Thursday, February 23, 2006

World Public Opinion, PIPA and COPA

Here are some interesting public opinion sites: Center on Policy Attitudes (COPA) monitors U.S. attitudes about domestic policies. PIPA, the Program on International Policy Attitudes, maintains the website "Americans and the World", which monitors American attitudes on global issues. In January 2006 PIPA also launched the World Public Opinion website to "increase understanding of public opinion in specific nations around the world as well as to elucidate the global patterns of world public opinion."

Monday, February 20, 2006

Although IRCs are nowadays rarely asked to find somebody a good book, American Corner staffers and public library contacts might be interested to know about Whichbook. Whichbook tries to bring the reader and good book together by building a profile of desired characteristics on several continuums - e.g. happy-sad, funny-serious, conventional-unconventional, gentle-violent, optimistic-bleak, etc - essentially automating the procedure of a public librarian interrogating a prosepctive lender. The overarching idea, according to Whichbook: "Instead of starting from the overwhelming choice of books available, whichbook starts from the reader and enables each individual to build the elements of that elusive 'good read' we are all looking for but don't quite know how to define."

Friday, February 17, 2006

European Library

The national libraries of Albania, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy-Florence, Italy-Rome, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia-Moscow, Russia-St.Peterburg, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Vatican City have joined forces in the European Library: "a portal which offers access to the combined resources (books, magazines, journals.... - both digital and non-digital) of the 43 national libraries of Europe. It offers free searching and delivers digital objects - some free, some priced."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

PD and IIP, class dunces is an OMB website where the taxpayer can find out how USG programs are performing. Here's what they have to say about three programs that are close to our hearts, Public Diplomacy, IIP, and Global Educational and Cultural Exchanges:

1. "Public Diplomacy"
"These programs articulate the foreign policy objectives of the US and create an international environment receptive to US interests through exchanges, training and outreach activities. Public Diplomacy also provides US policy-makers with information about how the US and its actions are perceived abroad."

Our grade is not so good:

Results Not Demonstrated
A rating of Results Not Demonstrated (RND) indicates that a program has not been able to develop acceptable performance goals or collect data to determine whether it is performing.

* These programs have had difficulty measuring their impact, if they have been evaluated at all. Frequently there is anecdotal evidence that a program is achieving success but there is no formal data to support those claims.
* Few of the State Department public diplomacy programs link budget to performance.
* There is no broad overarching US Government public diplomacy strategy. Because of this lack of a plan, programs such as this one may not be the most effective both in the long and short term.

So how is IIP doing...?

2. International Information Programs
"These programs, products and services work to counteract negative perceptions of the U.S. and build understanding between the U.S. and international audiences. They deliver America's message to the international media, government officials, opinion leaders and the public in more than 140 countries in seven languages."

The grade?

Results Not Demonstrated
A rating of Results Not Demonstrated (RND) indicates that a program has not been able to develop acceptable performance goals or collect data to determine whether it is performing.

* International Information Programs are primarily reactive. The current structure and nature of the programs force staff and resources to be dedicated to events that have already taken place rather than planning new programs, ways to reach new audiences or being more proactive in their outreach activities and programming.
* The program has had difficulty setting measures in the past. The program recently developed new long and short term goals. However, measuring public diplomacy outcomes annually is challenging due to the long-term nature of opinion and behavior change.
* Public Diplomacy programs, including IIP, are not based on a broad overarching USG Public Diplomacy strategy and thus may not be the most effective both in the long and short term.

Here's a surprise though, and food for thought; Educational and Cultural exchanges, a subset of public diplomacy, and the results of which are surely as intangible and hard to measure as for PD and IIP, gets the highest possible rating. (I guess what distinguishes Exchanges from IIP and the rest of PD is that it is not burdened with the more challenging tasks of articulating U.S. policies in a positive way and counteracting negative perceptions of the U.S.) :

3. Global Educational and Cultural Exchanges
Effective (with three stars)

Global Educational and Cultural Exchanges has the following objective::
This program manages exchange programs that help increase mutual understanding and respect by promoting personal, professional, and institutional ties between private citizens and organizations in the United States and abroad, as well as by presenting US history, society, art and culture to overseas audiences.

This is the highest rating a program can achieve. Programs rated Effective set ambitious goals, achieve results, are well-managed and improve efficiency.

