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Intelligence analysis needs a chief disruption officer and an infusion of Media 2.0 thinking and technology

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The thought of a Chief Disruption Officer at the top of the intel community's analysis arm with a brief offering the capacity to innovate and the authority to roll over a fiefdom or two is almost too heady a thought, akin to the hope that open source analysis might actually gain a peer place at the intel table. (Open source does work; example: against the context of Chinese hiring Daewoo staff (also here) during a tableau of unrest at Daewoo, it took only three pieces of data for this analyst to deduce that the Chevy Spark mathdata was stolen in Korea and not in China as so many assumed. Knowing where narrowed our search, securing more documentation was easy.)

David Berlind coined "Chief Disruption Officer" as a better title for eBay's new position of Senior Director of Disruptive Innovation designed to both disrupt current eBay assumptions that have seen its user experience atrophy and innovate eBay into a new "buyer experience and social commerce" that goes beyond UI and into overall user capacity to interact with eBay and other users.

As Berlind described how eBay had already seen "the Web trend away from experiences based on Web flows (fill out form, submit, fill out another form, submit, etc.) and more towards a rich experience," and was intent on extending the LinkedIn trust model to get information to a consumer/recipient that the creator may not even know:

[Defining Social Commerce] as "sharing information to create new trust models" [eBay wants to] apply the "Kevin Bacon rule" as it's known to commerce [to use] the same chain of mutual acquaintances [to] automate the introduction to a seller [who] is trusted by someone I know (or by someone else that someone I know knows).

What an execellent capacity for the intel environment I thought, but realized that these are all examples of Web 2.0 technology, technology that the intel community has yet to apply in any meaningful, systemic manner. Worse, Web 2.0 technology is now considered sufficiently mature in the public sector that clients "preferred delivery for these Web 2.0 technologies [through] integrated product suites [because] these corporations are concerned with integrating new tools with the software from their existing suppliers." But even mainline 2007 commercial users are behind the curve as:

CIOs were most likely to view social networking and blogs as unnecessary, with a little more than half of respondents reporting as such," according to Forrester. "The Web 2.0 technologies that had relatively clear user benefits, RSS, wikis, and tagging, were less likely to be viewed as unnecessary.

Not yet grasping Media 2.0, these CIOs are still attempting to implement Web 2.0 whose notable characteristics are "mashups, communities and setting up neat little feeds [in a] plug and play functionality" in a mostly unidirectional one-to-many conversation instead of reaping the benefits of a rich, polydirectional many-to-many conversation. This is being done even as the venture capital community sees Web 2.0 as passe for significant investment. (Beyond this citation, Peter Rip's EarlyStageVC is worth the read.)

Appalling state of current intel analyst tools

Now read Clive Thompson's Open-Source Spying which is largely built from two items in Studies in Intelligence, September 2005: The Wiki and the Blog: Toward a Complex Adaptive Intelligence Community and How the Web Can Relieve Our Information Glut and Get Us Talking to Each Other. As a former analyst, it pains me to see how little the concepts of blogs and wikis have penetrated the intel community, yet they could provide a massive boost to speed, contextuality, and interpretation - and that applies to the commercial sector as well as the intel community.

Yes, there is a missing link to this process that I am surprised more practitioners have yet to tumble - the addition of a superavatar. We and our colleagues were early integrators of blogs and wikis but we had solved the problem of ""culling the daily tips":

The whole reason the [system] works [is] that experts have a top-down view that is essential to picking the important information out of the surrounding chatter. The grass roots, they’ve found, are good at collecting threats but not necessarily at analyzing them. If a lot of low-level analysts are pointing to the same inaccurate posting, that doesn’t make it any less wrong.

The key is to have very smart people culling the daily tips… "The terrorist problem has the worst signal-to-noise ratio"… Without the knowledge that comes from long experience, he added, a fledgling analyst or spy cannot know what is important or not. The counterterrorism center, he said, should decide which threats warrant attention. "That’s our job"...

