Friday, July 20, 2012
Many, if not all of you, likely saw the profile of myself and Information Dissemination on Wired Magazine's Danger Room. Like all profile articles in media, it cannot possibly tell the whole story, indeed journalists write articles for publications, not books. From my point of view, it is difficult to tell the story of Information Dissemination without mentioning Cappy Surette.
The first Navy public affairs officer to reach out to me as a blogger was Cappy. A few years ago CDR Salamander told me Cappy was one of the first to reach out to him as well. This was long before social media was popular, long before the Navy integrated social media into their own activities, and long before the trends in news information were notably trending towards social discussions. On more than one occasion, Cappy found ways to convince me that I needed to attend certain events, and he was very convincing.
I met Cappy in Durham, NC at the last of the Conversations with the Country tour of CS-21 in 2008. He wanted me to have lunch with Frank Thorp, CHINFO at the time, and wanted me to see what CS-21 was from their perspective. Later that year, he was who pushed for me to get on USS Freedom (LCS 1), basically making me the first 'blogger' the Navy treated like media. Keep in mind that this was still at a time where I was writing under a pseudonym - the world still only knew me as Galrahn, but to Cappy I was Raymond.
Like every interesting sailor, Cappy has great stories. For those of you who run into Cappy as he moves on to the next chapter of his life, should you see him - ask about the picture above. Yes, that is a beret. The ship is off Iraq in 1994, and the number of stories he can tell about that tour are likely endless, and can lead to any number of stories related to job, love, and life.
I wish Cappy the very best. This blog would never be what it is today if it wasn't for people like Cappy, who pushed experience, offered credibility my direction, and enabled my exposure and learning process with the US Navy in ways that the information highway simply can't do. The popularity of Information Dissemination is a manifestation of a lot of circumstances and people. USNI has had a huge influence in promoting the Navy online and Information Dissemination in particular, but indeed people in the US Navy are responsible as well - and it is in part because public affairs folks like Cappy Surette did little things along the way like elevate a small blog with an anonymous author by lending it the credibility of the Navy Information Office, and treating the blog and author as an equal among established media.
Have you ever seen a blog post in CLIPS? If you have, thank Cappy Surette, who long before the Navy dominated military discussions in non-news social media, argued for the inclusion of blog articles in a CHINFO establishment that didn't care much about social media at the time.
In the complex fabric of social network design and how that impacts the credibility of information sources, what Cappy did for Information Dissemination and the greater Navy social media community dating back to even before I met him in 2008 was at least as important as everything we the community were trying to do, and I hope he understands how much I truly appreciate his efforts, because in my opinion he deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the active visibility and engaged community the Navy has today through social networks like Information Dissemination that he helped promote as part of the Navy Information establishment. It may not have been his intention, but the results are what they are.
Congratulations to Captain Cappy Surette on a very successful career. You have long been a visionary among Navy PAOs and based on the results of my research into the subject, and you should be rightfully credited as the first Navy PAO to truly challenge the Navy on issues related to the impacts and benefits of social media, and the PAO who engaged the Navy online community in a meaningful way. The Navy enjoys a very strong traditional information market because of folks like United States Naval Institute and news magazines like Navy Times, but I also believe the US Navy enjoys a very healthy online discussion other services do not, primarily because of the work Captain Surette did to develop and foster opinions related to social media inside the Navy, even when they weren't necessarily being accepted by his superiors at that time.