Feeds

Powerpoint is the big Army bandwidth hog, not YouTube

Milbloggers pushed aside in favour of PowerPoint and video conferencing

Top three mobile application threats

Analysis The US forces' apparent moves to block frontline troops from accessing online media have been strongly criticised, and not just on free-speech grounds.

US military bloggers, or "milbloggers", were at first, apparently, savagely muzzled - you didn't hear that here - and then supposedly freed to write again, as the US Army downplayed an April operational security document which seemed to mean that every blog post had to be run past a superior in advance.

The initial story, broken by Wired, was something of a storm in a teacup. US Army operational security regs don't necessarily affect US Marines, for instance, and certainly not British troops. This was hardly the blanket clampdown that many mainstream media types have made it out to be (there was much tearful speculation among the bow-tie crowd at the recent Blooker Prize ceremonies that Colby Buzzell's 2004 warblog compilation would be the last pukka e-testimony out of the combat zones).

But the fact is that few frontline military bloggers work anonymously, and most would find this extremely difficult if they did attempt it. Thus, they are effectively writing with their superiors' consent anyway.

Moving on, only a small proportion of "milbloggers" are serving military. An even smaller proportion of those are identifiable, genuine boots-on-ground operators with a gritty story to tell and no concern for their superiors' opinion or military necessities. Buzzell was a rare example of just that, and funnily enough he is no longer a soldier but a writer.

It isn't that real combat soldiers can't or don't get online while in theatre, but in common with the rest of us they tend to waste a lot of time surfing porn or downloading music. When they feel like getting their thoughts down in writing, they're rather more likely to get onto a forum than they are to set up a blog. This is inconvenient for news reporters, who have to wade through acres of forum babble from other denizens to get to the good stuff from the front lines, but it's the reality.

Even once a real fighting soldier is online and writing, it's really hard to see how his (maybe her) testimony is any better or more valid than that from an embedded reporter in that unit. There is lots of excellent stuff available, at least as likely to give you the view from the front lines as trawling the milblogs.

Sometimes military people can be excellent whistleblowers, of course, and sometimes the internet can help with this, but the same old problems of confidentiality and conflict of interest are still there. Journalists still have to verify, cross-check, and protect their sources; blogs, forums et al aren't magic.

This is all bad news for editors and publishers hoping to ride the Web 2.0 wave and get great content for nothing. But it really is the case that if you want pukka war stories, you need to send actual reporters to the war zone. It wouldn't cost any more than bribing confused youngsters to sign made-up hostage captivity stories, after all.

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.