It is highly ironic that the United States, which is the epicenter of new developments in technology and communications is getting upstaged technologically by its adversaries, as US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recently admitted in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations. Rumsfeld cited IM, e-mail, blogs, smartphones, digital cameras, and handheld video cameras as the tools of the trade, and talk shows, 24-hour news broadcasts, and satellite TV as the new battleground in the propaganda war and said that terrorist enemies have become more adept at using these new technologies than the US government in general and the Defense Department in particular.
Rumsfeld cited the riots in the Muslim word last year when Newsweek inaccurately reported that copies of the Quran were flushed down toilets at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. The news spread like wildfire (using the new technology tools) and led to deadly confrontations throughout the Middle East. Meanwhile, the US used due diligence to investigate and eventually discovered the charges were false, but the damage was already done.
The most poignant point in the speech from the embattled Rumsfeld was that the terrorists are using these new tools to spread their message 24/7, while the Pentagon PR office only works 9-5 on Monday through Friday.
Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.