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Archive for January, 2009

Recommended Reading

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Going for an odd juxtaposition today.

Top Billing! On Google:  LA TimesGoogle ready to pursue its agenda in Washington and The GuardianGoogle plans to make PCs history

Let’s be very clear. Google will be to the Obama administration what Halliburton and Blackwater combined were to the Bush II administration…and maybe then some. That doesn’t make Google “evil”, some of what the search engine giant desires from the USG is good policy but it means that those watching the intersection of politics, public policy and technology need to give Google below the radar scrutiny in order to be ahead of the curve.


Check out the link to WindowonEurasia ( hat tip Galrahn ). This fits the growing “neo-Eurasianism” ideology of the Siloviki clique around Putin.

Haft of the Spear –  Book Update 

I will post on this topic when it goes “live” on Amazon.


An interesting analysis by John Robb on the nature of the state.

Conversations with History Niall Ferguson

Committee of Public SafetyNeglected Strategists: Kautilya, the Arthashastra, the Spectrum of Power, and 5GW

An introduction to the Machiavelli of India ( China’s Machiavelli was Han Fei-tzu )

SEEDSeed Salon: Albert-Laszlo Barabasi + James Fowler and  Revolutionary Minds

Network theory’s great figure and cutting edge thinkers.

On Networks and Time: 

“Time-Dependent Complex Networks: Dynamic Centrality, Dynamic Motifs, and Cycles of Social Interaction*”   by Dr. Dan Braha and Dr. Yaneer Bar-Yam

This stretched my brain and I’m not qualified to vet the work BUT for military/intel types, this research implies IMHO that “targeted assassinations” or less than total war “EBO” campaigns may only have transient effects or at least less effect than expected because the dynamic nature of nodal roles gives the network more resiliency than a casual analysis might lead one to believe. Shane and Dr. Von are cordially invited to weigh in and correct me here.

Logic and EmotionThinking Visually

Thinking Visually

View more presentations or upload your own. (tags: storytelling presentation)

That’s it!

The Hidden Networks of Twitter

Saturday, January 24th, 2009


I am sometimes asked ” What is the point of twitter?” by people who sign up and are bewildered by the flurry of seemingly disconnected “tweets”.  Even Dave Davison, a longtime investor in and enthusiast of media platforms has asked what is the “Return on Attention” with twitter ?

All social networking is not created equal. My usual answer based upon my own usage has been that twitter will make sense for you if you have an established network of people with whom you have a reason to be in frequent contact and a common set of interests. I have that on twitter with a sizable national security/mil/foreign policy/4GW/IC informal “twittersphere”. If you don’t have that kind of network at least in latent form when you sign up on twitter, its going to be very hard to build one from scratch by following strangers based on random tweets.

As it turns out, research has begun to validate my empirical observation. In social networking platforms there is your formal network but inside it is the real, “hidden” network with which you actually interact:

From Complexity Digest – “Social networks that matter: Twitter under the microscope” (PDF) by Bernardo A. Huberman, Daniel M. Romero and Fang Wu

“….This implies the existence of two different networks: a very dense one made up of followers and followees, and a sparser and simpler network of actual friends. The latter proves to be a more inuential network in driving Twitter usage since users with many actual friends tend to post more updates than users with few actual friends. On the other hand, users with many followers or followees post updates more infrequently than those with few followers or followees.”

What does this mean ? 

First, it means that if the IC or military or law enforcement are worried about terrorists or criminals using twitter or Facebook for nefarious purposes, the bad guys will not be able to conceal their cells amidst a large list of nominal “friends” because their manic activity stands out like neon lights against the passivity of the non-members of the network.

Secondly, I’m not certain if this research scales with “celebrity” figures on a platform with huge numbers of followers like Robert Scoble ( Scobleizer  50, 362) or the designer Guy Kawasaki ( guykawasaki  52, 506). These people are deep influencers well outside any realistic circle of actual friends and are followed in part because of their pre-existing status earned in other domains or media.

That said, it’s an interesting concept to think of social media networks having a surface and a hidden or inner network where the real action takes place and what causes transactional movement to occur between the two.


A related post by Drew – Enabling the Power of Social Networks in the IC

Book II Posts at The Clausewitz Roundtable at Chicago Boyz

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009


Last week’s Book I. commentary was so extensive that our Book II. of On War discussion is just beginning to heat up at the links below:

Lexington Green – courtesy of Curzon of Coming Anarchy “U.S. Army Lt. Col. Clausewitz”

Lexington Green – Adam Elkus posts on “Clausewitz, The Rage of the People, and Strategies of Positive Ends”

Lexington GreenClausewitz, On War, Book 2: The “theory” of war is purely a means of professional formation.

