What other types of new technology, especially "web 2.0" tools, do you find valuable? I'm thinking of tools like technorati, del.icoi.us and Linkedin and custom RSS feeds. I suppose you could include the whole pantheon of Google apps in there as well. You might also include high end tools like what Anderson Analytics offers.
I'm interested in hearing how other people have adapted some of these great gadgets for CI purposes.
Technology in CI? Where to begin! We are starting to use internal blogs and wikis, and I have absolutely fallen in love with the wiki concept in general. It's such a fantastic mechanism for collaboration and keeping information up-to-date. Listen to CI Podcast episode 21 to hear two recent Mercyhurst grads talk about their involvement in a wiki pilot for ODNIA: http://www.cipodcast.com/
I've been using RSS for several years now, and I am still curious as to why more CI folks aren't making use of that technology. I'll be presenting on RSS at the Chicago SCIP chapter in June.
I use del.icio.us quite a lot. I'm 8of12 on del.icio.us if anybody wants to follow me. I've been tagging a lot of CI, telecoms, and Web 2.0 materials. This is a fantastic, easy to use tool that is often overlooked.
LinkedIn is a great source to identify primary interview targets. Competitive Intelligence Podcast episode 20 is an interview with Roger Phelps that goes into some detail about how he goes about identifying primary interview targets using LinkedIn: http://www.cipodcast.com/
When I was at Evidence Based Research we developed a great set of open source text analysis platforms. Using web harvesting and screen scraping we would harvest hundreds of text sources from the web, PDFs, Word files, etc. and create structured intelligence relational databases based on those sources. We used APIs to incorporate that data into link visualization and statistical analysis tools. It was great stuff, though the IT overhead was too high for any but the largest, highly-funded intelligence organizations to make use of that. As IT evolves those costs will come down and applications such as that will become more commonplace.
I do use Google Reader, though my preference is for the Newsgator client on the Macintosh. The downside to a client-side reader is that you can generally only use it on one machine. Also, sadly, most companies (Verizon among them) use Windows machines. I like Newsgator because it lets me create smart watch lists; I have thousands of feeds that I read, and the smart lists pull out articles relevant to my company, competitors and general topics of interest.
I'm interested to hear what your tricks are using Google Reader's sharing function. I've yet to make use of that functionality.
Right now, the Big G lets you both share and tag (like del.icio.us and technorati), and anyone who is your "friend" can view these with the shared items appearing in an RSS feed with your name. I think - but I'm not sure - that you'd have to have a separate log in to generate a specific list of friends (e.g., for a project).
On the plus side, I really like google's reader's search and suggestion functionality; it's found several of my "new favorite" blogs for me. On the downside, their grouping and sorting functionality is sorely lacking compared to client-side readers like the one you use.
I wonder if google tools has a different solution for this?
I do not use the Reader's share function itself, rather I've set up a Reader for a technology team to use. The entire team shares the password, they can all add to it. I've set up a fairly simple folder list, keeping it rather broad within our area of interest. My goal was to ease this particular group into the RSS world, but if nothing else, get everybody exposed to the same body of material. The Reader accumulates material, and we can search it. Everyone on the team knows that everyone else has access to it.
There are technology junkies, and there are news junkies. I'm the news junkie. The Reader, for us, facilitates making sure that everyone has access to the same information.
You would have enjoyed the joint SCIP / World Future Society that August and I put on in January here in Washington DC. It was a panel discussion with August, myself and Sean Dennehy from CIA on the use of Web 2.0 collaboration in intellgence analysis. We had over 50 colleagues there, and it was far and away the best meeting of the year. People are dying to talk about how to create a culture of collaboration, and Web 2.0 seems the best way to do it. Intellipedia is changing military intelligence every day, and I know the commercial side is keeping pace.
What really sold it though was the notion that wikis cut email down by 75%. People were SOLD!
KM - actually, there is a beta version of a wiki available on Ning that I'm looking into jiggering up - one version of which is called Pages - I should have it turned on here shortly. I've spoken to Craig Fleisher about using the CI bibliographies he co-wrote a couple of years back as source materials for a kind of reference wiki around CI literature and that'd be a first potential application, but there are infinite others. If Pages doesn't work, maybe OpenSocial has a gadget or mashup we could apply?
It's worth considering the concept of a community wiki to begin to build some community consensus around some best practices in the most common CI products and analytical frameworks. This could also be used to help define what constitutes the core CI competencies and skills that would be the basis for any sort of certification such as that being considered by SCIP.
I would argue that there is a small set of things every person who calls himself or herself a CI professional should understand, know how to execute and deliver. I think our community needs to move further in this direction in order for our value to be more widely recognized. For the CI practitioners like myself inside a firm we would be able to point to ROI to justify our existence. For the consultant or vendor they could contract with customers confident that some minimum level of quality will be delivered. We will all benefit from a broader set of realistic expectations among our business customers. These expectations would extend to ethics, what is generally possible through CI and how customers use the analytical product. We all benefit.