Feeds

Powerpoint is the big Army bandwidth hog, not YouTube

Milbloggers pushed aside in favour of PowerPoint and video conferencing

Boost IT visibility and business value

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.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
EE plonks 4G in UK Prime Minister's backyard
OK, his constituency. Brace yourself for EXTRA #selfies
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.