Saturday, February 16, 2008

Visualizing Intelligence Analysis (

Many people are visual learners and with so much multimedia around, it is pretty much inevitable that the forms that intelligence analysis will take in the future will go far beyond the typical written summary and oral brief.

While tailoring the content of intelligence to meet a decisionmaker's preconceptions or desires has always been just plain wrong, tailoring the form to meet the needs of a particular decisionmaker just makes sense. If intelligence is not "accessible" to a decisionmaker, it is likely to be ignored and if it is ignored, it might as well not have been created. After all, the first version of the President's Daily Brief was designed to fit in President Kennedy's shirt pocket (It was called the PICL for "President's Intelligence Checklist" (the people who wrote it worked in the "PICL Factory"). I have also heard that President Reagan asked the intel community to create videos for him to watch, particularly on key leaders but I don't know if that is true).

All of this is by way of introduction to a new online service called The service allows the user to easily create comic-like products using images from or their own images. These products can then be easily embedded into web-pages or blogs.

I gave it a try and you can see the results below. I took Ken Foster's recent article for ISN on Peru and tried to turn it into a one page "comic". It was pretty easy to use the Comiqs search function to find relevant images from Flickr and then very easy to add the text. While this was just a test and I have obviously missed most of Ken's nuance, I am pretty satisfied with the ability of this tool to "translate" one medium into another.

My frustrations with Comiqs stem mostly from the lack of functionality in the current version. There are limited tools for editing pictures and no tool for creating a good quality print version of the comic. Since the product is in beta, it will likely see dramatic improvements in the near term. I certainly hope so. All in all, I found it easy and, well, fun.

I don't say it would work for any type of intelligence product (not sure the PDB guys want to jump on this just yet...) but I could imagine it as a useful tool for certain kinds of intel products for certain kinds of audiences. For example, I could imagine it as a very useful tool for creating training materials for young soldiers (Anyone out there remember PS Magazine?).

Mercyhurst Intel Students On EU Organized Crime And Bio-Preparedness (Blatant Self-Promotion)

Two groups of Mercyhurst College Intel Studies students briefed the results of their projects concerning organized crime in the EU and the preparedness of the EU and EU member nations to weather either a pandemic or a bio-terrorist attack yesterday to William Newton-Dunn, a Member of the European Parliament out of the UK. They all did a great job and got a nice write-up in the Erie Times News as a result.

Africa And Smart Development, Afghanistan's Situation, Religious Dissent In Islamic Nations And More... (

Africa and Smart Development Policy
Africa and Smart Development Policy with Stephen Hadley, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. Carnegie President Jessica T. Mathews moderates the event.
Program and discussion:

Afghanistan: Challenges and a Way Forward
Afghanistan: Challenges and a Way Forward with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah
Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, a long-serving Foreign Minister of Afghanistan who was active in the country's resistance movement before joining government service, will speak on these many challenges, including poverty and civil violence, job creation, establishing rule of law, and expanding poppy cultivation and a growing opium trade generating $3 billion in illicit economic activity. How will Afghanistan meet these challenges and what are the implications of Afghanistan's stability for the international community? Ronald Neumann moderates the event
Program and discussion:

Religious Dissent in Islamic Nations
Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Paul Marshall discusses harsh punishments faced by critics of Islam in many predominantly Muslim countries.
Program and discussion:

The Pakistani Election Boycott
Founder of the Pakistani Movement for Justice party Imran Khan explains the motivation behind the forthcoming election boycott he is endorsing in Pakistan.
Program and discussion:

Stephen Kinzer: The Folly of Attacking Iran
Stephen Kinzer discusses The Folly of Attacking Iran.
Program and discussion:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Civil Unrest In Peru (ISN)

Ken Foster, an intel studies student at Mercyhurst College, had an article published yesterday by the International Relations and Security Network in their Intel Brief section (full text here). The article, on the continuing troubles in Peru concerning coca farmers and Peru's attempts to eradicate the valuable (if illegal) cash crop, makes for interesting background reading. ISN is, by the way, one of the consistently best sources of information and background briefs out there. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

China In The Year 2020: Three Political Scenarios (Black Swan Forum)

Jeff Carr over at IntelFusion is sponsoring a web conference through his Black Swan Forum on the future of China featuring Cheng Li, Senior Fellow at the John L. Thornton China Center of the Brookings Institution on March 3 from 1300-1400 PST. You will have to drop Jeff a note at the Black Swan Forum (email address in the flyer below) to get a login but he is willing to open the conference up to anyone who meets the criteria he outlines.

(A note about the embed below: I am testing a new service name to embed pdfs into blogs. Obviously, it would be a better example if this pdf had multiple pages but the process of using to upload a pdf and make it immediately available to readers is very easy and, hopefully, compelling. If you have any comments on the user experience, don't hesitate to leave them)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Terrorism Threat Map (Aon)

The Aon Corporation, a risk management, reinsurance and consulting company with 45,000 employees worldwide, published this gem back in July, 2007. If you have not had a chance to see it, you owe it to yourself to download it here (It is a 3MB file. The screen shot below does not do it justice). If you would like a print copy you can apparently order one for free here.