Hongkiat.com had an interesting post today about a variety of web annotation tools - you know, tools for making the equivalent of sticky notes for web pages.
We have been looking at a number of these recently, trying to figure out which one might be best for intelligence analysts.
Sidewiki caught my eye since it is fully integrated into the increasingly popular Google suite of productivity tools.
For example, I am writing this blog post using Sidewiki. Not only am I appending this note to the main SAM site as a Sidewiki entry for anyone to see, I am also publishing it to SAM with a single push of a button (so if this post looks funny, you know the reason why...).
You can find out more about Google's Sidewiki on the Sidewiki website: http://www.google.com/
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Hongkiat.com had an interesting post today about a variety of web annotation tools - you know, tools for making the equivalent of sticky notes for web pages.
Posted by Kristan J. Wheaton at 1:35 PM
Monday, December 20, 2010
The early mention (in the 1800's) is a false one but a search of books from the 1940's yields this little gem from 1948.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Anything From Wondermark. Wondermark is the strange and amazing online comic by David Malki. Some of his best stuff he has compiled into books or put on t-shirts. You may think that your analyst is too sophisticated for a ninja riding a unicycle t-shirt or a "The Revolution Will Not Be Telegraphed!" t-shirt, but, believe me, you're wrong (See below...)
Friday, December 10, 2010
Image via WikipediaOne of my favorite sites for finding interesting new documents, Docuticker, recently highlighted an October, 2010 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, Intelligence Issues For Congress.
With a new Congress about to be sworn in and the balance of power shifting in the House, this list of issues is worth examining by anyone interested in the direction of the US national security intelligence community.
For those of you unfamiliar with the CRS, it is one of the most reputable sources of information and informed analysis currently available on the planet.
Unfortunately, it is exclusively for the use of members of Congress and, unless a member of Congress releases a report, the CRS's analysis does not see the light of day. Organizations like the Federation Of American Scientists and OpenCRS.org pick up on any reports that are made public and host them (which is how Docuticker got this one).
Below is my edited version of the summary (You can download the full PDF here). I cut out the stuff that I thought would be familiar to SAM's readers and have highlighted those parts (in bold) that I thought would most interesting. Other than that, the words below are direct quotes:
- Making cooperation effective presents substantial leadership and managerial challenges. The needs of intelligence “consumers”—ranging from the White House to Cabinet agencies to military commanders—must all be met, using the same systems and personnel. Intelligence collection systems are expensive and some critics suggest there have been elements of waste and unneeded duplication of effort while some intelligence “targets” have been neglected.
- The DNI has substantial statutory authorities to address these issues, but the organizational relationships remain complex, especially for Defense Department agencies. Members of Congress will be seeking to observe the extent to which effective coordination is accomplished.
- International terrorism, a major threat facing the United States in the 21st century, presents a difficult analytical challenge, vividly demonstrated by the attempted bombing of a commercial aircraft approaching Detroit on December 25, 2009. Counterterrorism requires the close coordination of intelligence and law enforcement agencies, but there remain many institutional and procedural issues that complicate cooperation between the two sets of agencies.
- Techniques for acquiring and analyzing information on small groups of plotters differ significantly from those used to evaluate the military capabilities of other countries. U.S. intelligence efforts are complicated by unfilled requirements for foreign language expertise. Whether all terrorist surveillance efforts have been consistent with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) has been a matter of controversy.
- Intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was inaccurate and Members have criticized the performance of the intelligence community in regard to current conditions in Iraq, Iran, and other areas. Improved analysis, while difficult to mandate, remains a key goal. Better human intelligence, it is widely agreed, is also essential.
- Intelligence support to military operations continues to be a major responsibility of intelligence agencies. The use of precision guided munitions depends on accurate, real-time targeting data; integrating intelligence data into military operations challenges traditional organizational relationships and requires innovative technological approaches. Stability operations now underway in Afghanistan may require very different sets of intelligence skills.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Gettysburg Address from Adam Gault on Vimeo.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
"The most telling result of the research is the clear implication that intelligence analysis is conceptually driven as opposed to data driven. What is critical is not just the data collected, but also what is added to those data in interpreting them via conceptual models in the analyst's store of knowledge."
