Open Source and the Global Brain
1. Information reflecting facts, perceptions, and knowledge (which I will call data) exists in many forms and places throughout the world. Much of it is NOT protected by government classification or even by other deliberate efforts to prevent its availability to others who actively seek it out. I will call this open source data—OSD.
2. Collectively, and if properly integrated and reduced to its essentials, these data answer a great number of what intelligence services (from any government, business, or activity (such as NGOs, for example)) might characterize as desired knowledge. I will call this open source intelligence—OSINT.
3. Collecting these data does not require human secret agents, intercepting protected signals, or the use of other classified intelligence programs. It’s simply there for the taking—if one organizes to take it.
4. Reducing the data to desired knowledge does not demand classified intelligence programs. It, perhaps not so simply, requires effective techniques for use of the data. Though there are many techniques involved, one of the most critical is to harness, to the extent practicable, the collective wisdom of mostly non-governmental sources and methods—and that includes the hard work and innovativeness of people involved in the process all around the world—non-governmental practitioners.
5. In a sense, one could look at the global collective of data (OSD), desired knowledge coming from open sources (OSINT), and collective of practitioners as a sort of “global brain.” No one has all the data. No one has all the desired knowledge. No one has all the technique. But collectively—to the extent the collective can be harnessed on a wide scale—the Global Brain has a large number of the answers that governments, businesses, and various activities seek—all of it from open sources.
Phi Beta Iota: The above is Brother Boyd’s “translation” of Robert Steele’s many published materials into something understandable to a Member of Congress. Boyd Sutton is the author of the Global Coverage study that established the need for an open source agency capability at $1.5 billion a year (10 million for each of 150 targets or topics not adequately covered by the classified world. Still today no one does this responsibily or adequately.