita approaches
it from her perspective as entrepreneur, philosopher, artist and
award-winning investigative journalist.

Rita and my latest project which we recently released at the Carnegie
Council for Ethics in International Affairs here in New York where we are
both senior fellows, is called "Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds."
The project, which was funded by a grant from the Lounsbery Foundation,
spanned four continents in the physical world and across the virtual world
of Second Life. In it we explored how virtual worlds could facilitate
cultural collaboration, with an emphasis on highlighting its potential for
cultural diplomacy and public diplomacy. We produced a set of policy
recommendations that have been presented in recent weeks to the White House,
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Undersecretary for Public
Diplomacy, Judith McHale, as well as non-US diplomatic corps such as the
British Council.

We approached the project as equal parts policy, journalism and art. And, as
such, our reports came in three flavors: the aforementioned policy
recommendations, a broadcast quality documentary, and a graphic book. All of
them can be viewed or downloaded here:

All of this is cast through the prism of what we describe as being toward a
new global culture and economy in the Imagination Age.

You might enjoy an essay Rita just wrote exploring many of the issues we
deal with in our interactions with policymakers, which uses the framework of
art and creativity as a contextualizing paradigm. This came out of a
presentation we just gave at an Aspen Institute Summit on Cultural
Diplomacy. Her essay is called "Art, Reality & Cultural Diplomacy"

Thanks for including me on this list, I've enjoyed the discourse.

Talk soon ~

Joshua S. Fouts
Senior Fellow, Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs;
Senior Fellow, Digital Media and Public Policy, The Center for the Study of
the Presidency
Chief Global Strategist, Dancing Ink Productions, LLC
e: josh at dancinginkproductions.com
web: dancinginkproductions.com
blog: www.eurekadejavu.com
twitter/skype: josholalia
Second Life: Schmilsson Nilsson
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