Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

U.S. Intelligence Community Adopts Social Media and Networking

By Dennis D. McDonald

So you think you have issues with adoption of social media and social networking technologies in your own stovepiped organization?

You should listen to this podcast: John Udell interviews the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Lewis Shepherd about the rapid post 9/11 adoption — apparently by younger analysts in the intelligence community — of wiki and blogging technologies.

It’s about 35 minutes long. Stick with it. In addition to adoption related issues, towards the end Udell and Shepherd discuss tagging, ontologies, the balancing of “official” vocabularies with folksonomies, and automatic extraction of structured entity descriptions. (I have a soft spot in my heart for such issues that goes back to grad school.)

Keep in mind that the 16 intelligence agencies that are participating in the multilevel intelligence systems Shepherd describes are populated by people we sometimes refer to to as “knowledge workers” — a breed of individuals who, by nature, have to create and share information in order to be effective. In some ways this is not unlike academicians and researchers involved in peer based communications. (In fact, that similarity, which I have commented on in this blog, is even discussed by Udell and Shephered.)

Here are a couple of other comments I found interesting:

  • RSS feed adoption has been very rapid, partly since intelligence analysts are already used to topical feeds generated through much more complex hard coded systems.
  • The intelligence community constantly pays attention to what is going on in the private sector and adapts and borrows very heavily.
  • Blogging seems to have been adopted more rapidly than wiki technology (though this differs by levels of security).
  • Cultural differences in terms of willingness to share information across organizational boundaries have directly impacted speed of adoption. Those agencies with less cultural acceptance to sharing pre-9/11 have been slower to adopt these technologies post 9/11.

There is also some discussion of SOA (“looking up the stack above infrastructure”), architectural consolidation, and application integration, but here are not dealt with is as much detail as social networking and social media related topics.

Again, this one is worth checking out.




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