KotareClausewitz, “On War”, Book 2: the fog of war

Cheryl RoferClausewitz, On War, Book 2: Clausewitz’s Science

[UPDATE] Capt. Nathaniel T. LauterbachClausewitz, On War, Book II: The Intellectual Style of the Military Genius

I had left Nate’s post off accidentally earlier today because there are some Book I. posts in between his and Cheryl’s at CB and I was posting in a hurry. Sorry Nate!

The Clausewitz Roundtable Archive

When Old Government Intersects with New Media

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Galrahn at Information Dissemination:

Admiral, Do You Tweet Sir?

….In no small part due to a comment in the article by John Nagl, the Small Wars Journal gets an honorable mention in this article as an example where new media is having influence in the national security debate. While it is possible other areas of new media are having a similar effect, I would argue the Small Wars Journal is the exception, not the rule, and is the only place this is happening. What makes the Small Wars Journal unique?Because it is where active and retired members of the military want to debate their ideas, want their opinions in the open source on any given topic, and Dave has tapped into a community that has become comfortable with their ideas debated in an open forum. The Small Wars Journal has the capacity to “help shape the public debate about national security policy” primarily because those involved in the debate have found value participating in the public debate.

As I have noted in the past, each military service has taken a unique approach to new media. The article highlights unique examples where our military leadership has found utility within new media to introduce and discuss their message. I follow all of these discussions, and they have all met the same challenge: the discussion is still one way and while there is a network, it is yet to become a truly interactive network of idea sharing, or just as relevant, idea shaping.

….What is the role of new media in the national security debate? I have asked this question on the blog since I began blogging, and have seen some brilliant answers in my email and in the comments. This CSM article added another slide to a brief I am building that answers this question. I think it is a really good brief, but the question I still haven’t answered is whether the better audience for the brief is the military services, or the think tanks. That John Nagl hasn’t suggested CNAS buy the Small Wars Journal from Dave suggests to me that the think tanks somehow believe the Web 1.0 model they all currently use will somehow stay relevant in the rapidly evolving information age.

Read the rest here.

Very interesting thoughts by Galrahn and I agree with his assessment of the value of SWJ as it evolved under the stewardship of Dave Dilegge and Bill Nagle though I’m not certain SWJ is unique so much as it is  a succcessful “first” because Dave and Bill did everything right. They allowed a community to form from the ground-up without trying to ramrod an ideological agenda. Sure, SWJ is primarily about COIN but opposing views are invited, welcomed, heard and debated because the moderators are honest brokers and that imparts credibility to the entire enterprise. Intellectual integrity begets quality as well as quantity in terms of readership and submissions.

Tradtional think tanks are not set up to do what SWJ does because they come with either ideological baggage (Heritage, Brookings Carnegie) or institutional affiliations (SSI, CNA, Hoover) that preemptively circumscribe membership, discussion and research interests for fear of drying up the revenue stream. Few large donors, be they Uncle Sam, Richard Mellon Scaife or George Soros, are motivated to open their checkbook by the idea of unfettered inquiry and unlimited time horizons or providing a platform to their professional or political opponents. Attempts by official orgs to imitate SWJ will result in costly but sterile echo chambers. Genuine Web 2.0 interactivity is not desired because it is spontaneous and unpredictable but without that interactivity there’s no spark, no insight and no intellectual productivity.

The Obama White House just started a “blog” but despite the sleek visual design, “The Briefing Room” is a very Web 1.0 format. Media expert Jay Rosen of Press Think  on Twitter described it as “press releases” and scanning the posts leads me to agree with him. It’s very hard for established legacy entities – even one now filled with techies – to embrace the risk of uncontrolled discussion. Perhaps the blog should be farmed out to whatever Obama is calling his private political action group; lacking comments or an authentic, personal, voice The Briefing Room is likely to become a tepid EOB version of Dipnote – except even less interesting.

The SWJ Model can be replicated for other fields but the requirements of independence, community-building, intellectual diversity, relative transparency, openness to membership and free debate appear to be non-negotiable elements. Features, not bugs. 

Tsuen Takk !

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009


 I would like to say “thanks” to whomever is associated with the Royal Norwegian Navy that placed a bulk order for copies of The John Boyd Roundtable: Debating Science, Strategy, and War through The Norwegian Library House. Much appreciated!

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