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Interview Audio: Elliot Jardines, Assistant Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Open Source

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(18:32 / 5.2 MB / Subscribe to Interview Audio)

Listen to an interview with Elliot Jardines.

More information on the Open Source Intelligence conference here.

Transcript Coming Soon.
January 17th, 2006

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Interview Audio: Congressman Rob Simmons, Chairman of Homeland Security Intelligence & Information Sharing Subcommitee

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(15:01 / 4.3 MB / Subscribe to Interview Audio)

Listen to an interview with Congressman Rob Simmons.

More information on the Open Source Intelligence conference here.

Transcript Coming Soon.
January 17th, 2006

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Filming Interviews at Open Source Intelligence Conference

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I will be attending a conference next week put on by Robert David Steele's Open Source Solutions called Information Operations, Open Source Intelligence, & Peacekeeping Intelligence.

There will be an interesting mix of government intelligence professionals, corporate competitive intelligence professionals, knowledge management experts and embassy representatives from around the world.

Steele has granted me permission to film interviews with various speakers throughout the conference, and I will be particularly interested in capturing insights that professional intelligence analysts can provide to investigative and participatory journalism.

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Community Audio: Micah Sifry, Open Source Politics

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A discussion about Open Source Politics with Micah Sifry, who was the eCampaign director of the Andrew Rasiej Campaign for Public Advocate and is the executive editor of

Sifry wrote up a lengthy post-mortem on their attempts at conducting a network-centric political campaign, and I responded to it here. I had pitched their campaign with an idea to remix one of my video blog posts about balancing top-down control with bottom-up participation, but they didn't have the time to carry it through.

But I wanted to follow up with Sifry to find out how open source, collaborative media could interact with open source politics. This was one of the important insights from our conversation:

I think campaigns may be the last place where the innovations are going to start. Because the pressure of doing a campaign is so intense and there really are so many conventional ingredients that people feel that they have to do. And the innovations are going to come -- in the political arena -- they're going to come from the edges, and they're also going to come from, I believe, from ongoing issues. Organizations that work on issues or new organizations that are being create to work on issues because they have a longer life span. And they can be incubators for new ways for doing things that in some cases campaigns, you just don't have the time -- or at best, you have time to try one or two new things and then keep going.

So in a traditional politial campaign, by the time you've gathered together the professional instincts from the fundraising team, scheduler, field team, communications team, web team, campaign manager and pollsters, then there really isn't a lot of room left for thinking outside of the box.

Most of the radical innovations for network centric advocacy will probably come from long-term, issue-based campaigns and from organizations who are able to bring together existing networks to collectively scratch the same itch at the same time.

I hope that The Echo Chamber Project can provide some new ways for collaborating and communicating with rich media.

Sifry is also interested in having someone explain why Drupal is such an interesting platform, and to explain the practical needs of the developer community to the larger audience of the political technology community at Personal Democracy.

(70:55 / 22.6 MB / Subscribe to Community & Technology Audio)

Click here to listen to the MP3

(Photo Credit: Culture Kitchen)

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Migrating Open Source Intelligence Insights Into Participatory Journalism

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I have argued before that the field of Intelligence Analysis can provide many insights for how journalism could do a better job at discovering, discriminating, distilling, and disseminating knowledge.

It seems as though Open Source Intelligence advocate and founder of Robert Davis Steele has also been suggesting that there be a migration of these analytical insights into the public domain:

Because the policymaker is inundated with contradictory information lacking methodical evaluation, a critical priority must be the transfer of the proven methods of classified intelligence analysis, to the world of unclassified information.

Steele calls it a "critical priority" to transfer these advanced analytical techniques and methodologies into the hands of ordinary citizens. This is part of Steele's larger vision for creating an open source network of NGOs, academic institutions, international organizations and potentially individual citizens that could tap into the wisdom of the electorate and create the "possibility of revolutionizing governance by revolutionizing what government can know, how it knows it, how it decides, and how it communicates both its decision and supporting information."

Steele suggests creating a public intelligence "skunk works" that would "focus on creating public intelligence sources, softwares, and services that elevate the utility of all information to all citizens all the time."

There are many unanswered questions for how Steele's vision will be implemented by the coalition of private corporations that he's building, and how much government support and cooperation he will eventually receive. But I would argue that the press should have some role to play in this type of coalition because it sounds very similar to the public interest mandate that the field of journalism aspires to fulfill.

The press is facing an economic and credibility crisis as they attempt to reinvent how they create and deliver their information products. Wall Street pressures are moving the newspaper industry towards implosion by forcing cutbacks and diminishing the amount of available resources for journalists to gather the news -- let alone introduce even more complexity to how they analyze and make sense of the endless stream of facts. But the industry is at a cross roads, and they must change or die.

There happens to be many similar dot-connecting challenges facing the US Intelligence agencies where reform has been hindered by an obsession with secrecy as well as the business models of vested interests that are more focused on "esoteric collection systems" than figuring out how to make sense of the hoards of collected data.

This post is intended to explore the parallels to these challenges and how solutions to all of these challenges can be found through the converging trajectories of Open Source Intelligence and Participatory Journalism. As Steele says,

It is essential that operational, logistics, acquisition, and other information be managed as a coherent whole, not in isolation from classified intelligence. Sharing and sense-making, not hoarding and secrecy, are the watchwords today.

