Monday, March 20, 2006

More GWOT documents are released

Athena at Terrorism Unveiled describes the release of more war-related documents for public review and the challenges it will create.

Recently, the public has been tossed a gem of what was previously unavailable open-source: Guantanamo Bay transcripts of detainee interrogations. There is an all-out organized effort to sift through these transcripts (some sets which are very lengthy), and write-up nuggets of information found within them. See GroupIntel for more. Thus far, Dan Darling has done a relentless job at reviewing them and has sent along overviews.

But Athena adds this caution.

But, herein lies the problem. Experienced analysts are needed, yet ones who haven't been stymied into accepting and spouting the typical intel community line. What's needed are analysts who can offer solid assessments based on the data. And from that, offer predictions that, inherently, cannot be within the data.


The release of detainee interrogation transcripts is unlikely to be the last event of the sort. There are many other research situations, some in the natural sciences, where there is more data than human analytical capability which can benefit from a dataset release to the public. Data dumps may not long be confined to Iraq-related documents. Supposing that were so, the organization of the blogosphere itself is likely to evolve to meet the challenge. Since not all bloggers will be equally interested in detainee interrogations, networks of specialists are likely to arise in order to perform data mining. A market in information nuggets will probably arise to consume the product.

If I am broadly right then there will probably be a demand for information tools which will allow for collaborative analysis of large data sets. A surprising number of tools are already available commercially, including Instant Messaging, e-mail and various types of groupware. HTTP itself allows the authoring of documents which one can progressively "drill-down" until a source document is reached. And specialized software or portals could be written to enhance collaboration among a distributed group of researchers. It sounds pretty exciting. Considering the general rise of knowledge workers in the economy, these developments are not only natural but probably inevitable.

Societies with well educated, technically capable populations and a large degree of freedom will benefit the most from opportunities like these, while restrictive societies will benefit least. While it would seem natural for bloggers in the Arab world to best take advantage interrogation transcripts or untranslated documents,  it may be Israelis, many of whom understand Arabic and English, who will have the initial lead because of their technical sophistication and unrestricted access to the Internet. As the information economy spreads there will be economic pressure on restrictive societies, including Osama's, where women are confined, to adapt or be left behind. Philip Bobbitt wrote that America's key strategic adaptation during the Cold War was developing the Globalized economy in its face-off with world Communism. To Bobbitt, Globalization was America's Communism-killer -- it forced Communist societies to stop being Communist in order to survive -- and the catalyst for unanticipated terrorist challenges from the Third World. It will be interesting to see what the shift to the Information Economy will do to radical Islam, just as to note what future enemies will be engendered by it.


Blogger PD Quig said...

"there will be economic pressure on restrictive societies, including Osama's, where women are confined, to adapt or be left behind."

Haven't they have been left behind already? Isn't that the root cause of the disaffection of their populace and the source of the commensurate draw of religious extremism? It provides a ready answer for their three centuries of failure. I have my doubts whether they can pull out of the flat spin.

3/20/2006 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

I have my doubts whether they can pull out of the flat spin.
The moslems are not in a tail spin. They're doing just fine. Even their bozo laws are being heard in ever newer places around the world. The Moslem world is in advance. They're not in retreat. So they're doing something right.

(Yeah Yeah everyone else is getting into hi tech. But hi tech by itself is no metric for success.)

3/20/2006 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger Sonspot said...

The Moslems are having success in the only area that really matters,reproduction.

3/20/2006 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Brett L said...

Interesting debate of metrics b/t the first two commenters. I'm not sure that it can be resolved, but what is immediately apparent is that some of us measure by self-centric (perhaps individual-centric is a less loaded phrase) metrics - income, leisure time, education, life span. While I am personally in favor of these metrics being higher, they may not be of any value in societal conflict. As charles points out, the Moslem genes and memes are spreading, whilst the Christian/post-Christian genes and memes seemed to have reached a plateau.

'Course, having alternate forms of entertainment in the home after dark obviously has something to do with the disparity, but the meme pool is much smaller, too. Maybe meme flow is like water: narrow and deep has more immediate power than broad and shallow. Note: 'deep' and 'shallow' are being used to describe quantity (as metaphorical water), not quality of idea as usually associated with thinking.

3/20/2006 01:43:00 PM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

Post christian genes and memes are not reaching a plateau, not when essentially atheist China is up for grabs. The Pope just appointed a fighter as cardinal for China, which indicates that he recognises the Middle Kingdom as a key battleground in the future, for either politics or religion.

