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Air Flow
January 6, 2009 10:44 PM   Subscribe

How to blog, or counter-blog, for the US Air force, in handy flow chart form.
posted by Artw (40 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Interesting. That chart's actually a pretty reasonable guide to not flipping your lid when anyone on the internet posts about something you care about.
posted by verb at 10:47 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


That flow chart is a lot better than I expected. Of course, it still assumes that only "positive or balanced" comments about the Air Force should be concurred with, but that's to be expected. The rest are very reasonable guidelines, and many organizations could probably benefit from issuing basically the same advice to their employees.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:51 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I can see it being repurposed for civilian use - possibly it should be air-dropped into a few open threads here.
posted by Artw at 10:52 PM on January 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


I wonder what an unhappy Air Force customer is like.

"Hay, that napalm you dropped on me is totally rancid. "
posted by qvantamon at 11:11 PM on January 6, 2009 [9 favorites]


Hmm, three comments so far and nobody's freaking out yet? Must be clandestine Air Force personnel come to lull us into a false sense of security. I'M ON TO YOU, SECRET AIR FORCE COMMENTERS!
posted by The Tensor at 11:12 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


They'll have to send so US Airforce cyberspace commandos after you now.
posted by Artw at 11:19 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love the recommendation for dealing with trolls:

"Avoid responding to specific posts. Monitor the site for relevant information and comments. Notify HQ."

"Welcome to the Pentagon Telecommunications Routing Center. This is Sheila. How may I direct your call?"

"Yes, this is Lieutenant Colonel Abernathy, at the Special Ultra-Tech CyberDigital Operations Center. I need to speak with Chief of Staff Schwartz. It's urgent. Priority code Lima-Uniform-Lima-Zulu."

"Yes sir, right away, sir."

-click-

"This is Schwartz. Whatever you've got, it better be damn good."

"Sir, it is, sir. While monitoring activities on the internets, my night crew encountered a Hostile Virtual Agitation Agent."

"A troll? Well, what intel were you able to gather?"

"According to our operatives, the HVAA -- code-named 'GayGuevarra' -- posted several anti-military comments on multiple vectors, including, and I quote: 'air force? moar liek FAIL FORCE!!!! amirite?"

"Sweet mother..."
posted by Rhaomi at 12:05 AM on January 7, 2009 [59 favorites]


50 cent gangs, US style.
posted by saysthis at 1:36 AM on January 7, 2009


Great guide, but someone told me the air force has been taken over by fundamentalist Christians and dominionists bent on getting Jews to move to Israel in order to bring about the rapture.

*Waits patiently for refutation or concurrance.*

But seriously, it looks like they got the right PR people to write this up. I especially liked the part about transparency.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:12 AM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is what it looks like when people with moderate web-savvy begin to percolate through large organisations.

About time.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:31 AM on January 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is just funny as a military response to the wild weirdness that is the world wide web. It may be sensible advice, but the idea that a flowchart could seriously help a person respond to the extreme diversity of blog posts and blog comments is hilarious. We live in a world where at the moment a search for "blog wars" leads to a porn site, a search for "enemy blog post" leads to some comments about the Chevy Camaro, and a search for "counter propaganda" leads to a clothing line. A flowchart with neat categories like "Discovery", "Evaluate", "Respond" is supposed to be subtle enough to handle this variety?
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:48 AM on January 7, 2009


I love how common-sensical the whole thing is.

I almost feel bad for the poor people who worked to create it, knowing that it would be completely and utterly ignored.

(I think reporting trolls to HQ should be a more widespread policy. Can we get an HQ?)
posted by Scattercat at 3:12 AM on January 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


I had somehow gotten an initial feeling from the Wired story that this was more a way to get personell to spread gung-ho PR, so I was fairly surprised when the chart itself reads more like a good-netizen* guide. Good on ya, Air Force.

*The first time this word has been used in ten years? It sounds so Prodigy.
posted by JHarris at 4:44 AM on January 7, 2009


Two things are a little creepy to me. First, the world is divided into two groups: Those that are either praising the Air Force or are "balanced" and then those that are negative. And second, of those that are negative they are either trolls, "ragers", misguided or encountered a bad apple.

