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Your Help With Next Year Requested

Author:

The major goal of the milblog track at Blog World is to talk with you. Not to you, not at you, not about you, but with you. We want to meet you, get to know you, and have you get to know us as well.

To that end, we will have an unofficial panel Friday 16 October at 1 pm (1300 hours) at the Army Milblog Lounge in the exhibit hall. That panel has but one purpose: to hear from you what you would like to see and/or hear in the milblog track next year.

So, what would you like to hear? What would you like to see?

Come by and let us know. Talk, enjoy some refreshments, and let’s begin planning on making next year even bigger and better than this year.

Hope to see you there.

Introduction and Serious Request

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For a number of reasons, I want to introduce Tammy Munson to you today. Tammy is a panelist on the milblog track, taking part in the “They Also Serve: Spouse Bloggers” panel.

I will skip the normal introductions and short bio for now, and ask you to go read this post instead. You can go here after that to find out more about Tammy.

Please keep the families and friends of those who lost their lives in the battle(s) you are now finally hearing about on the news in your thoughts and prayers. Please send good thoughts, prayers, or whatever you do to them, and to the wounded and their family and friends. As you read blogs or the news, keep in mind that these are real people, and that they are family, friends, acquaintances and more to those in the milblog community.

Meet the Milblog Panelists: Scott Henderson

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Scott Henderson is not a milblogger, he’s a Transformer. No, not like in the movies, but a person who helps companies and non-profits transform themselves online so that they can transform their growth. In the Milblog Track, he’s going to be discussing the changes and opportunities on the way for milblogs and milbloggers.

SHmilblog09

His bio is as follows:

During his fourteen-year professional career, Scott has been a major gift fundraiser, foundation executive, magazine editor, marketing consultant, and president of a capital campaign firm. Today, he is the cause marketing director for Indiana-based MediaSauce, helping corporations and non-profits create and implement online strategies to achieve transformational growth.

Recent accomplishments include the creation and launch of www.pledgetoendhunger.com, which helped Tyson Foods deliver 560,000 meals to four different cities for children in need, raised $28,000 for Share Our Strength, and assembled an army of nearly 5,000 childhood hunger awareness champions.

MediaSauce is a full service marketing and communications firm whose strategic philosophy positions the online space at the center of communications in order to create and sustain open dialogue and lasting relationships. Clients include The Nature Conservancy, Indiana Pacers, USA Diving, Samaritan’s Feet, and University of Chicago.

You can hear him speak at 4pm on Thursay 15 October on the “Getting the Picture: What’s Next for Milblogs” panel.

http://www.mediasauce.com/cause/

Meet The Milblog Panelists: Barmy Mama

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I’ve said before that milbloggers, and the milblog panelists, span the spectrum. Today, it is a pleasure to begin showcasing that spectrum by starting with Barmy Mama.

Barmy Mama's Avatar

Barmy Mama's Avatar

Now, blogging has been a bit lite of late, but having a newborn tends to do that. Now she may not do so, but I hold Rick Calvert and the folks here at Blog World responsible for the timing. As she put it to me, “Ironically, right when I opened up the confirmation email they sent me on the 10th, I went into labor and my son was born a few hours later.” Lite though her site might have been of late, it is a delight filled with humor and more.

Her bio is as follows:  Deanna is a 31-year-old, mommy of two, a former US Marine, and has been married to an Army National Guardsman for four years.

Barmy is a panelist on “They Also Serve: Spouse Bloggers” This panel looks at the oft overlooked half of the equation that makes protection by military, law enforcement, and other first responders possible. The panel begins app. 0945 hours on Thursday 15 October.

http://deltasierrahotel.net/

No, Milblogs Are Not PAO or Propaganda

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In response to something offline, I wanted to add to what I said yesterday.

While some PAO’s blog, and the Department of Defense is starting to blog and engage in social media, milblogs are not PAO operations. The milbloggers do have to register with their command, which can consist of telling their superior they are blogging to something a bit more formal in writing. That said, they do not have to get their content reviewed or approved by public affairs (PAO).

While differing commands have different policies, most do not review what a blogger posts unless someone complains or there is a problem. The most common problem is one of violating operational security (OPSEC). The problem with violating OPSEC is that it can put that command in danger, especially if it gives information that the enemy can exploit. Think of it like this: if someone blogs that a security camera and alarm still hasn’t been fixed despite how long it’s been, and the enemy reads that, then they know how to get in undetected and do bad things. At its best, OPSEC isn’t designed or intended to keep the news from getting out (and problems unreported), it’s there to keep the enemy from getting in.

Yes, some milbloggers do get in trouble for saying things about their command. It is in many ways the same as working for any company: if you go on online and scream about your boss being an idiot, and the boss sees it, your rear will be in a sling if not out the door. It’s pretty much the same for a milblogger, though there is an added consideration that such comments have the potential to undermine authority in a way that could get people hurt or killed.

