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04 December 2006

Backchannels, information sharing environments, and Wikified production

Haft of the Spear has been all over the current very public resurfacing of the debates involving the use of emerging collaboration technologies for intelligence analysis and production. We highly recommend the reader’s attention to his comments, particularly as they relate to the recruitment and retention impact caused by the sacrifice of human lifetimes.

The gentleman also makes a fascinating suggestion – to require wikified production as the primary means of developing new products. Now, we are not sure we can endorse such a radical move, but experimentation should certainly be interesting. Of course, if that production can occur across environments (as appropriate) in an AKO type portal, we would be even happier with such experimentation. That experimentation should also spend time focusing on how a wiki production process impacts dissemination and product revisits down the line.

The future of these tools will go to those who are the most productive, and able to carve out spaces away from the bureaucratic impulses to strangle them at birth. If the networks become self-sustaining, with or without official support, then they will continue to thrive. The smallest application spaces, with the fewest bells and whistles, may be the most likely to endure if they are simply opened up to as many of the right people (with strong authentication) and allowed to flourish. We have seen many examples of such emergent networks developing in the backchannels.

In social network theoretic terms, the community is only a few people deep in any given area. But the potential for the sidewise applications of expertise is always amazing, and given the right environment and the right collaborators, will no doubt prove as radically different as the first coordinated product.