I don't see Islam making much headway there.

3/20/2006 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Afghan Man Faces Execution After Converting to Christianity

If this guy does get executed then it's time to pack up and ship out and pull out the Screw Them All playbook.

3/20/2006 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

The West, primarily the United States, didn't bring down the Soviets by globalization. Ron W. Reagan against almost all odds brought them down.
It didn't hurt an iota either that RWR authorized the sales of certain computer technology to them that was programmed to fail after a certain period of time. That was creative,effective, and stunningly cunning.
It also didn't hurt that since Lenin's first Five Year Play communism was destine to fail. Without the help of the NY Times and Walter J. Duranty it would have collsped much sooner.
Now we stand at the precipice of a newer threat that if not taken out with massive force, not just guided humane ammo but mile wide mile long carpet bombing, we're in big trouble. Make Tehran a Dresden.
"Kill 'em ..kill 'em all" ...T.J. Jackson at Fredricksburg

3/20/2006 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

In the analogy of blood flow through a body, the information infrastructure has finally flowed to every region and each limb has new neural scintillations flowing to the domain routing system of the brain connecting each sphere, through the ultimate information backbone, the corpus-collosium.

Speaking of the Israelis, the translation of the dead sea scrolls when poorly and created a lot of friction until the Israelis finally scanned and posted everything online. This allowed a community of researchers to each make their mark on the effort, in short creating a competitive environment where each tried very hard to outdo the other.

I have long been a skeptic of some of the tenants of Globalization, one being the conversion of the US into a service economy, it suggest that the US will eventually be an economy driven by lawyers and pizza delivery men. The logic was that we trade off to other nations our ability to produce hard goods, but that is OK because China will employ our services, but this is rubbish, China doesn’t need our lawyers for much the same reasons it doesn’t need our pizza delivery men, save if they are suing an American country. I wonder to if the “information economy” too is not a bunch of smoke and mirrors, not too say that exciting possibilities do exist in areas that used to be the sole domain of institutions.

Will voice recognition and language translation software ever improve to the point that politically bias translations will become a thing of the past?

3/20/2006 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Muslims are using demographics and high birth rate as their weapon. "Democracy now" and all that jazz, will not adress this threat. If creative solutions are needed, this is one area desperately in need of them being applied.

3/20/2006 03:13:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Whether it is nice or mean, good or bad, the shift towards the service sector is inevitable.

Here is the IMF's report on "deindustrialization" (there is a substantial amount of literature out there that supports the point, but this is linkable). I would suggest reading it.

As for the point about the net, I agree with Wretchard. The net makes proximity irrelevant in regards to information processing. Minds can link up with each other like neurons, without cost (besides time), and without having to be near each other or physically near the information they process. Much like localized specialization in the brain, the net allows these numerous aggregations of mind to simultaneously process and transmit a large and varied amount of information, but instead of being confined in space, they are dispersed with little or no regard for the third dimension.

As I said before, Americans process information at the society level in an incredibly efficient, responsive, and fault-tolerant way. Unless our competitors emulate this organizational freedom, there's no way they will be able to compete.

3/20/2006 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

Aristides believes other societies,clans,tribes,etc cannot compete with us due to our overwhelming communications and technological abilities.
Really worked in Viet Nam and was especially effective for the Romans to be too advanced as to never be challenged.
Mao had it about right...power grows out the barrel of a gun. We can not afford to be so arrogant as to believe we will out techno all comers...come on Aristides jump on the wagon and lets start with less analysis and more killing. That wins, every time.

3/20/2006 04:43:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...


Thanks for the report from the IMF. Pyramids, to work, need to have a dynacism, like changing economic conditions. It worked well with NAFTA. Mexico which still has a significant trade surplus with the US used to get a lot of manufacturing contracts. The middle class economy was booming. But as other third world nations came online jobs shifted from Mexico to other regions of the world. I guess Mexico is screwed up because they haven’t converted to a “service economy” yet. As long as we have weltering hell holes in the third world the constant shifting of manufacturing jobs will continue to occur until one shiny day Namibia will announce that they are changing over to a service economy. UAE is already looking for the collapse of the oil economy and is busily converting their substantial economy into a service economy.

