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07 May 2007

Cascading accounts of information industry failure

We remain as always amazed by manner in which the interweb can surface the most fascinating indicators to enrich analysis and observation.

The “New Coke” mistake involving the much beloved Lileks has continued to spark the most interesting commentary, and is no doubt sapping what little remains of the Star-Tribune’s positive branding. To dive into the rest of that particular furball, it is best to start with Haft of the Spear’s list of citations.

Also, we have found through that longer chain of blogospheric isnad a most interesting reaction from an industry insider at Gold Plated Witch on Wheels. We recognize far too many similar management dynamics in the community to those examples she lists – regretfully further confirmation of our contentions regarding the parallels between these information industries. We particularly liked, and empathize with, her assertion that she...

“...loved (and still do) newspapers with the irrationality of a college girl sleeping with her professor. It doesn't matter how much they hurt you or that you know it will end badly, you just love 'em anyway.

The love of the intelligence profession is just as irrational – but just the same, not something we are likely to give up.

We also note that there may be something in the air leading to the autodarwination of information industry institutions, given other recent examples of the misuse of human capital we have regrettably observed.

One of our own is currently out in the cold (and now entertaining offers from appropriate US entities and academics, should any reader of relevant distinction have a need for a senior intelligence officer / analyst with unique transnational issues and related overseas operational experience) - having very recently departed a once innovative program that was run into the ground in less than a year by bad management, politicization, bureaucratic ossification, and terminal short-sightedness. We wish our friend, and our virtual colleague James, the best as they both attempt to create for themselves new professional options. We are hopeful for them both, given the way things have worked out for others going through recent metamorphosis.

Intelligence professionals and their civilian counterparts in other information industries both vote with their feet. The public side just happens to be a lot more visible than what occurs within the community. It will no doubt take a generation for the academics to piece together the implications of recent events, and the pathways of evolution to the next iteration of those industries.

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