Hillary Clinton Is 'the Godmother of 21st-Century Statecraft'?

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In a New York Times Magazine feature on two young State Department Twitterers, one of them praised the Secretary of State for her role in opening up the agency in the Internet age.

To hear [Alec] Ross and [Jared] Cohen tell it, even last year, in this age of rampant peer-to-peer connectivity, the State Department was still boxed into the world of communiqués, diplomatic cables and slow government-to-government negotiations, what Ross likes to call "white guys with white shirts and red ties talking to other white guys with white shirts and red ties, with flags in the background, determining the relationships." And then Hillary Clinton arrived. "The secretary is the one who unleashed us," Ross says. "She's the godmother of 21st-century statecraft."

The piece's author, Jesse Lichtenstein, caught some great details, and he spared no "dude" in transcribing Ross and Cohen's quotes. But he's telling a deeper narrative, too, about how governments can -- or cannot -- control information in our time.

You might recognize some of the debate from the on-going sharp exchange between Georgetown's Evgeny Morozov and NYU's Clay Shirky about the relationship of the Internet and political freedom. Our own James Fallows has also been watching these issues closely and has written and moderated panels about them. In June, he spoke with Ross, Google's Eric Schmidt, and Timothy Wu of Columbia Law School and Slate about whether the Internet favors dictators or dissenters. It's embedded below.
 

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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