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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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  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @10:34AM (#28335027) Journal
    Wait a minute... They're describing wikis as Web 2.0? There was a video, an old black and white clip [google.ca] of a talk some guy was doing regarding some new fangled invention called the network. In it he described a bunch of people collaborating on creating a document, including linking to other documents.
  • by jimbolauski ( 882977 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @10:38AM (#28335073) Journal
    The way that much of the info is protected is that networked computers containing classified info are encripted which makes hacking them usless, also USB ports are disabled along with all other writing devices. I'm by no means saying that it would be 100% secure but you will always give up security once you start adding users.
  • IAAIU (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 15, 2009 @10:52AM (#28335257)

    IAAIU - I Am An Intellipedia User.

    It's not connected to the Internet, and it handles compartmentalized information quite well, thanks. It's actually been quite incredible watching it "grow up" over the past few years. It's also not plagued by the problems that most people associate with Wikis - astroturfing, self-made experts, anonymous contributions - and sure, you will have people with special "pet" pages, it is because they are, in fact, the acknowledged expert and have a vested interest in making sure that the information on the page is as correct as possible.

    Imagine Wikipedia made entirely of subject matter experts who have verified credentials and identities. Yeah. It's rad.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 15, 2009 @10:55AM (#28335285)

    CIA is about the last agency I'd suspect of trying this. I use Intellipedia at work

    That's interesting. You apparently had no idea that CIA started, funded, and makes far more edits than any other intelligence organization? Maybe you should know a little more about the tools you use before spouting ridiculous comments.

    People like you were one of the prime reasons I left intelligence. It was so damn tribal. You ever try taking a look at what agencies make the most changes to wikipedia--take a look at the specific updates by a couple agencies in specific (defense, satellites mostly). Those two like to complain about cia the most, yet when you look at what content they upload, a very large percentage is just old intranet homepages ported over to a wiki...same stovepipe, same protection of data, etc. Of course the easiest thing to do is not work on IMPROVING analysis and IMPROVING data collection, but to bitch about other government employees.

    Additionally, it's all great for the people who spend all day hanging out in the jabber talk channels to brag about number of edits, etc, but why don't you share what percentage of edits are done to users' homepages? How many hours spent designing new badges and updating their homepage pictures. (A certain people mentioned the in summary above are infamous in the for how much time he spends updating his personal page, and uploading new pictures and articles about himself).

    Need to know is about compartmentalization and saving lives, not about an inter-agency pissing match.

  • by Moridineas ( 213502 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @11:11AM (#28335463) Journal

    See, that's the exact type of comment I'm talking about...you admit you didn't have a clue about how Intellipedia works or who has provided the most information to it, and then you go on a rant about CIA. I'm guessing you're defense from the words you use, because I've heard it all a thousand times before. Maybe time for some introspection in ALL parties of the IC. These kinds of pissing matches are riduclous and quite frankly DANGEROUS to national security and a waste of taxpayer money.

    "CIA reputation in the IC" ... "they demand" ... "absolute worst" ... "not a single positive comment"

    I absolutely stand by my tribal statement and I think you back it up pretty damn well. There's always a lot of jealousy, anger, and pettiness out there, and it frankly got unbearable. You just keep going propagating stories about how horrible CIA is and how everybody hates them (let me guess--you've worked in intel 1-3 years tops?) and then give yourself a big pat on the back for how you're improving work relations between IC agencies by hanging out on a chat channel and editing your intellipedia userpage.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @11:12AM (#28335479)

    It's classified information on classified networks. We've been doing this for ages,

    Sounds like it is classified information from many different programs on a single classified network, in a single database. We definitely have not been doing THAT for years.

