It was a dark time in a long, drawn-out war. Afghanistan was festering with resentment. The Pentagon brass were desperate. It was the kind of last-ditch moment when authorities start throwing an era’s weirdest ideas at its most hopeless bureaucratic mistakes.
For a long time, the Taj Guest House was about the only place you could get a beer in Jalalabad. The provincial capital, about 30 miles from the infamous mountains of Tora Bora, has been the main staging ground for U.S.-led forces in the eastern part of Afghanistan since the early days of the war. When I showed up in the city in November 2011 to report on the propaganda efforts of a franchising Taliban, I found myself at the Taj. There wasn’t much to the pub—just a bamboo-covered bar, a fireplace, a glass-fronted cooler with some Heineken stacked inside, and a few bottles of vodka and other spirits lined up under the red glow of a lamp.
Plus there was an odd little sign: “We share information, communication, (and beer).”
Phi Beta Iota: We have noticed with irritation the number of beltway bandits and think tanks claiming to have OpenBTS well in hand, and vying for the declining government dollar. There is only one company that has a legitimate claim to offering OpenBTS, and that company’s name is Range Networks, featured at DEMO 2010 and a spin-off from Kestrel Signal Processing.
The OpenBTS project was by ‘Camp Papa Legba’, named after the Haitian Loa.
“In Haitian Vodou, Papa Legba is the intermediary between the loa and humanity. He stands at a spiritual crossroads and gives (or denies) permission to speak with the spirits of Guinee, and is believed to speak all human languages. He is always the first and last spirit invoked in any ceremony, because his permission is needed for any communication between mortals and the loa – he opens and closes the doorway. In Haiti, he is the great elocution, the voice of God, as it were. Legba facilitates communication, speech and understanding.”
Dave Warner is a Medical Neuroscientist and the Director of Medical Intelligence at MindTel. His interests include interventional informatics, medical communications, distributed medical intelligence, biosensors, quantitative human performance, expressional interface systems and physio-informatics. He has been engaged in humanitarian assistance and information and communication technologies (ICT) applications for a number of years, with recent activity in Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa, and Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Dr. Warner graduated from San Diego State University in 1988, with a degree in Physical Science. He then entered the combined MD/PhD program at Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC). His passion as an undergraduate was human expression. Specifically, he sought to learn how a thought becomes an intention for expression and then how the physiology of the body facilitates that expression through some medium. The medium he chose was information systems: informatics. At LLUMC Dr. Warner’s doctoral research was in the Department of Neurophysiology. He also founded MindTel in May 1997 to commercialize intelligent communication products for healthcare, education, and recreation. An initial focus is the development of hardware and software products that can be deployed cost-effectively so that disabled computer users can more effectively express themselves through the World Wide Web. The hardware products include sensors, transducers, and computer interface modules. The associated NeatTools software comprises a highly versatile visual programming environment for interfacing hardware and software modules. MindTel is also actively engaged in consulting activities in telemedicine and Web-based communication systems.
Users — What skills are needed to use the MESS-KIT
The MESS-KIT system is composed of three basic components — the software package, the virtual environment and the hardware:
a. APPLICATION SOFTWARE PACKAGE: One or more Virtual Machine Instances that package together an operating system with a web server environment and all free-and-open-source/commercial-off-the-shelf software modules. Example: A VMware instance of an Ubuntu Linux installation with a full LAMP web server hosting environment and associated web software.
b. VIRTUAL MACHINE CLIENT SOFTWARE: One Virtual Machine Software Client to package, distribute, and host one or more Application Software Packages and abstract the application software from the host operating system. Examples: VMWare Fusion and Sun VirtualBox.
c. HARDWARE: Hardware on which the Virtual Machine Client Software and Application Software Package will run. The Hardware will include a host operating system. Examples: MacMini running OSX, ASUS eeePC Netbook running eeeBuntu Linux.
The search term brings up appropriate results, but the fact of the search gives us an opportunity to provide comment.
1) Nothing now being used by governments, and certainly not iBase or Palantir, both aging technologies that do not scale and have too many fat-finger handicaps, fulfills the originial requirements documents crafted in the late 1980’s.
2) The ONLY programs that have gotten anywhere close are COPERNICUS plus plus, and SILOBREAKER. However, both of these have been slow to recognize the urgency of integrating–fully integrating–capabilities that address each of the eighteen functionalities. Below is the list of softwares now in use by US Special Operations Command J-23 Open Source Intelligence Branch along with the STRONG ANGEL TOOZL and a couple of other things.
The global standard for multinational information-sharing and sense-making is in the process of being designed, funded, and distributed. If you think you have something relevant to that, generally only open source software will be considered, get in touch with any of the individuals above.
Phi Beta Iota: Including Rand Beer and Jim Clapper is what causes this search to fail. Dr. Dr. Dave Warner, one of the co-founders of Earth Intelligence Network (EIN), is the originator of this idea. Dr. Dr. Warner is too much the diplomat to point out the obvious: the concept requires open minds, a shelving of rankism, multinational engagement, and a raft of other minor but vital accommodations that are simply not in the DNA of those now serving. They are all good people who mean well, but innovation like this is on the margins and receives lip service (much as the Open Government initiative has received lip service).
Dr.Dave Warner, a medical neuroscientist, has an MD/PhD from Loma Linda University, is the director of the Institute for Interventional Informatics and has gained international recognition for pioneering new methods of physiologically based human-computer interaction. The rest of us know him as one of the leaders of STRONG ANGEL, as the pioneer of the one-ounce laptop TOOZL, and more recently, as the lead definer of of Whole of Government and Multinational Multifunctional Information Sharing & Synergy Capabilites.