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The New Internetional System: Digital Diplomacy, International Relations and the Internet

Internet and social media are very clearly game-changers in many areas: They have revolutionized how people communicate, engage, talk, learn and connect by creating new virtual realities and networks.

They also provide us with new metric and semantic types of data to measure, assess and sometimes manipulate human behavior and emotions, market strategies, political mobilization, social events, education policies and even foreign policies.

To better understand this irreversible and unstoppable momentum, researchers have lately been focusing on multiple literacies and pedagogies of the 21st century involving dominant digital skills.

New jobs and skills are invented to fill the gap between physical and virtual worlds. For example, the U.S. State Department's 21st century statecraft and digital diplomacy "aim at complementing traditional foreign policy tools with newly innovated and adapted instruments of statecraft that fully leverage the networks, technologies, and demographics of our interconnected world." Today, many other countries have joined this endavour and developed their own digital diplomacy units and strategies.

Pew Research Center's Internet Project is a perfect example of such research agendas. Pew asked 2,558 world-renowned experts to make their own predictions about the state of digital life in the year 2025. They all predict that "the Internet will become 'like electricity' - less visible, yet more deeply embedded in people's lives for good and ill." Their conclusive 15 theses about the digital future suggest disruptive changes "towards ubiquitous connectivity that will further change how and where people associate, gather and share information, and consume media." Social media is not alone on this journey: "Augmented reality, mobile, wearable and embedded computing will be tied together in the Internet of things, allowing people and their surroundings to tap into artificial 'looking on the Internet' for something - we'll just be online, and just look."

These predictions go hand-in-hand with other efforts to define the nature of the new world. Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen's seminal work "The New Digital Age" echoes similar concerns and opportunities in reshaping the future of people, nations and business. They, too, stress a seemingly new set of dilemmas depending on the advance of connectivity, privacy and security. In their own words, "the ways that the physical and virtual world coexist, collide and complement each other will greatly affect how citizens and states behave in the coming decades."

Said that, and amid discussions regarding each country's willingness and readiness to take part in this new digital-age world order, this session offers debating a new research agenda for the study and practice of diplomacy, politics, international affairs, in the digital age.

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