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Government News

CIA Officers Are Warming To Intellipedia 102

Hugh Pickens writes "The CIA is adopting Web 2.0 tools like collaborative wikis but not without a struggle in an agency with an ingrained culture of secrecy. 'We're still kind of in this early adoptive stage,' says Sean Dennehy, a CIA analyst and self-described 'evangelist' for Intellipedia, the US intelligence community's version of the popular user-curated online encyclopedia Wikipedia adding that 'trying to implement these tools in the intelligence community is basically like telling people that their parents raised them wrong. It is a huge cultural change.' Dennehy says Intellipedia, which runs on secure government intranets and is used by 16 US intelligence agencies, was started as a pilot project in 2005 and now has approximately 100,000 user accounts and gets about 4,000 edits a day. 'Some people have (supported it) but there's still a lot of other folks kind of sitting on the fence.' Dennehy says wikis are 'a challenge to our culture because we grew up in this kind of "need to know" culture and now we need a balance between "need to know" and "need to share."' A desire to compartamentalize information is another problem. 'Inevitably, every person, the first question we were asked is "How do I lock down a page?" or "How do I lock down a page so that just my five colleagues can access that?"' The growth of Intellipedia has so far largely been fueled by early adopters and enthusiasts says Chris Rasmussen, a social-software knowledge manager and trainer at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. 'We are struggling to take it to the next level.'"
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CIA Officers Are Warming To Intellipedia

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  • Kind of Surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @10:31AM (#28334969)
    CIA is about the last agency I'd suspect of trying this. I use Intellipedia at work, and have been trying to advocate its use more, but like TFS said, most people in the IC talk about "need to know", not "need to share." There's a lot of products that really should just be pages on Intellipedia, like biographies on important people, but instead are powerpoint slides on someone's hard drive. Meanwhile, multiple commands are tracking the same people but aren't sharing info on those bios. I think we'll see more progress on this as senior leadership move out and people who grew up on Web 2.0 move up.
  • Thank you (and many others on these boards) for distributing the FUD.

    As I hope we all have learned by now, information that is "compartmentalized" is far less valuable. Little bits of data from disparate sources can reveal patterns that those gathering the intelligence would miss.

    And IMHO, paranoia about employees "stealing" information should not stand in the way of increasing the efficiency of intelligence gathering and analysis.

  • by Eevee ( 535658 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @10:48AM (#28335205)
    Technically precise and totally misses the point. It's not that they can't lock down the information, but rather they want it easily available to everyone on the classified network.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 15, 2009 @10:49AM (#28335221)

    It sounds like there's no way around their need for fine grained access control.

    What would probably help would be to set it up so that if you were trying to edit an entry related to a topic and someone else already has their own version to give you a message saying "Another user already has an entry on this topic. Would you like to send a request to compare notes?"

    Although I guess having the ability to check if something is in the namespace might be exploitable.

    Maybe what they really need is Intellitwitter. You transmit the name of whoever you're investigating and other people who are following that name get pinged with a request to compare notes. Plus you might be able to get some social network analysis out of it. You could see when a certain name keeps coming up and that might be important. Or maybe two names are repeatedly used together.

    Of course all of this should be caveated with my opinion that any system needs to include deep safeguards against abuse. That should be a primary concern of any design.

  • by Absolut187 ( 816431 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @10:54AM (#28335281) Homepage

    Get off the fence and start sharing.

    A lack of sharing is pretty clearly responsible for the success of the attacks on 9/11.

    Sure, old habits are hard to break. But when you watch thousands of people die because of your agency's failure, that should probably do the trick.

    And if it didn't, you need to GTFO and find another line of work.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @12:05PM (#28336305)

    No, it's two different wiki pages in two different classified networks ... it's a website on a network.

    Which is it? Different websites on different networks or a website on a network?

    If its the former, then what's the improvement and why the reported worry that the first question from "everyone" is how do they control access?

  • Its not simply FUD. Increased efficiency for data retrieval rubs both ways. If its easier to get data out of the system for the good guy, its easy to get data out of the system for the turn coat.

    Yes, its probably a great idea to make a lot of intelligence data easier to access in general, and I'll assume the system fully logs all dat accesses and makes note of unnecessary information retrievals.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein