Friday, September 23, 2011

The Intelligence Analyst's Deck Of Cards: An Update

Several people have asked me about the status of Intelligence Analyst's Deck Of Cards that we collectively worked on this summer, so I wanted to provide a quick update (If you have no idea what I am talking about, go here).

The proofs have just come back from the printer (as you can see in the picture to the right).  We hope to go to print next week and have the cards back by mid-October.  Shortly after that we should begin to send out free decks to anyone who submitted a quotation (whether it made it into the deck or not).

Of course, the remaining decks will go on sale with the profits going to fund the three intelligence oriented student clubs we have at Mercyhurst.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Is This The End Of Textbooks? (

The recent launch of Mercyhurst's The Analyst's Cookbook, Vol 2 as a Kindle only edition ignited an interesting side discussion on the always informative IAFIE listserve regarding the relative value of paper vs. electronic materials for training and education.

Broadly, the arguments there break down along the lines of cost and convenience for electronic versions vs. durability and prestige (with a smattering of tradition thrown in) for paper.

The discussion is still ongoing for IAFIE members so I thought I would widen the audience a bit to include SAM's diverse readership. The infographic below, recently published in MakeUseOf, is designed to add some facts to the mix.

Textbooks of Tomorrow

By the way, our own decision was driven almost entirely by cost. Volume 1 of the Cookbook has been enormously popular (it is in its third printing and still available here) but it is expensive to produce, store and distribute. The Kindle version of Volume 2 allows us to drastically cut the price. This makes it an easier buy for most people and likely ensures a wider distribution.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Analyst's Cookbook, Volume 2, Now Available!

The Analyst's Cookbook, Volume 2, is out right now(!) and can be downloaded from to your Kindle or, if you don't have a Kindle, to one of the free Kindle readers for PC, iPhone, etc.

We went with a Kindle edition of the Cookbook this time around for all the reasons anyone goes to digital publishing -- it is less expensive for you to buy (only $4.99) and easier for us to manage than paper books.

For those of you familiar with the first Cookbook, thanks for your support ... and for waiting so long!  Your loyalty has made The Analyst's Cookbook the best selling book in MCIIS' inventory (it is now in its third printing!).

For those of you not familiar with the first volume of The Analyst's Cookbook (still available in hardcopy here), it is a series of short articles that outline the basics of a variety of different analytic techniques.  Each chapter was written by a different analyst and addresses one specific method or technique, provides a short description, a how-to, and a sense of the pros and cons of the method.  The second volume follows the same pattern.

What really makes the chapters interesting, though, is the experience each  individual analyst had when they tried to apply the method to a particular problem.  In the past, these method/problem match-ups make for some fascinating reading (like when one analyst applied the business methodology of benchmarking to European terrorist groups).  The current collection is no exception in this regard.

The real exception in this volume is that, in the past, the Cookbook was a venue to show off graduate student writing, this volume shows off graduate student editing as well.  It was put together almost entirely by the editor for the MCIIS Press, Nicole Pillar.

Finally, while we had many good suggestions for improving the format of the Cookbook over the years since Volume 1 was published, in the end, we decided to stick with the less formal, "cookbook", approach of Volume 1.  The goal for us is to capture the experience of using a particular analytic method on a real problem, to give the reader a sense of how these methods work.  The purpose is not to provide a definitive evaluation of one approach vs. another.  It is a starting place for thinking about analytic methods, not the end point.

I hope you enjoy the new Cookbook!

To purchase The Analyst's Cookbook, Volume 2:  Go here!
To download free Kindle Reader software:  Go here!