Leaving aside middle management fears of a "freewheeling, smart-mobbing intelligence community," resistance centered around the limited number of 'skilled individuals' to cull wheat from chaff. There are not enough good, fast humans to 'cull' all the overlapping subject areas, especially under highly perishable timeframes. Often it is the odd outlier datum that is an emerging flag that top-down cullers would snuff.

So who said these skilled individuals had to be human? A number of us saw that the active integration and synthesis of the superavatar (an application that gathers and examines a broad range of information) which inserts its distillations back into the blogosphere as one more commentator could greatly improve analysis. The avatar can cull, can look for links (analyst to document, analyst to analyst, analyst to null (not looking at what they should be)). Add the superavatar and wikis and blogs bulk up immediately.

Changes in culture, youth culture, as great as technology

If you are over 25, perhaps even over 20, you need to read Emily Nussbaum's Say Everything as you are undoubtedly clueless as to how your children communicate, their ability to shape their online persona in a multimedia manner out of reach even a few years ago, their expectations for what I might call hyper-rich media environments, even their culture itself. (I had to be tipped to it by Xeni Jardin at one of the reconstructor sites that I track, Boing Boing.)

 If you care nothing about intel matters, you should still read this item as you will, at a minimum, be shortly hiring them - and that includes the intel community which is still dragging bottom is trying to insert the likes of blogs into its environment. (And while there were 50+ million blogs, two created every second, in August 2006 and 70 million in March 2007, that medium is now getting long in the tooth for many of its producer/consumers.) Say Everything cites three changes in this demographic that may be hardwired, i.e., it is imprinted and will not be surrendered:

  1. THEY THINK OF THEMSELVES AS HAVING AN AUDIENCE
  2. THEY HAVE ARCHIVED THEIR ADOLESCENCE
  3. THEIR SKIN IS THICKER THAN YOURS

If I've not yet temped you to read Say Everything, then jump to its inset item called MEET CAITLIN OPPERMANN where you will "Read one teen's MySpace page, view her Facebook, scan her IM messages, visit her personal website, and more." Now if you are an intel officer, think that this was created by a teenager who shares it widely. Now think how little you as an analyst can create, visualize, disseminate and gain feedback. Think what happens when these young adults become your entry level analysts in just a few years. Worse, think how fast your domestic and foreign terrorist opponents will adapt these tools to their widening command & control (C2/C3) networks (examples here, here and here). Apply Boyd's OODA loop with its implication of successively faster decision cycles by your opponent and you have them on your tail instead of in your sights.

We don't have sufficient tools for today's analysts and we certainly don't have them for new entrants that already expect to be heard, expect to take a position and are more willing to confront and question. (TheGORB.com already generates blunt rating and assessing of professional character.)

Implications of Media 2.0

Tim O'Reilly's What Is Web 2.0 remains the one-stop-shop definition of two generations of internet apps; written in Sept 2005 it is still vibrant and underpins Media 2.0. Move to Troy Young's short This is Media 2.0. To keep abreast of Media 2.0, you need to be reading Richard MacManus' Read/Write Web, Jeff Jarvis' BuzzMachine, John Hagel's Edge Perspectives with John Hagel and Umair Haque's Bubbleggeneration Strategy Lab.

Ben Hunt's The future web2.0 social experience is a vision of a "next-generation web that is just as simple and flexible as web 1.0, but more interconnected and powerful [incorporating] a universe of connections that reflects the real-life links between people, organisations, services, products, web sites, and other entities."

While Jeff Jarvis flagged some essential Umair Haque items in late 2005, one has scrolled off, a replacement has appeared and some new have appeared. As a non-expert in the field, here is my essential reading from Umair (at least read Media 2.0):

With those under your belt, you should read these two PPT presentations:

Umair Haque's Bubblegeneration made seminal contributions to Media 2.0 and micromedia in The New Economics of Media, yet there are too many as yet unfamiliar with his work. In Media 2.0, he asks readers to answer these questions to "get started thinking about Media 2.0":

To what extent are microplatforms, micromedia, and aggregators and reconstructors a substitute or a complement for production, publishing/marketing, and distribution in my value chain?

