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08 May 2007

Pay no attention to the body behind the curtain

From Rough Type comes a well timed, and well executed, critique of the overarching (and over-reaching) philosophy that is increasingly shifting Wikipedia and its successors from a tool of utility to an engine of epistemology.

There are too many great lines to recommend anything but to read it all (and as always we offer great respect to those who quote the Bard well in theme and principal). We are fascinated by both the post and its comments, as this is an explicit debate over similar questions that we have raised regarding the most effective use of wiki’s within intelligence community contexts. Intellipedia will face the same challenges (in addition to other more unique pressures based on the oddities of culture and technology within the environments which host it.) But we are also interested in how the philosophies and drivers being laid out in the arguments between the open source world’s major supporters, detractors, and the juries of technologist and creator opinion. (The public having already apparently voted with their eyeballs and clickstreams.)

That interest stems largely from our contention that Intellipedia will not be the only way to use the wiki as a tool within the intelligence community (hardly a unique idea, as new projects and environments spring up daily), but more controversially, that things like an encyclopedia may not be the best means to utilizing that tool within the community. And the distinctions between, and proof of success, for new attempts will be in understanding the reasons and drivers for positive results from this new social technology and its associated production methods.

Open source, community based production economies are further examined within a second post at Rough Type, which discusses the monetization of YouTube contributions against the backdrop of current academic arguments over the revolutionary nature of participatory systems (first outlined in the Wealth of Networks by Yochai Benkler.)

The parallels between the evolving structures of open source movement and the new architectures being implemented in the intelligence community are again strikingly clear. Within the walls of the IC, there is stronger evidence for the contention that there has not yet been a model for accurate valuation of the participation economy. Indeed, the entire literature of intelligence as a professional body has largely been a non-economic affair, from the earliest days of Studies to the present, where the bulk of serious contributions originate still from practitioners volunteering additional time and thought away from their primary accounts to help advance the state of the craft. (These volunteers, driven by their own muse or by the Imperative itself, also stand in stark contrast to the academic intelligence studies field in a manner which is outlined in the comments.)

The multi-player (government, contractor, inter-agency & task force) dynamics of contributions to these participatory architectures deserves further study. It is our belief that market type drivers can be identified and encouraged, which will allow for more robust and useful implementation of these new tools for intelligence specific applications.

H/t and our thanks to Zenpundit for pointing out both Rough Type posts

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