Yes, we have been evolving to a service sector economy. I gave up trying to fight that since John Nasbitt’s Mega Trends in the 80’s. I used to work in commercial, industrial, and medical manufacturing but since the US doesn’t need these things anymore, I have worked in the defense industry which suits me fine. Believe me when the world goes up in smoke I know that business is going to be picking up. We have a saying that we kinda borrowed from P.J. O’Rouke; “Peace is hell”. The beauty of defense is that it is a perfect amalgam of service and hard goods for the stately purpose of killing people and breaking things. This is the epitome societal evolution and we can look forward to the whole world to adapt into a defense exporting service economy. Why build nuclear power plants when we can all work in a service economy? It’s easy really; I sanitize your phone once a month and you style my hair. It’s a perfectly balanced pyramid.

I still don’t understand how one feeds themselves with service or how information puts gas in the tank of my car. But oh well, I gave up expecting logical answer for those who follow quixotic religious beliefs also.

3/20/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

One of the great mythologies that dominates Washington, D.C is that of the all-competent generalist. Organizations such as the General Accounting Office operate under the fiction that such generalists can collect the data provided by the real experts and reach independent conclusions that will offer new and valuable insights.

This view is complete crap; such independence invariably equates to specific incompetence at best, all too often agenda-driven results, and at worst absurdity. Come to think of it, the absurdity is one of the better outcomes; at least people will tend to ignore it.

The internet and the organizations that use it (inhabit it?) offers the ability to have expertise applied in a manner that is potentially both independent and specific. The National Guard Memos kerfluffle is a great example of this. The real exerts on the internet uncovered the forgery immediately and others added to, verified, and amplified their findings – and very importantly, disseminated it in fashion that could not be ignored by at least some of the media. The “front porch” offered by Wretchard is an example of all of this.

Now, how do we apply this capability to the current war? And more importantly, how do we ensure that the people who believe in the all-competent generalist pay any attention?

3/20/2006 04:54:00 PM  
Blogger Milan Oskoryp Sr. said...

annoy_mouse 4:46PM.
You have problem like every futurist must have.How do you know you will need gas for the car,how do you know you will need a car?
Meal can come from wall/joke more or less/.
Who can say there is going to be "annoy mouse # 12."Or Belmont Club.Or myself # 11.
There are going to be moronic robots and us #11 and # 12 will be on something as hard drive as "informaticum."No pizza boy and no sex stories,a la "Milkman."
Sad time is comming on us.
/end of futuristic joking.

3/20/2006 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

"how do you know you will need a car?"

You got me there. I just need a lounge chair and and some one nice to plop grapes in my mouth.

3/20/2006 05:17:00 PM  
Blogger Milan Oskoryp Sr. said...

Maybe return into seventh century,what is the same as rant before.

3/20/2006 05:17:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...


Certainly futurists missed the telecommunication information revolution, the internet ecology, and all that.

3/20/2006 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger Milan Oskoryp Sr. said...

Metuselah 5:25.
Right.That is the reason I am no futurist.Broadcast Eng.
Do you know where is that Pinus?

3/20/2006 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger heather said...

Leavitt, Norton and Co. had a press conference about the Bird Flu problem, proadcast on CSpan. The Press Was there to explain everything to the great unwashed!! One guy asked about Katrina, would the response be better than Katrina??? (Patiently, Leavitt explained that an Epidemic would last 18 months, and not many people would be splashing around helping out in other regions, etc).
Then. One guy asked why the US was not going to the SOURCE of the problem, over there in "Asia". And, you know, the one or two ducks they raise "over there." This intellectual giant had missed the part about "migration patterns".. and that the BIRDS are having an epidemic right now, we just hope the virus doesn't change enough to affect human populations...

Anyway, we are lucky, lucky, to have the internet, and CSpan. Not only are the journalists crippled with political blinders, they are STUPID and IGNORANT.

Remember the event of the murder on Haifa Street? Thus revealing that the AP is getting its news from local (insurgent supporting) "stringers"?

And then, CSpan has Jennifer Slavin chat about Iran on some panel or another: the very picture of Junior League snobbery, she met all the "best" people in Iran, and it is all Bush's fault that we don't "engage" with those nice people with the pleasant manners and excellent backgrounds that she met with on her little visit...The President Armageddon by the way, is definitely "not nice" in the estimation of the Iranian ruling class, and therefore we are quite silly to take him seriously.


3/20/2006 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Senate committee combines identity protection measures:

Bob Johnson of the Insurance Federation of Minnesota warned about too strong of a law.

“We are in an information economy, nationally and internationally,” Johnson said, and making it more difficult to transfer information could affect commerce.

