Saturday, February 21, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
I am going to try to do a little bit of spring cleaning today. Most of the time I post interesting sites that I don't have time to write about in the "SAM's Shared Items" box in the right hand column of this blog. Some sites, though, I tag for writing about later as full posts ... and then promptly forget about them.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Developed by a Japanesse based team of international scientists, BioCaster is an attempt to text mine a number of open source data streams for breaking information about communicable diseases worldwide and then plot them in an easy-to-access/manipulate format on a Google map.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
One of the assignments I give the grad students in my Intelligence Communications class is to write a Wikipedia article on something that is both "intelligence related" and that has not been covered before on Wikipedia. Last year's class generated a good crop of articles and this year's class -- while extending the definition of "intelligence-related" somewhat -- is no different. The articles recently posted include:
- World Basic Information Library
- Document Exploitation
- Violent Crime Impact Teams
- Robert J. Heibel
- US Joint Intelligence Community Council
- Richards Heuer
- Robert Townsend (spy)
- Analytic Confidence
- Institute Of Nuclear Material Management
- Benjamin Gilad
- John Brown, Jr.
- PDD - 62
- Vision 2015
- Barbara Lauwers
Second, I want them to experience a "critical audience". Students rarely have to attempt to please anyone other than a professor and they soon learn to game the prof (no tut-tutting from the cheap seats; we have all been there...). Wikipedia, in my experience, actually has an intelligent and varied group of editors who often critically review (in the discussion tab) articles.
Some of the criticism is warranted and some is downright wrong. Learning how to distinguish the two is an important skill in my estimation. Even when these editors don't engage a particular article, the mere possibility that they might tends to raise the bar in ways that provide for a unique learning experience.
Third, I have often thought that the quantity of intelligence related material on Wikipedia is fairly low. What is there is often good but there seems (to me) to be big holes where you would expect someone to have written at least something on the topic.
Filling some of these holes (remember, I only allow students to cover topics about which nothing has been written), seems to be a good way for graduate students to add something useful (even if it is only an outline) to their discipline and to the resource which Wikipedia has become.
Finally, most of our students go on to work inside the US national security community somewhere and I am well-aware that Intellipedia uses the same platform (MediaWiki) as Wikipedia. It seems to make sense, from an educational standpoint, that our students learn how to use that software before they get into the community.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Andrew Abela, author of the Extreme Presentation Method, has a very interesting graphic that offers some ideas about the best kind of chart to use when displaying a particular kind of data or relationship.
You can get a feel for what the full graphic looks like in the image below. To get the full picture just click on the link above or the picture itself and you can get the full download.
The Lifehacker article (where I learned about the chart of charts...) also points to a MS Excel 2007 plug-in that does much the same thing but works automatically and within Excel.