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10 April 2007

He who owns the platform, redux

The following item cited by SmartMobs reminds us how very applicable the earlier noted lessons of control achieved through better processing, exploitation, and analysis – rather than mere ownership or creation of the raw data – are when examined across disciplines and INTs. In this case, they examine OSINT and social network analysis applications based on user-generated content.

While in the civilian world, that buzz phrase may drive much investment; the quieter versions of participatory architectures found within the community are also facing similar issues in the strange and uniquely competitive marketplace between agencies, programs, and dueling subject matter experts.

But what may seem a short term “victory” in the turf wars for a specific program may in fact be the roots of its downfall. Even the “best" practised, uber-authoritarian walled garden of “collaborative expertise” becomes essentially irrelevant if it strangles the contributions of its experts through attempts at control based on philosophies of ego or proponency – something we have seen in many of the non-inclusive small wikis and other similar “sharing” platforms being generated both inside government and by its academic partners, attempting to copy the concepts of Intellipedia and other like tools. In the worst case scenarios, over-controlled efforts die as their contributors invest time and effort elsewhere; or are fatally crippled as new contributions originate only from those without experience or access to more productive and vibrant environments.

Even experiments which fail teach valuable lessons. However, the manner in which these lessons are taught, and the next generation learns, will dictate whether the efforts are valid. Certainly though, the energy and drive of the individual analysts on the line will count far more in the long run towards developing and validating new techniques for distributed collaborative production – and capturing the ephemera of those activities as lessons learned and best practices should certainly count far higher in the schoolhouse and literature’s priorities than simply creating yet another “me too” attempt at a technological fix.

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