* These programs are managed effectively and reach designated targets. Each program has a specific population, gender or location-specific audience they are trying to reach. For example, the State Department is reaching out youth in the Muslim World and women through their Partnerships for Learning and Youth Exchange and Study Programs.
* Educational and Cultural Affairs at State Department use performance data and tools to make management decisions. They are now focused on meeting with staff regularly and have adapted tracking systems to better monitor and evaluate ongoing activities.
* There is no broad overarching US Government public diplomacy strategy that would include programs such as this one. Because of this lack of a broader strategy, programs such as this one may not be the most effective both in the short and long term.

Website Tips has all kinds of website-related information: "provides CSS, HTML, and XHTML tutorials, graphics tutorials, articles, tips, information and resources to build or improve your Web site presence."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


onesense allows you to create flash messages with background and color. Lot's of fun, probably a good idea to turn on the money-meter before you begin. And very useful - for example, you could use it as a tool for generating interesting article alert mailings and such. The Flash message arrives scrambled, looking like the one below...the recipient is asked, "Got the sense" and can choose either "Not yet, let me continue!" or "Yes, verify now" - the latter unscrambles the words, even if he/she was bluffing! Here's an example:

The Money Meter

Ever wonder how much your time is worth, or why others don't? Find out with the money-meter. As the clock runs, the dollars accumulate in one cent increments. Very useful when you're trying to convince your boss that your time could be better spent. It also tells you what the average American worker is making in the same amount of time, which is very humbling (though I guess some people might find it flattering...)

NPR replaces VOA

According to a New York Times story, the Broadcasting Board of Governors is determined to terminate Voice of America's presence in Berlin and shift efforts to programming projects in local languages in the Middle East (this would seem to fit nicely with Secretary Rice's transformational diplomacy concept). The slot vacated by VOA will reportedly be filled by NPR, which wants to establish itself as a public broadcaster. An NPR spokesman said that letters and emails from foreign listeners suggest the change will be welcomed: "They prefer programming with "no artifice, no hidden sales pitch and no slanting to sell a point of view," he said. They also enjoy the opportunity to eavesdrop on America's frank conversations with itself, he added."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Diversity of Muslims in the United States: Views as Americans

This is an interesting report published by the Senior Program Officer in the Religion and Peacemaking program at the United States Institute of Peace. This report analyzes ways Muslims in the U.S. understand their roles as Americans in combating terrorism and their unique contributions toward conflict prevention and peacemaking. "The assimilation and integration of American Muslims has effectively enabled the flourishing of dozens of national and regional organizations to work in areas of civil rights, human rights, interfaith dialogue, education, charity, public diplomacy, political activism, and other religious and secular activities. Despite the post 9/11 scrutiny of the Muslim community, American Muslim groups have devised sophisticated grassroots campaigns on counter-terrorism and anti-extremist ideology".

Monday, February 13, 2006

Congressional Research Service controversy

The Federation of American Scientists, in its Secrecy News newsletter dated February 9, reported on a dispute currently roiling the Congressional Research Service over recent reports that were deemed critical of White House policy, featuring the CRS expert on the separation of powers, Louis Fisher.
The report can be accessed at the following URL:
It also includes links to further reports in the Wall Street Journal and UPI.

Think tank blog from the Washington Post

A useful blog resource on the latest reports and news from the world of the Washington think tanks is "Think Tank Town." This blog, authored by Ron Nessen and hosted by the Washington Post, cannot compare with the remarkably comprehensive 'Docuticker' at the Resourceshelf site, but features interesting papers and projects: recently highlighted topics include the growing political gap between the military and academia, and reactions to the FY 2007 budget.
You can access it at:
It is updated regularly.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Black History Month resource

Researchbuzz advises that for the month of February, Black History Month, is granting free access to its African American Research Center, a collection of historical records providing information on African Americans. It's available at

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Saddam Hussein Trial

The library of Congress Law Library has a website devoted to the Saddam Hussein trial. About the site: "This website is intended to provide the viewer with essential information related to the relevant trials...In addition to viewers in general, the following of the development of the trial of Saddam Hussein, which started in October 2005, may be of special interest to legal scholars of international criminal law and the seekers of universal justice."


Listible has lists of useful things, categorized by topic....Firefox extension, GTD tools (get things done), social bookmarking sites, online storage services, etc. etc.