    Even if you want to sneaker-net information from one program's classified network to another program's classified network it requires a bunch of "security logistics." You might get lucky and after a year or two get all the security officers involved to come up with a plan to connect the networks of a handful of programs, as long as there was still significant access control (like no cross-program accounts without need to know vetting and specific inter-connect points with limited functionality - like file-drops but no end-to-end tcp/ip).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 15, 2009 @11:14AM (#28335507)
    Wise words. I'll be sure tell my GS-15 and SES bosses to start sharing or GTFO. ...It's the leaders and middle management that are on the fence, not the majority of the workforce.
  • by nobodylocalhost ( 1343981 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @11:30AM (#28335741)

    Sort of. IMHO it does provide a good deal of service. Although the information is locked down, you still have the link relations, further more, you can find out who has which piece of information. Requesting for that information shouldn't be too hard. That's the whole advantage wiki provides the intelligence community. You can link different pieces of information and find relationships between them. So in the old school way, you don't really know who has what, so you run around and ask until you find out. Using wiki, you can follow a chain of leads via links until you hit a stop, then you send an e-mail, get access, and move on. I think "need to know" is a tried and true method as when ever there are leaks in the intelligence community people tend to end up in prison or disappear. ACL provides the perfect balance between "need to know" and "need to share"

  • by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @12:00PM (#28336215)
    I've worked in the IC for 12 years now, and have worked directly with the CIA more than once. I've seen their stove-piping firsthand and had to deal with their demands and their refusal to share what we needed for crucial operations. I was the one giving info we had to them, and they were the ones being tribal and not sharing just for the sake of not sharing. When asked a question, these clowns would all look at each other, one would shake their head, then they would say No, they didn't have anything, when it was obvious they did and obvious we had a need to know. And this is not uncommon behavior from them. I'd love to share more war stories, but I'm kind of limited on what I can say here.

    then give yourself a big pat on the back for how you're improving work relations between IC agencies by hanging out on a chat channel and editing your intellipedia userpage

    OK, troll, I never said anything about a chat channel or what if anything I personally edit. Read my posts. Or better yet, get the aforementioned clue.

  • by Moridineas ( 213502 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @12:23PM (#28336551) Journal

    Like I said the IC needs some major introspection in ALL of its part. I quite frankly find your very obvious anger and loathing very unfortunate. When you go around trashing your fellow-IC mates, I absolutely do have a problem with that. Like I said--I quit, I didn't like the job and I didn't like the tribalism. I've never once claimed CIA is perfect on anything...far from it. The sorry bottom line is this...how many people work in the IC? I think that's technically classified and I don't really know, but let's say 100k+ for the hell of it. Some people are going to get shafted. You can't have that many people all happy and all having equal input. IMHO there's far too much duplication of effort, and my solution would be to fire the majority of people.

    I know your organization always feels shafted, and maybe it shouldn't be--I know. When I talk about tribalism, it DOES go both ways, because your org has a certain reputation as well (if you're where I'm guessing you are). I actually have several friends who started at your place several years after I started my job...would you believe that things on a personal level got strained after they started? It's that fucking ludicrous.

    I can tell you one thing, and I'm absolutely serious about this. If you really want to be part of changing things, maybe you should stop being so partisan about your organization and so slanderous of cia. Who cares if you have valid points, it's utterly unprofessional and does nothing but REINFORCE tribalism on both sides. You can help take one of the first steps by not being an ass to people with the same job as you, regardless of how they act...

    OK, troll, I never said anything about a chat channel or what if anything I personally edit. Read my posts. Or better yet, get the aforementioned clue.

    So you're saying you DON'T use jabber chat and DON'T edit your iped userpage?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 15, 2009 @02:32PM (#28338231)

    My experience with Intellipedia is just a way to expose information about specific programs across multiple agencies, without too many program details. This is different than pages always being about specific places or specific people, this is about detailing various goings on in various compartamentalized environments.

    There are always people within the various organizations and agencies that work on almost the exact same thing... but have no idea that they work on the exact same thing. Hell, there are people within the same organization that do not know that they work on the same stuff as the people sitting in the cubicles one floor down. It's a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. Even if some pages are imported powerpoints to wiki pages, the exposure they get increases exponentially.

    So, (again, my experience) Intellipedia has turned into a few agencies political tool, a way to expose programs and projects across the IC. Get exposure to your project, get other people using the tools you develop by posting the type of tools and the type of data that you work on (which in some cases is what is classified) into a searchable, central location like Intellipedia and you have increased the efficiency and know-how of all sorts of people across various programs. The beginnings of this are projects that are about to get the axe, edit their information about things they currently do not support, capabilities they do not provide and are basically marketing information for officers/decision makers to not curtail that program's budget. This is the bad part of the politics, but with the way things are going people are doing all sorts of things to keep their pet projects going.

All laws are simulations of reality. -- John C. Lilly