Saturday, May 31, 2008

Who Are The Female Candidates For DNI? (CQ Politics)

Jeff Stein, writing for CQ Politics, has an interesting article about potential female candidates for DNI after the elections this year. He lists quite a few names including Frances Townsend, Joan Dempsey, Maureen Baginski, Mary Margaret Graham, Jami Miscik, Jane Harman, Sue Myrick and Valerie Plame. The article seems to suggest that Mary Margaret Graham (pictured here) is the top candidate among the female contenders.

It is not clear to me that the DNI will necessarily change after the elections, however. Obama has indicated that he favors a fixed term for the DNI (sort of like the Chairman of the Federal Reserve) and both Obama and McCain might see the value of consistency in the DNI position.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Environmental Intelligence (DotGovWatch)

DotGovWatch, a blog about government activities, is featuring a "mash-up" (a combination of two or more online databases into a single product) today that combines the Google Maps software with the EPA's Toxic Release Inventory. The result is a scary but useful map of US Toxic Air Emissions in 2006.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

African Economic Outlook (OECD)

The Organization for Economic Cooperation And Development recently published its latest version of the African Economic Outlook. The website is quite detailed with full breakdowns by many countries and a comprehensive statistical annex. The projections go through the rest of 08 and 09.

Normally, I would break down the key findings but the OECD has done me one better by not only capturing the highlights but also by putting them in a 3 minute video...

Related Posts:
Non-State Actors In Sub-Saharan Africa: Likely Current And Future Roles
Excellent African Map Source

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Background Brief And Prediction Market Combo Makes For Interesting Intel (

Impact Games (the makers of the award winning serious game, Peacemaker) has launched a new service that combines an interactive background briefing on a topic of current news interest with a prediction market engine allowing the user to "Play The News".

Each of the Play The News "games" follows the same pattern. The background briefing (done using a flash-based interface) lays out the essential details of the story and the identifies the stakeholders in the story. Next, there is a short current news video and the game frames the essential question(s) for the player to answer. In an interesting twist, the players can often pick which side of the story they want to play. For example, in the game embedded below, players can choose to play either the Russian side or the Georgian side.

Once the briefings are over and the player chooses a side, the game then asks the player one or more questions about the future of the current situation. Again, the game adds an interesting twist, asking the player both what should happen and what will likely happen (Note: The prediction feature is only available to registered users but registration is painless). The game then shows the player the aggregated results from all other players. Finally, the company drops you an email to let you know if you were correct or not when the results are finally known.

I was particularly impressed by the choice of news stories covered. Most of the games focused on world news and many of those on stories that receive scant coverage elsewhere. In all, I found it to be an extremely engaging way to get personally involved in a current news event.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Tag Galaxy: Another Unique Way To View Flickr Photos (Tag Galaxy via Information Aesthetics)

Information Aesthetics blogged about a new tool for searching for Flickr photos by tag called Tag Galaxy. The flash-based online application searches the Flickr tag set and then displays the results as a solar system with the main tag as the sun. Clicking on the planets (or the sun) zooms in on the pictures associated with that tag. The application is probably not as useful as CompFight but it is pretty cool to play around with. Below is a screenshot of the tags associated with the word "enigma".

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Lovely Spring In Erie Found Courtesy Of Compfight (Compfight Via ReadWriteWeb)

Spring in Erie has really been very nice this year. The flowers have been spectacular and we have had a number of warm, clear days and cool, but pleasant, nights. I was looking at the last of my dogwood blossoms out of my window and thinking about uploading some pictures just to show everyone that Erie wasn't some sort of bleak, frozen, icebox of a place and I realized I had not taken any really good pictures this year.

Along comes CompFight (via an article in ReadWriteWeb), a tool that lets you more easily search the vast Flickr image pool for free-to-use Creative Commons (and other types) of pictures. Here are a couple of pictures showing the two things almost everyone takes a picture of in Erie, some of the wildlife at Put-in Bay at Presque Isle and one of our magnificent sunsets (Click on the links for more info about the pictures).