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.