“Minnesota is doing well” in protecting consumers, Johnson said.

Identity Protection

3/20/2006 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...


They keep it a secret. But I walked in the grove where it is located.

3/20/2006 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Annoy Mouse,
I share your lack of enthusiasm for the de-industrialization of America.Perhaps I have an inherent bias having been raised a Rust Belt urchin,but something doesn't feel right about it.Have you taken a look at western New York lately?When I was a child ,it was a rough,blighted place,but you could make a working class living.Now its rougher,more blighted still,getting old with all the factories boarded up.I wonder what Michigan and Ohio will look like when Big Auto bites the bullet.
Here in the southeast,large rural areas where textiles were made don't make much but crytal meth any more.
I don't see this as a positive development or one that necessarily has an easy fix.Isn't the free trader's motto that a rising sea will raise all boats?Yeah,or sink this one.

3/20/2006 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger internet_guy said...

I believe Wretchard is absolutely correct. There needs to be a confluence of collaboration tools, search tools, translation tools, and data mining tools. The question of whether people will be doing this on their own is more a question of when than if.

As an example, inspired by the events of 9/11 and a particular story about the challenges of "connecting the dots" in a distributed environment, I've been working on tools that let individuals build document repositories on their own computers, search them just like they would Google, and more importantly, in tandem search the document repositories of selected collaborators. I intend to make this software available for free on the internet. The idea is to put searching tools for large document repositories in the hands of individuals who can form private, collaborative groups in which document repositories are shared and searched, without any one participant having to put a big server on-line.

There has been important work done over the last 2-3 years in the area of automated language translation. The most interesting work seems to be the use of statistical correlations in translation. This works by computing the word/phrase correlations in a body of documents in which you have 2 languages (e.g. English and Arabic). A large enough sample set will allow you to do a pretty good job of automated transation w/o the complexity of traditional translation systems (i.e. syntactical/grammatical analysis.) The U.N., for all of its irrelevance, puts out documents in multiple languages by the ton. Many are available on-line. Churning through thousands of those documents to compute the statistical correlation of phrases in English and Arabic seems like a useful use of some computer's time.

There have been some reports on-line that Google has developed some VERY sophisticated language translation technology. Even arabic->english translations. Expect to hear more on this in the coming months.

The size and reach of the open-source movement is telling in this regard. We're not all bloggers, but we're not all sitting on our hands, either. I don't intend to sit around doing nothing and hope the CIA gets it right next time. I'm working hard to equip the very kind of people Wretchard is talking about. Others are too. I'm confident you'll see more and more interesting analysis from individuals in the months ahead.

3/20/2006 08:04:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Very stimulating, Idea Professor!

That Information itself takes on a weight of its own have a world changing effect, thanks in this case to the unique collaborative environment of the Web and blogs.

But then it gets scary Since not all bloggers will be equally interested in detainee interrogations, networks of specialists are likely to arise in order to perform data mining.

Up to now, "data mining" has been done by robots and programs, but in our journey back to the future, humans are doing the mining.

The obvious, ongoing application of massively multi-player online (MMO) dynamic organization of talent to analyze huge amounts of data is fantastically empowering, but as we all know, people are going to play games when they get to this state.

Witness, Google.

3/20/2006 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

I would think the documents were authored by a relatively small group of people. Why not recreate this group and have it catalogue, translate, and explain the material. Coalition forces should've had this done long ago.

3/20/2006 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger Ð”dαm Ŧhε Mαd said...


In the analogy of blood flow through a body,

Hmm, poor analogy me thinks. The internet isn't really like a single body. Nor must it become so. It really is a unique beast. And I think Wretch's solicitation doesn't really sing neutral praises of a single beast's metagraph...

Speaking of the Israelis

Sorry, again. You're refering to something not mentioned.

I have long been a skeptic of some of the tenants of Globalization

Whether or not there are 'tenants' to a decentralized interaction such as globalization, the US will not become a purely service-oriented economy. Case and point, Japan has been undergoing the same processes that the US has experienced, in terms of manufacturing systems. They have excelled at the art even at a time when price /cost elements have been at their most insistent. And, in fact, they have figured out how to retain a manufacturing base with China Inc. next door. (The hint here is the occurance of weak to non-existent unions, and their utilization of areas of the world where unions do not have extra-legal powers.)

I wonder to(sic) if the “information economy” too is not a bunch of smoke

Hmm, perhaps we should ask one of those etherial beings that inhabit this insubstantial realm that has enveloped the US. What do you do know? You are speaking to one! In the very flesh.