Clearly there is no balanced, not-based-on-a-single-bad-experience reason to not completely love the military-industrial complex.
posted by DU at 4:54 AM on January 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


+-------------------------------+          +------------------+
|Is the post about the Airforce?|--------->|Apply common sense|
+-------------------------------+ +------------------+

posted by seanyboy at 5:12 AM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like how some of the flow chart boxes pretend to ask a question but really give an order. "Do you wish to respond with factual information directly on the comment board?" and the only option is YES, YOU DO WISH TO RESPOND WITH FACTUAL INFORMATION DIRECTLY ON THE COMMENT BOARD.
posted by mediareport at 5:13 AM on January 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Whenever I here about a government obsessed with speech like this (another good example is CHINA) it always strikes me as odd: why does the g-ment care what is posted on the internet? Are people's belief structures and behavior really in any way altered by internet web postings? Are Chinese citizens going to overthrow the government because they see a picture of Tianamen Square on Google Images? It makes me wonder if I'm missing something about mass human psychology and whatnot. Because accepting that such speech does constitute immediate threat to the government, it necessarily implies that people are nothing but stimulus-response automata. Watch corporate media -> work for 80hrs/week -> feel existential satisfaction at purchase of new flat screen tv. Read internet counterculture webposting -> go firebomb city hall.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 5:38 AM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


norabarnacl3 writes: Are people's belief structures and behavior really in any way altered by internet web postings?

Holy shit I hope so, otherwise we're all wasting our time here.
posted by anifinder at 5:40 AM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wasting our time here? I don't need to alter anyone's behavior; I just like hearing myself talk. Isn't that what you're all doing here?

Vaguely on topic: I'm posting from an AIAA conference where an Air Force keynote speaker praised the benefits of "moving to open source systems, like Windows". Technical savvy percolates slowly.
posted by roystgnr at 6:17 AM on January 7, 2009


It's interesting, and I think telling of the average level of intelligence at mefi being so high, that people are saying "What? It's just a flow chart saying 'use common sense'!"

You do all realise, of course, that common sense is not exactly universally available to the average person? In some cases, it is actually impossible for people to understand the concept. I think the internet seems to attract these sorts of people in droves...
posted by Brockles at 7:13 AM on January 7, 2009


It isn't just that common sense isn't that common. It's the people who join the military enjoy having Standard Procedures to follow. So even if they had common sense, they might prefer a flowchart.

This flowchart also implicitly creates a discipline flowchart for someone who strays from the guidelines. Flamed someone in a forum by going off the flowchart? Guantanamo!
posted by DU at 7:17 AM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sound advice. You could easily replace Air Force with Metafilter.
posted by odinsdream at 7:18 AM on January 7, 2009


Of course, the real reason for it is here:

It's all part of an Air Force push to "counter the people out there in the blogosphere who have negative opinions about the U.S. government and the Air Force," Captain David Faggard says.

It's pure marketing. They've worked out that the more rational voices they have suggesting the air force is lovely and wonderful (and the government, of course) the better the chance of drowning out any subversive troll/truth-tellers that disagree.

Some may call that effective grass roots marketing. Some may call it an encouragement to create a greater basic level of positive propaganda. Only 'bad apples' and 'misguided' people would suggest that, of course, as DU notes.
posted by Brockles at 7:19 AM on January 7, 2009


Also, what qvantamon said; Air Force customers? That's an odd way to put it.
posted by odinsdream at 7:20 AM on January 7, 2009


Two things are a little creepy to me. First, the world is divided into two groups: Those that are either praising the Air Force or are "balanced" and then those that are negative. And second, of those that are negative they are either trolls, "ragers", misguided or encountered a bad apple.

I just figured the flow-chart was acknowledging that a balanced critique can ultimately come anti-Air Force, or at least anti-(specific element of Air Force) but not be a negative post. We're talking about attitude here, really. There are definitely elements that even the officials at the Air Force will reluctantly admit need improvement, and if a post online is balanced and positive (constructive) in nature, then it is something to be praised by an Airman, even if it's not all "rah rah" and "America Fuck Yeah."
posted by explosion at 7:44 AM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are people's belief structures and behavior really in any way altered by internet web postings books, TV, radio, movies, conversations with other people?

No, of course not. People's beliefs are fully-formed from the time of birth.
posted by desjardins at 7:44 AM on January 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Air Force customers?

Yeah, for when you save 30 million Pepsi points and need to cash in for your fighter jet.
posted by explosion at 7:44 AM on January 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Creepy mission creep.

