FS Journal: The Foreign Service Blogosphere 2011 Plus More

Via the Foreign Service Journal by Danielle Derbes:

The Foreign Service blogosphere has quadrupled in size over the past three years. In early 2008, there were only about 60 active, unofficial blogs. By late 2009, that number had doubled to 120. Today, there are approximately 250 active, unofficial blogs maintained by members of the Foreign Service, retirees and family members.
As the FS blogosphere has grown, it has shown an increased ability to influence the public discourse. A wide variety of people now read FS blogs. Current FS personnel read each others’ blogs both for networking opportunities and to learn more about prospective posts during the bidding process.
However, the FS blogosphere has an impact beyond its own community, raising the profile of the work of the Foreign Service among the public. The blogs of FS members draw an honest picture of life as a U.S. diplomat and can provide on the-ground perspectives on issues that are absent from media coverage.
The ability to present the work and perspectives of our Foreign Service directly to both foreign and domestic audiences is a tremendous opportunity to tell the story of U.S. diplomacy — before the history books are written. The following is a sampling of the FS blogosphere at this writing.

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I’ll have a few more additions to append to this sampling shortly….

Updated @12:45 EST

It is a brave new world in Foreign Service blogging…additions below for a fuller flavor of what’s out there…

We Meant Well
Peter Van Buren’s gritty new blog and companion to the forthcoming book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. Peter is a Consular Officer with over 20 years experience at State.  We are as anxious as the 7th Floor to read what he wrote in that book of his from his Iraq PRT experience. What? Oh, yeah, we plan to check out the book index first. 

The DiploMad 2.0
“Wracked with angst over the fate of our beloved Republic, now in the hands of Morons who (mis)govern it, the DiploMad has returned to do battle on the world wide web, swearing death to political correctness, and pulling no punches.”  DiploMad 2.0 is a  pseudonym of a “long time US Foreign Service Officer; served all over the world and under all sorts of conditions. Convinced the State Department needs to be drastically slashed and reformed so that it will no longer pose a threat to the national interests of the United States.” The blog wades into foreign policy, politics, and more.

Consul-at-Arms II
This is the blog of pseudonymous Consul Leslie Slote of the U.S. Consulate Port Plaisance, Barclay Islands Dependent Territories, a Consular Officer and long time blogger we don’t want to leave out of the list, who writes “If you’re looking for gossip, for breaches of operational security or privacy, for public criticism of the declared foreign policies of the United States of America, leaks or other treasonous disloyalty, the reader is invited to look elsewhere.”

Four Globetrotters
“The (most likely) incoherent ramblings of a sleep-deprived single mother living overseas with her trio of kiddos.” Ah, this FSO is way, way too funny! I hope one day she writes a book about her adventures.

well, that was different
“diary of a portable life” by a Foreign Service spouse about to head out on her sixth overseas assignment. For her disclaimer, she writes “And, oh yeah, all the views expressed here are my own.  Why would they be anyone else’s?” Since I’m renovating a house older than grandma, I am, also envious of her DIY projects in her DC area house. GSO watch out, you won’t be able to give repair excuses to this one!

Nick and Liz Go Global
“Tales of a life in the US Foreign Service. First stop: Kabul, Afghanistan. Coming soon: Cairo, Egypt.” In February, Liz started posting Q&As with more Kabul content, pretty useful to those heading that way — from how much space you have in your apartment to recreational activities when you’r not working 16 hour days. Some more Kabul posts here.

In our “maybe gone but not forgotten blog list:”

The Consuls’ Files
Madam le Consul has not posted anything in the last three months. Perhaps she’s busy, okay; but we still stop by her blog regularly.  Her disclaimer alone is worth a trip and offers great reminders:

This blog might contain views and/or opinions that are unsuitable for children, adults, small dogs, otherwise impervious cats, persons who are overly sensitive or who suffer low self-esteem, high self-importance, no sense of humor, any religious beliefs at all, or any irrational convictions of their own rightness, importance and/or virtue, so read at your own risk.
This blog is intended solely for the amusement, information, familiarization, irritation, consideration and/or personal use of any individual who might come across it. It does not contain information that is confidential, privileged, contrary to 12 FAM 540, or unavailable through at least 10,000 other citations already freely available on the web.
No animals were harmed in the posting of this blog. […] Offer void where prohibited. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. If you don’t like the blogger, the queue starts over there. Do not drink the Kool Aid. It’s bad for you.

Facts are Strictly Optional
“Life Lessons and Wisdom from a Not So Diplomatic Diplomat”

She writes, “Okay, so I’m back…returned last week! I feel like I was on a three hour tour — ergo, I packed for two weeks and by week SEVEN during Ramadan in Kuwait — I was ready to poke my eyeballs out with Bamboo shoots!   Plus, let’s just say…I think the entire Embassy was READY for me to leave…NOT because they would ask me daily when I was leaving — I’m sure they were just curious — but because I distinctly think that the lady with the brown hair the Embassy burned in Effigy at that last happy hour looked DISTINCTLY like me …”

Hilarity with edge.  Poking eyeballs with bamboo shoots, ever heard that from any diplomat other than Michel?  Reads like a foreign service graphic novel. I actually dream of seeing this blog as a segment in Stephen Colbert’s teevee show. She is pee in your pants funny, I’m not kidding – although probably not if you’re the General Services Officer at her post.  It looks like she is off to an undisclosed adventure; we still hope that she returns one day.

There are more FS blogs out there and more born every day, too.  hannah of the slow move east (who just posted about How to Be Romantic at State) has an FS blog bundle that now numbers over 400 blogs. Digger of Life After Jerusalem also has an extensive link collection of FS bloggers.  Check them out!