Time to juxtapose.
Dr. John Nagl at Democracy Journal – Intellectual Firepower New threats require new think tanks
….He proposes, instead, creating a Federally Funded Research and Development Corporation, or FFRDC, dedicated to thinking about the Islamic terror threat in the same way that RAND thought about the Soviet nuclear threat. Stevenson suggests the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as a model. It is undeniably a good and long-overdue idea, with likely payoffs hugely exceeding the few hundred million dollars such an organization would cost the taxpayer every year. But beyond the basics, Stevenson is working from the wrong mould. RAND was so influential not least because it was the brains behind an enormously large and powerful set of muscles called the Strategic Air Command, where peace was a profession and war just a hobby; DARPA provides thinking that feeds the mammoth U.S. defense industry. Stevenson’s proposed think tank would need similar need bone and muscle. But unlike the Strategic Air Command or the Department of Defense, the muscle we need today would motivate soft power, rather than hard steel.
It is not for me, a scribbler in a think tank, to denigrate the idea of creating another one. In fact, an underreported cause of the recent turnaround in Iraq has been General David Petraeus’ creation of his own brain trust consisting of many of the military’s brightest strategic thinkers on the challenges of insurgency [See Rachel Kleinfeld, “Petraeus the Progressive,” on page 107 of this issue]. If Petraeus could do so much on his own, just with thinkers he knew personally, imagine what the nation could do with a call to service by a president who valued thinking hard about problems?
I’m certainly in favor of a foreign policy DARPA – glad the wonks are catching up to my early, amateurish, efforts at blogging – and I also agree that a “new kind of think tank” is in order too. Hopefully these ideas that originated in the blogosphere will gain currency and become a reality before 2016 or 2020. 🙂
Rialtas.Net -Government 2.0 – Stigmergic Collaboration
I have just finished reading Mark Elliot’s PHD dissertation entitled “Stigmergic Collaboration- A Theoretical Framework for Mass Collaboration” and I found it to be inspiring and profound.
This is one of the most scientific and rigorous examinations of mass collaboration and social networking technologies and their interactions that I have come across, and I highly recommend reading it. In fact reading this paper has reinforced my interest in 2.0 technologies and my view that they are just the beginning of a new mode of working and of communicating. In fact I am now totally fascinated by research in the area of stigmergy and emergence, thank you Mark.
One element covered by Elliot (and I hope he will correct me if I am misinterpreting him) is that the whole web 2.0 collaborative technology framework is an human emergent (stigmergic) structure, emerging spontaneously through the simple actions and interactions of many individuals self-organising and evolving more complex structures as the social and technological conditions necessary for these types of structure to emerge become more prevalent (just as termite mounds and ant hills arise out of the simple behaviour of individual insects). This is essential reading for anyone interested in the future of the web and collaborative work (and of course collaborative art, and entertainment, and play…)
Dr. Mark Elliot’s blog is here, just FYI. Seems to be on hiatus.
Collaborative learning and organizational/collective learning are going to be the “next big thing” on the horizon, leaping off of the Web 2.0 tech community, epitomized by figures like Clay Shirky, Jason Calcanis, Scobleizer and Howard Rheingold ( who has a book on the works on this very subject or related to this subject). I’ve previously linked to “Minds on Fire” by John Seely Brown and Richard P. Adler; if you have not read it, you should. They are on target.
The obscure tie in here is that Dr. Nagl had issued a strong, even passionate, call to rebuild the military as “learning organizations” at the the end of his excellent book Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam. Becoming a “learning organization” (sometimes called a “Professional Learning Community” by educational wonks or a “Community of Practice” by techies and thought leader types) is dependent on organizational philosophy, not Web 2.0 technology but the tech is what gives social/collaborative/organizational learning the high octane of asynchronicity and the lowering of barriers to entry, distance and cost.
A wikinomic , “medici effect“world is coming.