IC AND THE BLOGOSPHEREDr. Barnett
used the widely circulated Belmont Club
post " The Blogosphere at War
" to make some salient points about the intelligence community and the blogosphere:"What Wretchard describes is essentially the competition the unclassified blogs are already offering the classified world of the intelligence community, which is why the IC is replicating this function from within (problem being, it's still the same isolated, self-selecting community inside the IC, just armed with different conversation tools)."
As it has been put previously elsewhere regarding intellipedia
, social networking software isn't going to work if the users express great reluctance to be social. Blogs are only read if the blogger puts down something interesting in a post.However that doesn't impugn the utility of the tools, just the users. Effectively using such "conversational tools" on a large scale will require significant cultural evolution -if not a revolution - within the IC, but it is heartening that there is at least, a start ( Haft of the Spear and Kent's Imperative
have written on the new tools more than once).
The psychological change could come with generational turnover but we really don't have the luxury of adopting a leisurely pace in the middle of a war just so that so that USG graybeards who have their secretaries print out their email won't be thrown into "futureshock". The inch wide and mile deep vertical thinking style, reinforced by security compartmentalization is simply going to have to change in an era when a pediatrician and a multimillionaire construction company owner can launch a transnational insurgency."That opponents already actively target this realm says several things: 1) the blogosphere is more immediate and responsive than the IC to both pulsing from without and self-correction on bad analysis (the blogosphere is nothing if not cruelly self-critical,and gleefully so); 2) this gap is likely to widen, thus making the blogosphere the more natural target for information operations (which means we should meet this challenge symmetrically, and yes, the IC considers this option very seriously, but I suspect it will be terrible at it (and already is) for all the usual cultural reasons (it's just not the personality they attract, not in the individual skills, but in the confident capacity to act en masse, although a generational shift within the IC may fix that with time); and 3) shaping hearts and minds goes both ways (an essential reality of 4GW).
Many in the U.S. national security establishment will want to go symmetrical on this score, but I think that would be a mistake and probably fruitless. I believe the blogosphere will evolve and grow in such way as to allow it to handle this field of perceptions battle quite nicely, making it within a decade or so to be more important than the IC itself in the Long War."
The learning curve for the blogosphere will be less steep on this score when a few veteran experts on planting disinformation, orchestrating black propaganda and other elements of psychological warfare begin some blogs that critique the ongoing IO campaigns that swirl through the media the way that that former political consultants were hired as talking heads to deconstruct the tricks of election campaigns.