Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


Sharing the secrets

Niels over at Nillers Notesblog made me aware the other day, that the American intelligence community has started using "Intellipedia" - an internal wiki. Apparently the wiki is shared among a number of intelligence agencies, has 3600 users and layered in terms of access - you will have a clearance from "sensitive" to "top secret", just like when accessing regular intelligence material. The LA Times mentions that the Wiki has been used for reporting on Nigeria and for discussions on North Korea.

This is really a promising technology: One of the most common problems in intelligence systems being stovepiping, information clogging up on its way from point a to b. A wiki is an interesting combination of push and pull: You can search for the information that you need for a report, as well as start a thread where you seek certain information or add your own to active posts being discussed and created within your field of expertise. In the Intellipedia you apparently have to sign with your own name - a very understandable precaution, even in a closed system.

The big challenge of using a wiki as I imagine it, is to keep all information fresh and updated: Imagine a post on the acquisition of a new weapon system in Iran. A few months later that technology is utterly forgotten or irrelevant, the wiki-post not being updated as all attention is elsewhere. Suddenly, a few years later, the system in question rears it head again after a long periode of slow development. Now your wiki-post is being digged out again and used right off the slate if you are in a hurry, thereby using old information that has not been updated, despite the fact that the information to do so has been there.

Then on the other hand: that is also the problem if you have the information in a Word-file on your own computer. Intellipedia could turn out to be a technology that finally solves the problem that intelligence services has had after the technological revolution: Too much data and too little sharing.

In LA Times Michael Wertheimer, assistant deputy director of national intelligence for analysis says:

"I think in the future you'll press a button and this will be the NIE". (National Intelligence Estimate).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You wrote about Intellipedia "In the Intellipedia you apparently have to sign with your own name - a very understandable precaution, even in a closed system."

Yes, why? It is a serious project, and it is credible, by credible people, with safeguards in place. People post there with their own verified real names to take honest credit for what they write and post.

It isn't Wikipedia, where any idiot can sign on, sit and write libel all day, under fake names -to hide. There is a huge difference. If Wikipedia required ID verification then they would be in a position to gain crediblity but they haven't. Well, 99.9% of the people who sit on Wikipedia are hiding, and are making them money by writing that stuff for free (I guess you do get what you pay for.) Why do people hide? It says everything about the project, and the poster. Now the surprise, what hiding posters on Wikipedia don't realize is that today they will be found out, and in the case of libel, once they are sued, it is their own libelous postings that solidly prove to be very very costly to them in court.

2/7/08 14:17


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