Catch of the Day: A failure of imagination
By Rafe Needleman
October 8, 2001
There are reports that the failure of U.S. intelligence to protect the country against hijacked planes being used as missiles was not so much a lapse of information-gathering, but rather a failure to put together existing data in a way that made the threat clear.
There are, however, government projects in which innovative software is being applied to this problem. I recently talked to people from two companies, Digital Harbor and TheBrain Technologies, both of which make tools that package information in new ways.
At 06:35 PM 10/4/01 -0700, you wrote:
On Thu, 4 Oct 2001, Eric Armstrong wrote:
> As a result, I do find myself experiencing the same frustration that the
> undoubtedly lives with -- we know the answer is in there somewhere, but
> our chances of finding it are negligible.
> What I find most interesting, in this respect, is that system we need to
> the "putting it together" design problem may be exactly what the
> community needs to solve the "putting it together"
I'm currently reading a fantastic book on this very topic:
Treverton, Gregory F. _Reshaping National Intelligence for an Age of
Information_. Cambridge University Press 2001.
Treverton was formerly the Vice Chair of the National Intelligence
"Cold War intelligence lived in a world where information was scarce;
it relied on "secrets" not otherwise available. Its business was
those secrets. Now, though, it faces an era of information.
Information and its sources are mushrooming, and so are the
technologies for moving information rapidly around the globe. Given
these circumstances, the business of intelligence is no longer just to
provide secrets; rather, its business is to produce high-quality
understanding of the world using all sources." -p2
"The onset of an age of information has enabled dramatic changes that
encompass the end of communism, the onset of the "market state," with
accompanying transformations in the roles of government and of private
actors, the rise of emerging states, and the proliferation of
non-state actors. Intelligence now has many targets, not one; many
consumers, not just a few; and vast amounts of information that is to
a great extent unreliable, not a scarcity of information that mainly
comes from satellites or spies and is therefore regarded as accurate."
The parallels between what Treverton writes about throughout the book and
what Doug has been talking about for years are striking, to say the least.
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This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0.0 : Mon Oct 08 2001 - 14:51:13 PDT