Friday, September 19, 2008

Combating Terror With Communication, A Foreign Assessment Of The CIA, FBI And US Foreign Policy In Africa (

Some interesting short snippets from some recent broadcasts (and one longer presentation):

Combating Terror with Communication
R. Gustav Niebuhr explains that, while we may live in frightening times, the only way to maintain hope is by maintaining dialogue with people we may believe to be the enemy. Date: Wed, 06 Aug 2008 (4 min. 35 sec)
Location: Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, NY

A Foreign Assessment of the CIA and FBI

Nigel Inkster and Peter Clarke assess the strengths and weaknesses of the CIA and the FBI, praising the CIA and saying, "the CIA have been treated disgracefully in this country," receiving the blame for what is the fault of policy. They also exhort that a barrier should never be built between intelligence and law enforcement. Date: Sat, 05 JUL 2008 (4 min 17 sec)
Location: The Aspen Institute, Aspen, CO

Vicki Huddleston - United States Foreign Policy to Africa
Vicki Huddleston discusses The United States and Africa: A Chance for Change as a part of American Foreign Policy: Leadership and Dialogue during the 2008 Chautauqua Institution morning lecture series. Date: Wed, 23 Jul 2008 (1 hour 8 mini)
Location: Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, NY

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Intelligence Professionals And Educators Take Note: You Have 5 Years Until "The Blur" Hits Everything

Take a close look at the new graphic from KZero below. I know it is hard to read (click on the image to get the full version) but the red dots represent existing virtual worlds and the blue dots represent planned virtual worlds. The size of the dot represents the number (in millions!) of inhabitants of these virtual worlds.

Notice anything special?

The fading line between the real and the virtual is already apparent to students going through colleges, universities and the entry level hiring pool right now. "The blur", however, hits us all in about 5-10 years when new students and new hires who were raised playing in virtual worlds begin to enter the workforce.

What is this "blur"? I borrowed it from Flint Dille. Flint is in the entertainment business (movies and games). He gave a speech some time ago to a bunch of young game designers where he outlined the concepts behind "the blur". You can find the whole presentation at his website, The Bureau Of Film And Games, but the point is that, within the entertainment industry, the traditional lines between the types of content (film, books, games, etc) have blurred to a point where they are no longer recognizable -- are not, perhaps, even particularly important.

High speed wireless telecommunications, an ever expanding sensor network to provide information and feedback and the expected advances in computing power will likely combine with this wave of virtual worlds natives to blur not just entertainment but everything. The educational and intelligence landscapes will not be immune; they will change completely in this augmented version of what we call reality.

One of the items at the recent OSINT Conference that drew a good bit of attention from the blogosphere was a briefing by Dr. Dwight Toavs from the NDU which included a scenario where terrorists used the popular online game World Of Warcraft to coordinate an attack. A large group of people who responded to this scenario thought it was silly; another large group of people over-reacted in the opposite direction. The point of a thought piece such as this, however, seems to me to be that this new kind of world is coming -- and sooner than we may be prepared for.

In a world that pilloried the intelligence community for failing to imagine the 9/11 plot, it seems prudent to spend some time and resources getting ahead of the blur.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Excellent NYT Graphic On The Recent Financial Meltdown (NYT Via Boing Boing)

The New York Times is carrying a very well-done graphic (spotted first by Boing Boing) explaining the recent meltdown on Wall Street within the financial sector. The graphic, which, unfortunately, is not embeddable, allows the reader to instantly see why AIG gets a bailout and Lehman Brothers has to file for bankruptcy, for example. It does a remarkable job of explaining quite a bit without resorting to very many words. Worth the look.

(Click on the picture below to go to the full sized, interactive version of the graph)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

"And The Winner Is..." (DNI Open Source Innovation Challenge)

As many regular readers of this blog already know, the Mercyhurst College team of Mike Butler, Shannon Ferrucci, Ray Wasko, Drew Brasfield, Dan Somavilla and Chris Hippner (sponsored by MCIIS Director Bob Heibel) won the DNI's Open Source Innovation Challenge last week at the OSINT Conference in DC. The Mercyhurst answer is embedded below:

Read this document on Scribd: MCIIS DNI OSINT Challenge -- Winning Entry

A few quick notes on the doc. First, it is uploaded to Scribd, so you can download it there. Second, the document here is a PDF. The submission was in MS Word which meant that the embedded video worked directly in the doc. With the PDF version, you have to click on the link in the caption to see the video in the document on YouTube (or you can just watch the embedded version below:

In addition to the 3 page (max) document, the team had to put together a six slide presentation in case they won. The team's presentation is actually a slide show, complete with narration, animation, music and embedded videos and other do-dahs and knick-knacks. Very cool but bandwidth hungry. Don't try watching the video of the entire presentation below unless you are on a fast connection.

Final Notes From The Open Source Conference:

Congratulations once again to the team for their excellent performance!