Journalism Insights from Intelligence Analysis

kentbye's picture
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Blogging is forcing the decentralizion of the media and politics, and the National Security establishment is going through a very similar revolution. The critical difference is that the intelligence agencies don't have to worry about sustaining business models, and they're getting a ton of research and development money to figure out how to use the latest technological insights from the blogosphere in order to better gather data, analyze it and disseminate actionable judgments.

Speaking about the future of the media, Lance Knobel said, "For success, you need to be constantly finding new ways to do things. That’s where we are with media today."

Well, I would suggest that the field of journalism needs to take a look at some of the innovations that are being openly published by defense contractors funded by the huge US intelligence budget.

I’ve taken some preliminary stabs at this here and here. But another place to start would be to look through some of the many of the papers presented at the most recent International Conference on Intelligence Analysis (also well-archived by cryptome here).

I'm able to interpret a lot of the academic speak due to my electrical engineering training -- I thought I'd lay out some metaphors to help others dig into a lot of these innovations that could be applied to journalism in order to save it's legitimacy and credibility.

I see A LOT of parallels between the latest developments of distributed citizen journalism and what the intelligence world calls "Decentralized Data Fusion for Horizontal Integration of Intelligence Data"

The intelligence world is on the cutting edge of applying folksonomy tagging systems used by flickr and del.icio.us by creating "A Semantic Visualization Tool for Knowledge Discovery and Exploration in a Collaborative Environment."

The intelligence world is also giving a lot of insights into how to organize & analyze textual information by using folksonomy tags in what they'd term "Semantic Web Enabled Collaborative Agents for Supporting Analyst Teams"

Or what about an intelligence system called SAVANT that:

includes a Knowledge Prepositioning System (KPS) that allows all forms of intelligence content (models, simulations data, text, videos, events, etc.), to be stored, tagged (both metadata and security qualifiers), managed, and maintained.

How do you find the truth from the mass of perspectives provided the blogosphere? And how do you collaborate with others in sharing information when there are many different competing perspectives? "A Distributed Dynamic Intelligence Aggregation Method" has a number of insights.

What I see as the major roadblock for journalism is information overload. There is a lot of data collection and distribution of nuggets of information -- an endless stream of facts -- but there isn't a lot of quality analysis going on.

As Knobel says, "We also need 'people who make a practice of thinking, knowing and understanding.'"

We need a press that does more deep thinking and deep knowing and deep understanding.

This takes time and effort, but this can be solved by harnessing the swarm intelligence of the blogosphere. How? Maybe through a New Media Ecosystem that integrates more sophisticated analytical techniques developed by US intelligence agencies.

The defense contractors to the US intelligence agencies can provide a lot of solutions to the challenges facing journalism. A lot of these insights are too complicated to be implemented by large institutions. But at some point, someone from the fringes of the network is going to put some of these insights into practice -- and I hope that I can be a part of it as I've laid out in the Roadmap for this project.