Friday, November 11, 2011

An Internet Murder?

I ran across this remarkable video today and it occurred to me that I might be able to use it to offer a brief but challenging thought experiment:

Given this video, what question would you ask first?
Leave your answer in the comments!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How To Improve Your Open Source Search Skills -- One Day At A Time!

If you scratch the surface of the web you will find a ton of articles, websites and videos about how to search for information more efficiently.

Not that this makes any difference.

Students, according to the Project For Information Literacy, "while curious in the beginning stages of research, employed a consistent and predictable research strategy for finding information, whether they were conducting course-related or everyday life research." The report goes on to say, "Almost all students used course readings and Google first for course-related research and Google and Wikipedia for everyday life research."

There are a number of reasons to be worried about this. Many people tend to focus on the over-reliance on Google as the search engine of first resort. While some of that logic is true (for an interesting and illuminating experiment that makes the point, I recommend this site...), I find the inability to use even Google very well to be one of my largest concerns. I mean, if you are going to rely only on Google, you ought to be incredibly good at finding stuff with it.

The best way, in my mind, to get good at finding stuff with Google is to practice doing it and Google apparently feels the same way. The Wizards of Mountain View are now offering a game that is designed to use "your creativity and clever search skills". The premise is simple. They ask a question and then you use Google to find the answer. The game is called "Google a Day". You can try today's challenge below:

I can easily imagine this as an icebreaker in a computer equipped classroom or as a homework or extra credit assignment. Leave your own ideas in the comments!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How Many Entry-level Analysts Does The US IC Need This Year? (Survey)

Good question, right?

If you have direct knowledge of information that might help answer the question in the title or you have indirect knowledge that is relevant to the answer to the question in the title, please take 2 minutes to complete this survey.
What do I mean by direct and indirect knowledge?
Direct knowledge means that you know personally or have good information concerning the hiring plans of your agency or organization (or at least your section or division).  You might work in HR or be a manager with hiring responsibilities.

Indirect knowledge is information that is relevant to the question that is not due to your direct responsibilities.  You might have spoken with an HR manager or have been involved in meetings where this issue was discussed.

We are NOT looking for opinion based on purely circumstantial information.  If you are not involved in the hiring process either directly or indirectly, please DO NOT take this survey.
Why are we interested?

Every year, other disciplines announce hiring projections for the year:  "This year's hot jobs are for engineers and chimney sweeps."  That sort of thing.  Entry level intelligence analysts who are searching for a job, on the other hand, receive no such guidance. 

We hope to change that.  Working with one of our hot-shot grad students, Whitney Bergendahl, and my colleague and marketing expert, Shelly Freyn, we put together this survey to get a better feel for the the job market for entry level analysts for the year ahead. 

Once we get enough survey data, Whitney will compile it and combine it with the macro-level, mostly qualitative data that we already have and put together a "jobs report" for the year ahead.  I will publish it here once we are done.

We understand that there are some legitimate security concerns here so we have tried to frame the questions such that they are focused on broad developments and general trends.  We are not interested in the kind of deep details that might compromise security.

Finally, we intend to follow this study up with similar surveys of the law enforcement and business job markets for entry-level intelligence analysts as well.

Thanks for your participation!