How does the increase in blog readers and writers affect the Navy? I can think of several reasons why blogs are good and bad for the Navy.
â€˘ Users can write anonymously. When a sailor comments on a blog post from ADM X and chooses to do so anonymously, that sailor isnâ€™t responding to advance his career or curry favor with the brass. He writes because he believes he has a good idea. If he writes well, his idea may induce change.
â€˘ High ranking officers can receive feedback instantaneously from all levels of the chain of command. In McCainâ€™s book â€śFaith of My Fathers,â€ť McCain lauded how his father, ADM McCain, had his staff meet one on one with low ranking sailors to elicit these sailorsâ€™ opinions. Now, any high ranking officer can post on his blog and receive comments from anyone with a computer and the impetus to write.
â€˘ When anybody can post anything, anytime, and anywhere, little is secret. I think blogs amplify the CNN effect. Everyone will follow the regulations a little closer knowing that his actions could be reported (anonymously) on a blog.
â€˘ Users can write anonymously. Without knowing a writerâ€™s background, you canâ€™t verify his experiences. A recent Economist article discussed how this anonymity allows people to fabricate facts and events on blogs for â€śLOLs.â€ť Other (non-Navy) blogs have begun linking blog posts to the userâ€™s Facebook accounts. While linking blog posts to Facebook accounts eliminates anonymityâ€™s positive effects, the blogs using this new technology have seen a decrease in the quantity of blog posts and an increase in quality.
â€˘ When anybody can post anything, anytime, and anywhere, little is secret. I donâ€™t pretend to have any data or statistics on this, but I do know that everyone makes mistakes. More chances to write oneâ€™s opinion means more chances to leak classified ship movements or operations into the world-wide-web.
â€˘ Blogs promotes the idea that itâ€™s okay to question authority. Yes, itâ€™s great to get feedback, but, in the end, the commanding officer is in charge. If sailors become accustomed to questioning orders on a blog, whether those orders came from LT Y or POTUS, then the hierarchical military structure breaks down. Knowing that his decisions could be posted online for the world to see could distort a commanderâ€™s judgment.
Like any change there are positive and negative effects. What really matters is how we as a Navy counter the negative effects.