How can I use micromedia platforms strategically, to build resources and capabilities which drive a sustained competitive advantage across my products, services, or businesses?

To what extent is increased micromedia penetration likely to erode the power of publishers, distributors, and marketers in my value chain, and shift value to the edges?

If the questions seem strange, you have some remedial work to do. My fear is that few to none inside the intel community are posing, worse, even aware of, these questions. I'd like to be wrong but based on prior history, it is likely that I am not. This opens the door to our more nimble opponents - some of whom we still stupidly diminish as "rag heads" - who can use open source tools for Web 2.0 and emerging Media 2.0 applications to develop their intel capacities.

A work in progress

Social networking has already moved to its next phase; Andreessen's Ning offers customers customization, control and flexibility:

Andreessen predicts that people will want to create more niche sites for people with similar pursuits and interests, and the MySpaces of the world will be too big to meet their special needs. MySpace and similar sites allow users to post their profiles on individual pages. Such sites control the advertising on those pages, as well as much of the technological functions of the pages.

MySpace has moved into conventional news while Salesforce is taking "the concepts behind the highly successful social networking site MySpace [to] apply them to the business world."

Umair Haque points out Media 2.0 is still in its early stages. I have great sympathy with his comments on reconstructors as I read a great number of them in order to cover a wide variety of topics in the shortest time. Speaking of meme sites such as Memeorandum (politics) and Techmeme (technical), Umair noted:

I luv Memeorandum and all it's reconstructor cousins. It's one of the first things of my reading list. It's hugely slashed my search costs in finding new stuff. But there's a problem. Ever since I've started using it to the point where it replaces many of my other sources, I have gotten stupider. I can feel it - I don't think as fast, flexibly, or freely.

This is a well-known phenomenon in psych and econ - I've been locking myself into a diet of reinforcing information. Nothing really challenges my beliefs, and so I get hyperpolarized, or echo-chambered, sure - but the deeper effect is that I also get stupid, fast.

Part of the reason is that all the attention markets, reconstructors, etc push all the same stuff to the top - they all converge to the same equilbirum. Paradoxically, it's an environment of incredible diversity, but incredible sameness at the same time.

But the larger reason is that none of these reconstructors are really broad enough yet, and so reconstructing microchunks into coherent wholes is still pretty shabby. This is the where discontinuous value will be created - and surprisingly, the market gap is still open.

I have to fight this battle daily, balancing the desire to cover many topics while still looking for the outlier data, the funny data that points to something new, something not yet floated to the top.

I can't wait for Media 2.0 tools; the upside is that I am in the commercial sector and thus have a chance to see them emerge from a competitive market. I fear that my colleagues still in the community will have to wait far, far longer - and many of the new entrants may leave because they cannot tolerate the gap.

Companies like Web 2.0 tech--but from big vendors
Forrester Research study finds businesses are hungry for tools like blogs, wikis and podcasts, but want them integrated into suites
By Martin LaMonica
CNET
March 22, 2007, 9:48 AM PDT

In search of the creator of the first blog
Blogging has been around for a decade now--depending on how you define it and whom you ask.
By Declan McCullagh and Anne Broache
CNET
March 20, 2007, 4:00 AM PDT

Web 3.0: When Web Sites Become Web Services
Written by Alex Iskold
Read/WriteWeb
March 19, 2007

Salesforce.com readies its take on MySpace
AppSpace hosted portal will be part of the Spring 07 release of Salesforce's hosted CRM software
By China Martens, IDG News Service
March 19, 2007

Me vs NYT at OPA re WWGD
Jeff Jarvis
BuzzMachine
posted on Sunday, March 18th, 2007 at 6:46 am

Nisenholtz vs Jarvis: The Middle Ground of Journalists vs Bloggers
Posted by Rafat Ali
Paid Content
17 Mar 2007 05:18 PM PST