Whether you acknowledge it or not information is very valuable. Incontrovertable evidence lies in the fact that you chose to read this very Blog over others (one assumes that you actually read the posts, unlike a few commenters. *cough*Goud*)
My new occupation relies on my delivery of information. About what, you ask?
About the US. Yes, information about single largest economy* is still to interesting to businesses worldwide. (*extra credit: Why is China neither a single, nor a modern economy?)

*I guarantee pizza sales will increase in China in the next 10 years, baring a revolution. Care to wager a bet?

The point being, my friend, is that you have chosen an uncritical stance that is too common these days. Yes, uncritical, or should I say, dyspeptic, with touches of reflexive cynicism? It really isn't unwarranted to have reservations about the wild, unknown global economy, but the shivering, Art Bell castigations are wearing thin. Please tell your support group to come up with something more entertaining from now on.

Will voice recognition and language translation software ever improve to the point that politically bias translations will become a thing of the past?

What is the average vocabulary of a news story or bureaucratic file? Not too high, I imagine. What is the average common phrase set of the semi-educated citizen? Again, probably something that won't exercise the average CPU much. Most bureaucrats and politicos don't have a wide ranging writing style, so I must presume that it is only a matter of time before expert systems catch up.
***Special credit to youngsters who choose this line of occupation. Especially those who don't believe the MSM's brand of bias.***



3/20/2006 09:35:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Give us back our crown jewels:

Imagine you had bought this newspaper for a friend. Imagine you asked them to tell you what's in the TV listings - and they demanded cash before they would tell you.

The applications for public sector data are infinite, but here are two real-world ones that affect ordinary businesses. Many of Britain's best rock-climbing venues are on sea cliffs, and hence affected by the tides. For climbers planning a trip - and surely spending money in local shops - it helps to know if the tides will be favourable. But websites that try to offer British tide data have been told by the UK Hydrographic Office they must pay for it - a cost most are unwilling to endure.

Kristin Woodland, who chairs the local authorities' street gazetteer group, says: "The taxpayer pays for us to create the data, then has to pay us to use the data."

Happily, the practice of state-owned monopolies competing in markets dependent on their information is under attack from several quarters. A new trade association, Locus, is calling for the government to enforce a level playing field in the market in public sector information.

Britain's Taxes Funding Collection of Public Data

3/20/2006 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"But, herein lies the problem. Experienced analysts are needed, yet ones who haven't been stymied into accepting and spouting the typical intel community line."

I'm curious: What is the "typical intel community line"? The intel community is vast and fragmented - factious, even. As Adam the Mad might say, in his own deeply confused and confusing way, "it isn't really like a single body", though "it is a unique beast", which is certainly grammatically and metaphorically singular, but which cannot be understood, Adam tells us, as a single entity. Right, Adam?

If anyone has any insight into "the typical intel community line" that part-time freelance online analysts must avoid or overcome, I'm all ears.

3/20/2006 11:55:00 PM  
Blogger Milan Oskoryp Sr. said...

I know they are protecting it.I protect the plants.I drove 38,000 km backroads SW,Mex.PUSILKA is mine URL or
Mine gun is digital camera.

3/21/2006 02:14:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Information... world wide...

Think, for a moment, of millions of informed, intelligent individuals around the world; observing and reporting on their local observations of politics, frictions, racial dis/harmony, economic trends, EVERYTHING that is important locally, across every linguistic, racial, political and class stratum;

With the information and observations being collected, sorted and sifted systematically and intelligently by committed, apolitical, educated persons and teams at the local, regional and national levels; and

the pertinent information, collected by people dedicated to the independent investigation of truth, sent to a correlating, synthesizing team called the Universal House of Justice, Haifa, Israel...

Is it POSSIBLE that the quality of that information, those observations and the reports born of analysis and synthesis of these local, international and world-wide trends, MIGHT be qualitatively better than the information available to any other nation, including but not limited to the US and its allies?

The telegraph, sign of and initiator of the information age (when the water of knowledge covers the earth) was born on the same day as the Baha'i Faith.

Just ANOTHER coincidence...

3/21/2006 04:57:00 AM  
Blogger Chester said...

W, I hope you are enjoying Philip Bobbitt. To be specific, he mentioned that the strategic innovations which parliamentary governments developed to win the Long War from 1914-1990 were a)nuclear weapons, b)massive computational power, and c)communications in all of its forms, both logistics, supply, and data and voice.

