On September 18, 1996, the inaugural edition of American Diplomacy (AD), Volume One, Number One was published. It was the launching of an electronic journal on commentary, analysis and research on foreign policy and its practice--available only on line.
My guess is that at the time, the founders of American Diplomacy did not envision the publication would still be going strong twenty years later. But it is--thanks to lot of hard work from a solid cadre of volunteer board members, talented, knowledgeable contributing authors and a combination of loyal and new readership. I should also mention the generous financial support from our board of directors and a grant from the Nelson B. Delavan Foundation.
Visits to the AD website total almost 400,000 a year. Subscribers receiving notices about new material are located in more than 50 countries. Among the prestigious institutions recognizing the journal as an educational resource are Harvard, Columbia and Georgetown Universities as well as the research collection of the Library of Congress.
Some followers may have already heard the story of how American Diplomacy was conceived in the home of a retired Foreign Service Officer in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. A handful of Foreign Service retirees formulated the idea over a shared lunch of ordered-in-pizza.
The irony of this account is that historically the State Department has been behind the curve on computer technology. We in the Department have never been known for our computer savvy--certainly not back in 1996. Thus, making it even more remarkable that twenty years ago, a small group of retired U.S. diplomats in Chapel Hill, NC could come up with the unique concept of an online journal devoted to international affairs. These were folks who had spent most of their career years using a typewriter not a desktop computer.
I recommend the AD article, "Technology and Foreign Affairs: the Case of the Typewriter" by Henry E. Mattox in the October to December 1997 edition, which chronicles the span of 100 years of the use of the typewriter in State Department and Foreign Service--and, the initial resistance to the typewriter versus handwritten pen-and-ink communications.
Speaking of outdated, I still like to turn real pages from time to time; so, I was delighted to recently learn of the existence a spiral-bound printed version of the first edition- plus printed copies up until the winter of 2000.
Perhaps the founders maintained copies in print in the early years because...