The Information: Part II.

This discussion here began with a dinner table for strangers, individuals with various ethnic backgrounds and lines of work, different native languages and personal and professional perspectives on culture, politics, and the ways of the world. Around a table at which they each chose themselves to sit, they found for themselves a community of others from whom to garner empathy, understand things that perhaps they had not before, and understand one another in a manner that perhaps would not have before been available to explore, all because they came to a place where that conversation could be passively and securely facilitated.

Many kinds of information about the world we do not yet know, a near infinite well of new problems will there likely always be to solve, but I will contend here that there may be much that we have determined that we do not know, but that we do in fact already know, and this discrepancy mostly owes to the reality that the channels on which we discover such hidden information are not immediately obvious to query or available to us in concert with the collected cache of information deemed as relevant to the task at hand. If at the end of the intelligence cycle we are still consistently finding ourselves in an executive conundrum bound by a binary type option, then we have to reevaluate the method by which we came to this end result.

 The academic pursuit of basic research is both noble and necessary — without a foundational understanding of the ways of the world, we are without the ability to pose further inquiries, increase the capacity of conceptual bases, build models and make applications. Nonetheless, much of this knowledge is banked in silos. Generally speaking, information is not by and large restricted, yet its availability is limited to those who search for it specifically or to those who are granted access to it (i.e., by gift or by subscription). Ziyad Marar, Global Publishing Director for SAGE, lamented in a 2016 article for that inter-disciplinary studies are inherently hard to do well for both institutionalized and personal practices, but the emergence of big data and the different perspectives and expertise required to analyze it all is in small ways proving to erode the departmental barriers. And yet, academics are notoriously protective of the data that they collect and interpret, and thus these two information obstacles combined (architected restriction and individual protection) result in another kind of blockade that further demonstrates that unless there is an immediate and comprehensive benefit to inquiring of knowledge bases and praxes from other disciplines, no one will look elsewhere for answers to questions sought.

 The character of this problem persists throughout public and private industrial sectors — the practice of sharing information, though increasingly necessary, is itself still relatively new and wrought with complications that manifest similarly across endeavors. Examples abound: medical records are notoriously difficult to merge and process owing to differences amongst and between use platforms and applications — within medical establishments, nonetheless, not just across them (this is largely a system-of-systems architecture problem that both industry and government is summarily band-aiding and not solving); medical protocols and procedures can be difficult to standardize and practice if they require teaming between different disciplines of experts — both because these professionals often speak in different terms and because they are often separated into different physical locations across the hospital or clinic (collaborative effort is not incentivized here, regardless of the overall benefit to the well being of the patients in treatment); government agencies hire consultants with expertise in intra and inter-agency coordination because they are often individually inept at performing these tasks in-house, and moreover, the scopes of interest and missions of each agency inherently bias the manner of the information collected, such that once it is analyzed under given pretenses and conditions, it is in a sense already contaminated before it even reaches the next agency and another subset of queries. These sharing and coordinating tasks are immensely difficult within given domestic agencies and organizations, and prove to be even more so when extended to those internationally bound, and this particular caveat has serious implications for defensive strategies in motion on the battlefield. If the goal of our defense research is to prevent strategic surprise, we have an obligation to facilitate and coordinate a communicative effort across our various individual working factions, to assess if their deliverables not only align with the mission statement of intention, but if they also demonstrate completeness in the specificity of the states they describe in order to ultimately provide our executive decision makers with valuable and varied options.

TBC, Part III.

Clementina RussoComment