- Is a technologist
- Is either a specialist or a generalist but not both
- Is an "information entrepreneur"
- Is comfortable with changing roles
- Can communicate (oral and written)
- Is a detective
- Is imaginative
- Is self-starting
- Has a profession (Intelligence analysis)
Thursday, October 21, 2010
The Gartner Hype Cycle: An Interesting Way To Think About The "Next Big Thing" In Tech (Gartner.com)
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
The course is open to anyone with a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and an interest in the topic. The course is designed as an online, standalone, introductory graduate-level course -- there are are no prerequisites.
The instructor for the course is Billy Rios (see picture). Billy is currently a Senior Security Researcher with Google and has taught the course for us in the past. Before Google, he was the Security Program Manager for Internet Explorer and one of authors of the book, Hacking: The Next Generation. Billy has also served as a Marine Corps officer in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
According to the course description: "This course explores the relatively new discipline of cyberthreat analysis at a basic level, introducing students to the methodology of investigation, the threat environment (cyberspace), some of the online tools used by analysts, and their application in real world examples. Students will be introduced to the key concepts, tools, and terminologies used by professionals in the field and apply what they learn in lab exercises that model real-world events."
Our recent informal survey of hiring managers indicated that cyberthreat analysis is still one of the hottest areas of hiring in intel. This course is a great way to get your feet wet if you are looking to expand, improve or add depth to your professional portfolio as an intelligence analyst.
If you or anyone you know is interested, please have them contact Linda Bremmer at lbremmer at mercyhurst dot edu or call 814 824 2170.
Friday, October 8, 2010
"Good tests make the student feel smart or skilled, if not both. They make the student feel like they're applying what they've learned. The puzzle inherent in a test should flow naturally from the existing, well-established content of the course. While students should feel like they can bring their existing skills to the task at hand, they should also feel like a suitable challenge has been placed in front of them."
Many of you probably agree with me that such a test would be one worth taking. You probably also think that such tests are impossible to design. I have to beg to differ. Such "tests" are routinely developed by a very unique group of people -- game designers.
See, I lied before. The quote above is not from an educator, it is from Game Developer Magazine. The article it was taken from is called "Make Better Bosses" by Damion Schubert (For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of a "boss" in games, I would refer you to the Wikipedia entry on bosses). The original version of Schubert's article read like this:
"Good boss fights make the player feel smart or skilled, if not both. They make the player feel like they're applying what they've learned. The puzzle inherent in a boss fight should flow naturally from the existing, well-established mechanics of the game. While players should feel like they can bring their existing skills to the task at hand, they should also feel like a suitable challenge has been placed in front of them."
Friday, September 24, 2010
Out of the 82 professions examined, intel analyst came in at number 7, scoring a whopping 73.1 out of 100 points. Only one job, Aerospace Engineer, scored 100 of 100 and the other 5 happiest jobs were fairly closely grouped (you can get a general idea of the distribution from the image to the right but for the full interactive glory of this infographic, you have to go to the original WSJ site. In fact, the entire "Paths to Professions" series is worth a look).
This study follows on the heels of the CNN report from last year that indicated that Intel analyst was the 9th best job in the country. CNN did not look at happiness per se so it is hard to compare the two lists but it is interesting to note that, on both lists, intelligence analyst ranks so highly.
I find this particularly interesting given that intelligence analyst does not even have a Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupational Classification System code, which means that the US Government is not tracking the profession in any meaningful way. It suggests to me that intel analyst has become a popular and common enough job to earn the attention of both CNN and the Wall Street Journal but that there are few reliable resources for adequately managing the profession.
(Note: Many thanks to K. for the link!)
Thursday, September 23, 2010
- SWOT adds value only indirectly to the strategic planning process
- SWOT is performed far less often than necessary if it is to achieve even these limited goals (up to four times less often than necessary if I am reading Mike's data correctly).
- SWOT should not be used as a standalone technique under any circumstances
You can view the embedded file below or go here for the download (Note: The file was clearly corrupted when Mike uploaded it to Scribd. All the content is there but some of the pictures and graphs were moved around in weird ways. Hopefully Mike will be able to fix it. In the meantime, the data is still there -- it is just not as "pretty" as it was in the original format.)
