Pentagon turns to blogs and wikis

The US Department of Defence's lead intelligence agency is using wikis, blogs, RSS feeds and enterprise "mashups" to help its analysts collaborate better.

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The US Department of Defence's lead intelligence agency is using wikis, blogs, RSS feeds and enterprise "mashups" to help its analysts collaborate better.

Lewis Shepherd, chief of the requirements and research group at the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) said use of the Web 2.0 technologies, which are becoming critical to accomplishing missions that require intelligence sharing among analysts, was "mushrooming".

The tools were helping DIA analysts collaborate when they sift through the data used to support military operations, meeting 9/11 Commission’s directives to "improve and deepen our collaborative work processes," he said.

The DIA first launched a wiki dubbed Intellipedia in 2004 on the department's Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS), a top-secret network that links all the US government's intelligence agencies.

"The collaboration potential of the social software side is really being thoroughly vetted and is now rapidly being adopted," Shepherd said. "Across agencies, wikis and blogs are becoming as ubiquitous as e-mail in terms of information sharing."

Although the agency's mission of providing intelligence to support military planning and weapons acquisition could easily fit into any spy novel or Hollywood blockbuster, Shepherd said DIA's analysts are similar to workers in other industries in that "they rely upon and demand instant gratification" for their information needs.

"One of the virtues of a wiki format is that there is a blurred line between authoring and dissemination," he added. "The second something is authored, someone else can edit it [while others can] comment upon those edits."

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