That said, commands and commanders do have the right to monitor, and can order a blog shut down if they feel it necessary. While that has happened, and under circumstances that have reflected poorly on the command and the blogger in question about equally in my opinion, it is not the norm. Active duty milbloggers also have additional rules that might not apply to civilian counterparts, in that they have to write in such a way as to not violate rules of conduct and to be sure that they don’t appear to be speaking for any branch or the larger Department of Defense. The former can be hard, since much of that is subjective rather than objective, and has been used in questionable ways by various authorities on occasion. The latter is why you will see a disclaimer on all (good) milblogs that specify that they are speaking only for themselves and do NOT represent the government or any part thereof in any way, shape, or form.

Again, if you think the milblogs are in lockstep and propaganda, you really need to actually read them. There is a wide range of opinions, styles, and more. We hope you will join us, and learn more about the wide range of information and opinion available through your friendly local milblog.

What is a Milblog, and Why Should You Care?

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Aside from being asked what a blog is, the next question that comes up in talking with people — even other bloggers — is “What is a milblog?”  That’s a good question.

Milblogs are blogs about the military, or topics of interest to the military, by those associated with the military.  There are several “types” of milblog, most of which will be represented in the milblog track on Thursday at BWE.

Your classic milblog is one of two types.  The first is a blog by a serving member of the military who is deployed overseas.  Many of these were (or are) started by deployed troops to keep family and others updated on what they are doing, health, and other general information.  The second is a blog by former serving members, sharing news, information, and even discussion on events, policies, procedures, and more.  There is some interchangeability here, as deployed bloggers often morph into the second type of blog when they return home, and some who started as the latter morph into a deployed blog if they end up either going back onto active duty or otherwise find themselves overseas.

You also have Spouse Blogs, that is blogs written by the wives or husbands of those deployed.  As above, these can cover anything from what is happening on the homefront, so as to keep the deployed spouse up-to-date, or get into more discussion of policies, procedures, events and how they effect the family.  Some are not limited to that, but get into discussions of foreign policy, COIN, and other topics that are of interest to the people doing the milblog.

Finally, you have what can be described as support blogs.  These can be by individuals who support a particular unit; an individual who is doing something on a larger basis, such as teddy bears for the troops (real effort, BTW); non-profits who work to get mail or other support to the troops; or, efforts by companies and others to do things for the troops and their families.

Now comes the fun question:  Why should you care about milblogs?

If you truly want to know what is going on, both in a very localized sense or in broader terms in Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere, your best source of information is the milblogs.  The number of reporters dedicated to covering operations overseas has dropped dramatically in the last few years, and was not high to start with.  Some of the coverage provided by stringers is, frankly, poor to fraudulent.  Some of the coverage provided by general assignment reporters, often the case as newspapers and other traditional outlets eliminate specialty reporters (science, medical, and others, not just military), suffers from a lack of knowledge about the subject area.  Imagine someone knowing nothing of sports having to cover local football…  Some milblogs not only compile stories/links from other milblogs, they also get reports from troops in the field and even send their own reporters to embed with operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, and elsewhere.

Secondly, the military is not a monolith.  It is composed of individuals who have differing ideas, thoughts, and even personal goals.  The milblogs host a variety of discussions on topics ranging from who makes the best guitar to matters of military policy, such as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  These discussions are often freewheeling and almost always fun.

Third, when it comes to foreign policy and the conduct of the war, you will not find a better place for knowledgeable discussion of Counter-Insurgency (COIN), military operations, Rules of Engagement (ROE), and other topics crucial to both war and peace.

Fourth, if you want to know the real concerns of military families, of veterans, and others, then you need to check the milblogs.  Again, you will find a diversity of opinions, and ideas for fixing various problems, then you need to read the milblogs.  These are not academic discussions; rather, they are discussions by people living the issues and dealing with them 24/7.

Finally, if you truly do support the troops and want to help them out, the miblogs provide links to things that really do directly help the troops, their families, and our veterans.  From PTSD (and excellent discussions on same) to VA benefits, the milblogs provide a wealth of information, as well as opinion commentary on same.

This year, the milblog track will run all day Thursday 15 October.  We hope you will join us, and we may even have a surprise or two.  Keep in mind that the milbloggers are not all bloodthirsty savages what couldn’t get a real job for being so dumb (well, there is that Wolf character, but he’s the exception).  You might be surprised at what you find, from degrees to hobbies.  Be sure to check out the Army Milblog Lounge in the exhibit hall as well, where you can safely interact with milbloggers in a relaxed public setting if scared to talk with us in sessions.  🙂

Come meet us, and join in.  We even invite you to send in suggestions on what panels you might like to see at next year’s milblog track.

We look forward to meeting you.

Want To Attend the Milblog Track for Free?