This isn't about the Air Force's mission to defend America; it's about using taxpayer resources to defend the Air Force bureaucracy (and enrich the contractors and retired general officers who profit as part of the military-industrial complex).

Where are the anti-big-government Republicans now?
posted by orthogonality at 7:57 AM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wonder what an unhappy Air Force customer is like.

Could be something as simple as a humanitarian relief mission where supplies were misdirected or late. They do a lot of stuff other than dropping bombs, but you knew that.

The money quote in the Wired article is ""Now they just need to lift those damn IP [Internet Protocol] filters," Field adds, so airmen can actually read those blogs that they're supposed to respond to."

I'm on a Navy installation - the Navy is sort of our landlord - and if the Air Force policies are anything like our policies, the web access is extremely tightly locked down. No blogs at all. Not sure how they would even see a negative blog post, other than maintaining a separate network connection for searching and responding to negative blog posts.
posted by fixedgear at 8:20 AM on January 7, 2009


After some idle Googling, I'm pleased to learn that the main switching board for the DoD is in fact called the "Pentagon Telecommunications Center" (close enough) and that "Lieutenant Colonel Abernathy" is the name of a GI Joe character in charge of -- get this -- the "Domestic Anti-Terror Task Force".

Now, if only there were a real S.U.T.C.D.O.C...
posted by Rhaomi at 8:30 AM on January 7, 2009


I bet the person charged with designing that mind-numbingly common sense flowchart was shaking his head and blogging about his utterly banal job task while waiting for revisions on the thing. He probably spent r3 through r24 adding and removing quotation marks from "trolls," "ragers," and "misguided" while the editor and art director hashed it out.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:36 AM on January 7, 2009


Also, GayGuevara exists and, judging by his Myspace title and motto, appears to be some sort of socialist Navy dude. And everybody knows socialist Navy dudes hate super-patriotic Air Force dudes.

I"M BATTING 1000
posted by Rhaomi at 8:43 AM on January 7, 2009


I'm betting in two months we see the Air Force recruitment ad that shows a bunch of young men blogging all day instead of gettting killed.

Bonus points if it's a Three Doors Down vehicle.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:54 AM on January 7, 2009


Are people's belief structures and behavior really in any way altered by internet web postings?

Holy shit I hope so, otherwise we're all wasting our time here.


Sad news, anifinder...
posted by Artw at 9:36 AM on January 7, 2009


This is actually quite neat. I know that most Mefites recognize and ignore trolls, but there are a lot of people who won't.

My mother, for example, was taking an online course and was on a discussion board in which she got into a little flamewar. She told me about it, and my response was, "State your point and let it go," and she was incredulous. Surely if she did not respond, everyone would think that she was as stupid or what-have-you as the other person indicated. It was refreshing to say, trust me, I'm from the internet.
posted by TypographicalError at 9:55 AM on January 7, 2009


TypographicalError: Yes, there are a few things that the internet does well, and teaching one how to rationally negotiate an argument with an irrational person--primarily when to stop arguing altogether-- is one of them. Plus it teaches you how to tell your mom to stop being aids.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:22 AM on January 7, 2009


But someone is wrong on the Internet!
posted by vsync at 1:23 PM on January 7, 2009


TypographicalError: Yes, there are a few things that the internet does well, and teaching one how to rationally negotiate an argument with an irrational person--primarily when to stop arguing altogether-- is one of them.
Unfortunately it does this by increasing the density of irrational loud people in conversations. But, yes. Growing up with Usenet was like attending rhetoric boot camp every summer.
posted by verb at 1:41 PM on January 7, 2009


Are people's belief structures and behavior really in any way altered by internet web postings?

I would bet that some people join the armed forces because of what they read online. Something Awful has a post on one of their forums where prospective recruits can ask questions of currently enlisted folk.
posted by smackfu at 1:52 PM on January 7, 2009


Now if only the military wasn't actively preventing their own people from using weblogs, and threatening their career when they do, this would be noteworthy.

"Now they just need to lift those damn IP [Internet Protocol] filters," Field adds, so airmen can actually read those blogs that they're supposed to respond to.

And also from the article...

"counter the people out there in the blogosphere who have negative opinions about the U.S. government and the Air Force" . . .

Next time I criticize my elected officials for their rubber stamp support for the world's largest military budgets, it sure would suck to be intercepted by the 17th tactical blogging squadron of the 4th warblogging wing.
posted by markkraft at 5:05 PM on January 7, 2009


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