The opposite of information hoarding is collaborative participation, and the opposite of secrecy is transparency. Blogging is pushing journalism to be more participatory and transparent while Steele's Open Source Intelligence initiatives are doing the same in the national security domain. In both cases, the cooperative principles of Open Source holds the keys to unlocking these potentials of the wisdom of the crowd and the trust of the electorate.

The post looks at the following issues...


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Community Audio: Yeast Radio Interview with Kent Bye

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Madge Weinstein interviewed me last week about the Echo Chamber Project, and I thought I'd send it down the Community Feed since it is a great encapsulation of the project so far.

Wired featured Madge's Yeast Radio show, which was picked up by Podshow Network that is broadcast on SIRIUS radio.

(53:00 / 34.6 / Subscribe to Community & Technology Audio)

Click here to listen to the MP3

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Community Audio: Chris Messina, Applying Open Source Strategies

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A broad discussion about how open source principles could be applied to media, politics and national security with open source advocate Chris Messina. I also give an brief update with where I'm at with The Echo Chamber Project.

Messina and I met in Portland, Maine over Thanksgiving break, and we recorded 80 minutes of our conversation.

Chris and I also previously had a 50-minute Skype discussion a few weeks ago, but there were some audio issues that I believe stemmed from Messina's microphone.

Messina has been involved with, Flock, CivicSpace, Drupal and the Barcamp conference modeled after open space.

(78:55 / 22.6 MB / Subscribe to Community & Technology Audio)

Click here to listen to the MP3

(Photo Credit: dmc500hats)

Also, I had an earlier conversation with Chris, but be warned that the audio is a bit low due.

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Can Open Source Intelligence Be a Non-Violent Alternative to War?

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Chris Messina and I were talking about how open source principles could be applied to national security and defense issues, and I mentioned that there was an effort for Open Source Intelligence.

I also speculated that eventually information could be used as a non-violent alternative for war. At the time, I was basing this prediction on my own observations for how information could be used for non-violent conflict resolution. I hadn't really come across a strong intellectual argument for how this new media revolution & advances in communications technologies could actually help bring peace and security to the planet.

But then I discovered a draft of Robert Davis Steele's book that will be titled "INFORMATION OPERATIONS: All Information, All Languages, All the Time" when I was checking up on the latest news from Steele's Open Source Solutions website.

This book was written by Steele, who is a former Marine Corps and CIA intelligence official -- and someone who has been advocating for Open Source Intelligence for the last 17 years. Steele writes, "information-sharing, exploiting all sources in all languages all the time, is the central tenet of defense in the age of information."

Steele argues that the United States is at a strategic dead-end with funding Cold War era war machinery...

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Volunteer Opportunities

Yeast Radio's Madge Weinstein just interviewed me about the Echo Chamber Project, and it was a very good encapsulation of where I'm at and where I'm going.

This will hopefully help drive some volunteers to the site, and so this post should serve as a launching pad for what you can do to get more involved.

The most immediate thing to do is to subscribe to one of my RSS feeds. I am trying to build out my support network, and this is one of the simplest ways to help build some momentum for the project. This will show that I have people listening, and I'll be able to have more influence and get more things done as the community grows.

So for anyone already subscribed to my old blog feed, then please switch to my new "All Media" feedburner feed -- which now includes my daily links as well as all video and audio enclosures.

I've also created separate video and audio feeds. My vlog feed is still the same, but I've added two new audio feeds with interview audio and audio from technical conversations about building up the collaborative technology.

As my "Interview Audio" audience grows, then I will start releasing more and more audio from these 76 interviews.

Another really easy thing to do is to sign up as a user on this site. That way I can get your e-mail, and you'll be set to get more involved as the project progresses.

If you can code PHP, and want to help create the open source Drupal modules for collaborative media production, then please send me a direct e-mail at This is vital because these PHP coders will be able facilitate even more people getting involved down the road, so please help spread the word to your technologist friends and bloggers.

I'm also on the lookout for any business-minded people who want to help produce the film and put together a business plan for open media production.

Also -- if you would like to help transcribe small chunks of interviews, then this page has more information: Help Transcribe These Interviews. I'm hoping to recruit a swarm of volunteers who can help transcribe 3-minute chunks of audio. The bulk of the transcription has been completed, but I have a lot of short interviews that I'm starting to release -- So these are very small-scale and doable transcriptions.

I'd like to eventually be able to quickly produce a transcript for an hour interview by having 20 people transcribe 3-minute chunks simultaneously. And I'll probably need a team of around 40-50 available volunteer transcribers in order to achieve this.

This type of distributed transcription will be key for collaborative investigative journalism -- at least until automatic transcription comes along.


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Thirteen Interview Transcripts Posted

I spent a lot of the last week proofreading a number of transcripts, and I just posted these following 13 interview transcripts:

* John R. MacArthur, Harper's Magazine, Publisher
* Pamela Hess, United Press International, Pentagon Beat Reporter
* Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! Host
* Robert Dreyfuss, Investigative Reporter, Nation, American Prospect, Mother Jones, Rolling Stone
* Jack Nelson, Los Angeles Times, Retired Washington Bureau Chief
* Lawrence Grossman, NBC News & PBS, Retired President
* Tom Rosenstiel, Committee for Concerned Journalists, Director
* Cliff Kincaid, Accuracy in Media, Contributing editor
* Susan Moeller, University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism, Associate Professor
* Todd Gitlin, Columbia University Professor, Graduate School of Journalism
* John Prados, National Security Archive, Senior Fellow
* Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies, Fellow
* Karen Kwiatkowski, Retired Pentagon Policy Analyst, Near East South Asia