In other words, these were strategic innovations, but their end result was a global economy -- one wonders a bit at causality here: whether the economy was the goal or a pleasant second-order effect. This is my view.

But now, the global economy yields innovations faster than any government could. How will states survive? My guess is in the means they develop to pursue and destroy terrorists across the boundaries of bureaucracy and sovereignty, and the decisions that they make about how to surveil their own populations. In the course of deciding these actions, new ideologies will be created and I bet we may find in the future that democracies might go to war with each other after all . . .

Every time you mention Philip Bobbitt I give myself a mental hgh-five.


3/21/2006 06:42:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

Internet guy,
You would hope that the Pentagon/CIA are already doing something along those lines. Use of automated translators would at least allow them to prioritize the documents.

3/21/2006 06:44:00 AM  
Blogger speaker-to-animals said...

But, herein lies the problem. Experienced analysts are needed, yet ones who haven't been stymied into accepting and spouting the typical intel community line

urrr...just a couple of nits sir.
1. the blogverse ain't getting ANY raw data.
2. the blogverse ain't getting ALL the data.
You need experienced analysts with clearances.

and about that community line...all the analysts i know are absolutely ethical and completely dedicated. we've taken oaths and poly's inorder to protect classified information.
i've been called in at night before, and worked a twenty-four hour shift.
i pretty much resent that community line remark.

what you need is pre-digestion tools to aggregate results and feed product back to the folks with access to ALL the data.
Or bogclearances.

3/21/2006 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger speaker-to-animals said...


3/21/2006 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger speaker-to-animals said...

AND one more thing while i am running my mouth.
I've seen some slander about gay arabic translators being fired for being gay, and that is wrong.
They were fired for flunking their poly, just like someone having an illicit affair or incurring huge gambling debt that flunked would be fired.
their personal lives made them vulnerable to exploitation. the poly revealed it. being able to pass a poly once a year was a condition of their employment.
you can't be fired for being gay in america, but you can be fired for flunking your poly.
It's their data, and their rules for protecting it.

3/21/2006 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...


I'm with ya. And thoroughly PO'd by the "intel community line" line.

3/21/2006 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger the mad fiddler said...

Wretchard, you have once again managed to make me reel and stagger under the sudden epiphany your big thoughts engender.

The notion of

3/24/2006 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger the mad fiddler said...

The notion of hyper-linked text documents emerging from interrogations of detainees in custody is a mind-stretching concept, and certainly people must be feverishly at work. Presumably there are actually some folks currently employed by our own government that have been for years working at such tasks. Most likely though, their work is classified and will remain so.

It would be mighty interesting to know the form in which such transcripts are made public — Printed text on paper? Or ascii files?

"Data mining" means directed research, i.e., the sifting of vast piles of raw data by someone with some thoughtfully organized guidelines, historical perspective, and multi-disciplinary training enough to note links between obscure items in the data to the world outside. It would be enlightening to have a discussion or essay on how a "data mining" program or algorithm might be organized.

I'm just an animator & musician, who has dabbled just a little with computers over the years. Can anyone suggest a starting point for making sense of this?

3/24/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger the mad fiddler said...

Thank you Annoy Mouse, for getting your finger on the point that struck me: It is the analysis of data that makes the so-called "service economy" a workable proposition. But that’s a beacon off beyond the horizon, and we have a very long way to go before most people will be able to make their living in such sophisticated activities.

I don’t believe the U.S.can afford merely to ponder the burgeoning datastreams spawned by the frenzy of those benighted primitives who continue to toil at jobs meant to produce actual tangible STUFF.

The disappearance of our most productive crop lands under the sprawl of new housing developments and shopping malls is lamented by many. But when you think of it, the asphalt and concrete and buildings are encapsulating and protecting the underlying soil against the day when we will need it again!

Meanwhile we buy more and more tomatoes and grapes from third-world countries where the farm laborers do not enjoy the hard won benefits that César Chavez and his fellows fought to achieve within our borders. And it seems they also do not enjoy the same level of sanitation and immunization from, say, Hepatitis. Thus, there have been a few significant clusters of food poisoning from fresh vegetables imported under NAFTA protocols. Ah, well... “Cost/Benefit” seems to be the key phrase.

If anything proves the worth of the information economy, it is this forum and others like it, where plodding dolts like me can get an education that otherwise would require years of slog at university.

Thanks, guys. =:-)

3/24/2006 08:52:00 PM  
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