I have never, in 18 years of OSINT advocacy, seen a more professional and intelligent endeavor to understand and report on what we are trying to do. This is absolutely world-class, and my admiration is unbounded. This creative individual has a lifetime free pass to our conferences. His technical, legal, and people skills are of the highest order.
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Kent’s photo links to the ten video interviews he did at OSS ’06, the last conference before it was stolen and consequently destroyed by an individual that broke his promise (one of several) and is fortuitously no longer responsible for anything of significance. All of the interviews are recommended, but then Congressman Simmons, now running for Senator in place of Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticutt, is especially noteworthy. No one in government has, in the twenty one years we have been fighting this fight, gotten a better grip not just on the idea of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) as a separate discipline, but on OSINT as a means of revitalizing American education, improving decision-support to every Congressional jurisdiction (most get NOTHING from the secret intelligence world), and helping the President and the Cabinet Secretaries manage Whole of Govenrment Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Operational Campaigns.
Among those interviewed that we hold in very high esteem are Michael Andregg, Carolyn Stewart, Mats Bjore, Ralph Peters, Robert Young Pelton, Stephen E. Arnold, and Peter Morville. There is also an interview with Robert Steele, who is not tagged within this website.
Below is a direct link to Kent Bye and a collage of clips from each of the people he interviewed. We consider this the single best most brilliant piece of citizen journalism on the concept of OSINT.
Below are the currently available links for audio only for all those interviewed:
Below links directly to the Simmons interview, use the photograph link above to select any of the others. NOTE: the video portion appears to have been disabled for all of them, you get audio only right now, we are working on this with Kent, it is vastly better to see these individuals in full multi-media form.
One of three best books on creating value in the InfoAge,
June 25, 2005
Thomas A. Stewart
EDIT of 20 Dec 07 to add links.
Too many people will miss the core message of this book, which is about paying attention to truth and seeking out truth in the context of networks of trust, rather than about managing the process of internal knowledge.
When the author says “It’s time to gather the grain and torch the chaff,” his book over-all tells me he is talking about brain-power and a culture of thinking (the grain) and counterproductive information technology and irrelevant financial audits (the chaff).
This is one of those rare books that is not easily summarized and really needs to be read in its entirely. A few items that jumped out at me:
1) Training is a priority and has both return on investment and retention of employee benefits that have been under-estimated.
2) All major organizations (he focused on business, I would certainly add government bureaucracies) have “legal underpinnings, ..systems of governance, ..management disciplines, ..accounting (that) are based on a model of the corporation that has become irrelevant.”
3) Although one reviewer objected to his comments on taxation, the author has a deeper point–the government is failing to steer the knowledge economy because it is still taxing as if we had an industrial economy–this has very severe negative effects.
4) As I read the author’s discussion of four trends he credits to John Hagel of I2, it was clear that “intelligence” needs to be applied not only to single organizations, but to entire industries. In my view, this author is quite brilliant and needs to be carefully cultivated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, all of the industry associations, and by governments. There are some extremely powerful “macro” opportunities here that his ideas could make very profitable for a group acting in the aggregate.
5) This is one book that should have had footnotes instead of end-notes, for while the author is careful to credit all ideas borrowed from others, it is difficult in the text to follow his thinking in isolation. One idea that is very pertinent to national intelligence and counterintelligence as well as corporate knowledge management is that of the reversal of the value chain–“first sell, then make,” i.e. stop pushing pre-conceived products out the door and get into the business of just enough, just in time knowledge or product creation that is precisely tailored to the real time needs of the client.
6) The author excells at blasting those corporations (and implicitly, major government bureaucracies such as the spy agencies that spend over $30 billion a year of taxpayer funds) that assume that if they only apply more dollars to the problem, they can solve any challenge. “Too often ‘dumb power’ produces a higher-level stalemate.” One could add: and at greater cost!
7) The bottom line of this truly inspired and original book comes in the concluding chapters when the author very ably discusses how it is not knowledge per se that creates the value, but rather the leadership, the culture, and infrastructure (one infers a networked infrastructure, not a hard-wired bunker). These are the essential ingredients for fostering both knowledge creation and knowledge sharing, something neither the CIA nor the FBI understood at the management level in the years prior to 9-11.
The most important point in this book is that the value is no longer found in collecting just in case knowledge, but rather in connecting dots to dots, dots to people, and (the highest value) people to people. It’s about connecting, not collecting. Based on this book I drew my own value triangle, VALUE appearing in the middle of the triangle, with Context being the lower left corer, Content being the lower right corner, and CONNECTION being the apex of the triangle–further refined as connecting customers, connecting contributing talents, and connecting sub-contracted sources, softwares, and services. No one is doing this today in the manner that meets the emerging needs of the marketplace.
Most interesting to me is the author’s early emphasis on the Chief Financial Officer being the point of sale, not the CEO, the CTO, or the production divisions. Intellectual capital is a value-creation and profit-building exercise, and it needs to be presented as a financial campaign plan, not a technology plan, not a human resources plan, and not a sales and marketing plan.
Although the author focuses on intellectual property, and provides compelling anecdotes and links that suggest that any company in the knowledge business can increase its bottom line earnings by 20-40% if it does a better job of managing its intellectual property, I see two other emerging marketplaces in this book that the author may not have intended but certainly contributes insights to: managing shared access to external sources, to reduce the cost and increase the knowledge that companies can use to increase their competence in a global environment; and managing customer understanding and relationships in the aggregate–it is possible to take cross-selling to new heights if companies in different industries that are not competing with one another, will share customer information in new ways, thus leading to the invention of new3 offerings and new value.
A major point in this book that I believe everyone misses is that the management of intellectual property, or knowledge management, or external open source information acquisition and exploitation, is totally and utterly without value in the absence of a strategy. Collection or connecting is of the greatest value when it is done with strategic purpose, operational efficiency, and tactical effect.
There is a lot more in this book that will impact on my strategic business planning, and that I choose to not summarize here, but will instead end with three points the author makes that I consider to be important:
1) In the information age, only investments in knowledge building are really investments–traditional investments in capital goods are costs, not to be confused with investments intended to generate new value.
2) Knowledge value grows on a logarithmic scale, while goods value grows arithmetically.
3) In today’s environment, careers are defined by personal skills and networking, not traditional jobs and corporate positions. The corollary of this is that individuals must self-manage their continuing education and skill acquisition, and any job that fails to provide for continuing upgrading of skills is not worth keeping.