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The Trickster of Social Media and National Security

Which would be a cool title if there ever was one.

Except it is not a title but a metaphor being used by Jeff Carr of Intelfusion in a thought provoking post at O’Reilly Radar:

Loki’s Net – The National Security Risks of Gov 2.0 and the Social Web

…Here’s an updated version of an old Trickster tale that I think is particularly relevant to the topic of this post–the national security risks associated with a more open Government in general and social software in particular.

 Loki, the Norse God of mischief and mayhem, had taken to the mountains for refuge after angering the other Gods with his latest antics. The first thing he did was build a house with four doors; one on every side so that he could see in all directions. With his Intrusion Detection System in place, Loki spent the rest of his time playing in the water as a salmon, leaping waterfalls and negotiating mountain streams.

One morning, Loki sat by a fire and considered how the gods might capture him. Since he spent much of his time as a fish, Loki grabbed some linen string and fashioned a fishing net of a size and weight sufficient to snare him. Unfortunately, just as he finished, the other Gods rushed in. Loki threw the net into the fire, transformed into a salmon, and swam away. Acting quickly, the Gods extracted the ashes of the net from the fire and, from the remnants, rebuilt Loki’s net, eventually ensnaring him in it.

Like Loki, we construct through our Twitter posts, Facebook Wall entries and LinkedIn profiles our own unique “net” that sets us up for a social engineering exploit, a financial crime, or an act of espionage.

The Trickster archetype aptly frames this discussion about the risks and benefits of bringing Government into a Web 2.0 world because the classic Trickster is neither good nor bad, but encompasses elements of both. Too often, the debate surrounding Gov 2.0 becomes polarizing. Critics are frequently grouped together as Gov 1.0 thinkers struggling against a 2.0 world, while advocates sometimes embrace Gov 2.0 as a holy quest, refusing to acknowledge any significant risks whatsoever.

I cannot emphasize enough that the surest way to slow our progress toward a more technologically open Government is to try to craft this debate in dualistic terms. Indigenous Trickster tales teach us that a more valuable approach is to substitute utility for morality. Loki and  Coyote (a famous Trickster in Native American lore) both understand how to trap a fish because they have swum as fish. Hyde writes in his book Trickster Makes This World that “nothing counters cunning like more cunning. Coyote’s wits are sharp precisely because he has met other wits.”

Read the rest here.

3 Responses to “The Trickster of Social Media and National Security”

  1. Jeffrey Says:

    Thanks for the promo, Mark. And I’m really digging the artwork you selected!

  2. Lexington Green Says:

    That looks like Loki from the old Marvel Thor comic books.   You are taking me back, man.

  3. zen Says:

    Thx guys – great article Jeff! My understanding is that there is a Thor film in the works and a distant future Avengers film brining together many Marvel characters on the same screen.

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