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I love a good challenge. It gets things flowing, from endorphins onward.

Rick Calvert, founder and head of Blog World and New Media Expo, has issued a challenge. It seems Rick is convinced we can get 200 people to the milblog track on 15 October, quite a good number of people. So, he has challenged me to make it happen. So, here’s the deal:

1. If you are currently serving in the Armed Forces, or are a veteran of same (discharged or retired) and want to attend, drop me a line at blake at blakepowers dot n with BWE09 Free Registration in the subject line and a short note introducing yourself within, and you will get a code that gives you a free registration for the milblog track on 15 October, and access to the exhibit hall (and the Milblog Lounge) on the 16th & 17th.

2. If you are a military spouse, spouse blogger, military supporter, or reader of the milblogs, the same applies.

3. If you have a blog or other outlets of your own (Twitter, Facebook, newsgroups, e-mail groups, etc.), please spread the word.

4. If you happen to have contacts in blogging or old media in California, Nevada, or Arizona, please reach out to them as well, as we would very much like to be sure that we reach all the different bases in those regions.

I will also note that if you are interested in attending, there are some excellent deals on rooms and such through the Blog World site once you are registered.

While the registration only covers the milblog track and exhibit hall, if you want to attend parties, other sessions, etc., you can contact BWE after you register and see about the costs of upgrades. Also, a reminder to those already speaking and attending: if your spouse, SO, or other is coming with you and you want them to get in, be sure they register with one of the free codes so they can be badged.

Keep an eye on the grid at Blog World, as we are updating as needed and are still working on trying to make a surprise or two happen.

LW

The Milblog Lounge

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Come one, come all to the Army Milblog Lounge! I am pleased to announce that the U.S. Army has stepped forward and as a result, we have a 20×20 area in the exhibit hall, half of which will be configured as a comfortable area for discussions on milblogging and topics of interest to the milbloggers, from technology to music to more. In the days ahead, we hope to be telling you of events that will be taking place in the lounge portion, and the other portion is going to be more than merely interesting. But more on that later. If you need an area to record an interview or such, drop us a line and we may be able to make this area available to you for that. Otherwise, feel free to drop by and meet some of the milblooggers present. Remember, we are not all raving neanderthals of uncertain disposition (that’s just Uncle Jimbo *G*). You will find a variety of interests and a variety of interesting individuals. So, come join us at the Army Milblog Lounge in the Exhibit Hall

Coordinating Participants from Around The World

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One of the more interesting, and fun (honest) things about putting together the military blogging track is working with participants who vary a great deal. We literally are planning on having panelists participate from Afghanistan and else where. Adding to the mix is the fact that we even have one or more participants who are expecting, which may impact if they are there in person or take part in other ways. We are looking at phone, video, and even twitter to bring in remote participants. The technology used to share news, information, and discussion on a variety of topics is interesting, and will be an integral part of our panels. We hope you will join us at the milblog track on Thursday, and learn a bit more about us. In the days ahead, I will begin introducing you to some of our panelists. Also, we are going to be announcing some news here soon, so keep checking back. Meantime, if you’ve got questions, give a yell and I will do what I can to answer them. Also, you might check out http://laughingwolf.net and http://www.blackfive.net as I am going to be up to something the next couple of weeks that you might enjoy.

What Talks About

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food and drink, sports, weather, politics, travel, and the intricacies of counter-insurgency operations? Your friendly local milblog does, that’s who. Millbogs cover a variety of topics and issues, from reports from the front lines by those there doing the fighting to the challenges facing the spouses who hold down the homefront. In between, you find everything from posts, tweets, and comments on cooking to movies, automobiles to music, and travel to technology. You may be surprised by the range of topics expertly covered by the milblog community.

My name is Blake Powers, and I blog as Laughing Wolf and am Civilian-in-Residence at Blackfive milblog. I also am putting together the milblog track for this year’s Blog World and New Media Expo. The milblog community has a milblog conference to talk amongst ourselves. What we want to do here is introduce ourselves to you, invite you to join in our discussions, and — most importantly — help us to start planning next year’s panels.

We are not a closed track: anyone who wants to come and listen, engage in rational discourse, and just have a good time is welcome. If you have a suggestion for a panel for next year, something you would like to see discussed, drop a line and let me know.

Meantime, we have a full day lined up and — we hope — some surprises on the way. Our panels this year include:

• They Also Serve: Spouse Bloggers
• Best Milblogs You’ve Never Read
• Milblogs: Not Your Standard News Source
• Getting the Picture: What’s Next for Milblogs?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing more about these panels and the people participating in them. I will say up front that not all of our participants will be able to be present in person, but we are making arrangements for them to take part from around the world. I will also be introducing you to the participants, letting them introduce themselves and discuss things in their own words. As noted earlier, I also hope to have some surprises to mention.

Stay tuned, and I hope to see you at the milblog track.

LW

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