If others think poorly or well of you (personally or professionally), TheGORB.com will tell you
Posted by David Berlind @ 3:35 pm
Berlind's Testbed
March 9, 2007

News as a social play: Here comes MySpace News!
Terry Heaton
Terry Heaton’s PoMo Blog
posted on Thursday, March 8th, 2007 at 6:54 am

Video: eBay’s Chief Disruption Officer: UI to eBay’s "commerce operating system" could be left to others
Posted by David Berlind @ 1:15 pm
Berlind's Testbed
March 5, 2007

Social Networking’s Next Phase
By BRAD STONE
New York Times
March 3, 2007

Andreessen's Ning.com takes on MySpace
By Greg Sandoval
February 27, 2007, 5:08 PM PST

Say Everything
As younger people reveal their private lives on the Internet, the older generation looks on with alarm and misapprehension not seen since the early days of rock and roll. The future belongs to the uninhibited.
By Emily Nussbaum
New York Magazine
February 12, 2007 issue

Open-Source Spying
By CLIVE THOMPSON
New York Times
December 3, 2006

Up to the job? How India and China risk being stifled by a skills squeeze
By Richard McGregor
FT
July 20 2006 03:00 | Last updated: July 20 2006 03:00

China Carmakers' Global Talent Hunt
By Dexter Roberts
Business Week
June 19, 2006

STANDARDS, PARTICLES, and the age of INSIDIOUS MICROMEDIA
Dan Klyn
Information Architect
SES CANADA
April 25, 2006

Media Futures: on rebundling and intermediaries
Richard MacManus
Read/Write Web
April 12, 2006

ABC and the Future of Media
Posted by John Hagel
Edge Perspectives with John Hagel
April 11, 2006

How Not to Think Strategically About the Future of Media, pt 193941
Umair Haque
Bubbleggeneration Strategy Lab
April 10, 2006

This is Media 2.0
Troy Young
UX Magazine
10 Mar 2006

The Problems With 2.0, pt 345314
Umair Haque
Bubbleggeneration Strategy Lab
January 26, 2006

Media 2.0 101
Jeff Jarvis
Buzz Machine
November 26th, 2005

Media 1.0 vs Media 2.0
Umair Haque
Bubbleggeneration Strategy Lab
November 06, 2005

Media 2.0
Umair Haque
Bubbleggeneration Strategy Lab
Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Peer Production
Umair Haque
Bubbleggeneration Strategy Lab
November 08, 2005

Edge Competences and the Post-Network Economy
Umair Haque
Bubbleggeneration Strategy Lab
November 18, 2005

Edge Competencies
Umair Haque
Bubbleggeneration Strategy Lab
January 12, 2006

Network Economics & Web 2.0
Umair Haque
Bubbleggeneration Strategy Lab
November 08, 2005

The Attention Economy
Umair Haque
Bubbleggeneration Strategy Lab
November 08, 2005

Edge Competences and Media 2.0: Newspapers Mini Case Study
Umair Haque
Bubbleggeneration Strategy Lab
November 17, 2005

What Is Web 2.0
Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software
by Tim O'Reilly
O'Reilly
09/30/2005

The Wiki and the Blog: Toward a Complex Adaptive Intelligence Community
D. CALVIN ANDRUS
Studies in Intelligence, Vol 49, No 3
Central Intelligence Agency
September 2005

How the Web Can Relieve Our Information Glut and Get Us Talking to Each Other
Matthew S. Burton
Studies in Intelligence, Vol 49, No 3
Central Intelligence Agency
September 2005

The New Economics of Media
Micromedia, Connected Consumption, and the Snowball Effect
Umair Haque
Bubbleggeneration Strategy Lab
Spring 2005

The Age of Plasticity
Edge Competences and Network Economics 2.0
Umair Haque
Bubbleggeneration Strategy Lab
Summer 2005

Making Cars by Making Nice
By MICHAEL SCHUMAN/BUPYEONG
TIME
Monday, Sep. 09, 2002

Gordon Housworth



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