Posted by Kristan J. Wheaton at 12:49 PM
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Intelligence Studies At US Universities: Who Does It? Who Does It Well? Where Is It Headed? (Dissertation)
National Security Intelligence Professional Education: A Map of U.S. Civilian University Programs and Com...
Friday, August 27, 2010
Best Companies To Work For -- For Entry-level Intelligence Analysts! (Fortune.com And Original Research)
Thanks to one of our superb grad students, Nimalan Paul, we now have an answer!
Nimalan started with Fortune's list and made the initial assumption that, out of the 1000's of companies in the US, if you made the list at all you must be a pretty good place to work (Note: Nimalan used the list from 2006 as it was already available as a spreadsheet. The vast majority of the companies from 2006 are still on the list today and since rank on the Fortune list did not matter in Nimalan's analysis, using the 2006 list seems acceptable).
From there, he thought long and hard about the criteria that would indicate that a company was good for entry level intel analysts. He settled on six factors:
- How many intel analyst (or intel analyst equivalent) slots are currently open?
- How many intel analysts appear to be employed by the company?
- At what level are the analysts employed?
- Is there a separate role for intel analysts within the company?
- Is there an internship program for intel analysts?
- Is there an executive level (C-level) position within the company responsible for intelligence?
The scoring is a bit subjective, of course (such that Nimalan indicated to me that the percentage scores are probably best interpreted as + or - 15% or so. In other words, there is a real difference between a 60% and a 90% but probably not much actual difference between a 90% and a 95%).
Likewise, Nimalan was looking at companies that have intel positions in business exclusively. He did not count contractual analyst positions provided by any of these companies to the US national security intelligence community.
Finally, we can't consider the list definitive. Nimalan's ability to gather info on the companies was limited by time and access and we both acknowledge that there are likely some great places for analysts to work that didn't make it to Fortune's list. If you know of any (and particularly if they are currently hiring...), please leave a note in the comments!
Friday, August 13, 2010
Forecasting Accuracy and Cognitive Bias in the Analysis of Competing Hypotheses
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
How to choose?
Not every college or university has a nuclear engineering program and, to the best of my knowledge, none of them offer a course in "Nuclear Weapons Building 101". Even if you find the right program with the right teachers and labs, etc., you probably also want to make sure you pick a place where you will not excite the interests of the local security services too much.
While it may be easier to imagine a terrorist group recruiting (or hiring) someone who already has the requisite knowledge to build a WMD, the attacks on the World Trade Center prove that Al Qaeda, at least, had (and may still have) the patience to execute a long-term plan involving the education of one of their best and brightest.
Cyndi Lee, in her thesis, Deadly Education: Evaluating Which Universities Are Attractive To International Terrorists, explores this issue in some depth.
Specifically, Cyndi used German universities as the testbed for her case study (The German university system provides most of the data, including indications of quality, that Cyndi needed to demonstrate her concept. The same system could be applied to any country where the data is available, however.)
Her goal was, first, eliminate any college or university that did not offer the possibility of getting the appropriate education and, second, rank order the remaining universities according to their perceived attractiveness to the international terrorist (in terms of program quality and ability to remain anonymous).
While Cyndi is careful to acknowledge the limitations of her study (not the least of which would be the unacceptably high false positive rate should her work be taken too literally), it does suggest that, in a resource constrained environment, there may well be ways to reduce uncertainty about possible terrorist courses of action and, in turn, allocate what resources that do exist more efficiently.
You can see the full text of the thesis below or download it directly from here.
Deadly Education -- Evaluating Which Universities Are Attractive To International Terrorists
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
One warning, though: Much of the information comes from Wikipedia and is currently under revision (to a large extent due to the first version of this publication). Fernandez has highlighted this by indicating that this publication is in "Beta" and has included a prominent warning label on the front cover.
That said, it is still a useful and engaging compilation of biases that could easily serve as a supplement to a variety of analytic methods or critical thinking courses.
Finally, many thanks to all of the alumni and friends who pointed this document out to me!
Cognitive Biases - A Visual Study Guide