A Different Sort of "Open Source"


In the Online Journalism Review, Charles Cameron explores the idea of open-source intelligence.

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  1. This is a wonderful post, Jesse. Thanks.

  2. I’m waiting for an article (Reason would be a natural fit to write it) comparing the open source/Windows paradigm for secure computing to open/secretive government. The government seems to take the Microsoft approach of “if we squelch any info about a security hole, maybe no one will ever know about it,” as opposed to the Open Source approach: that the more eyeballs that are scrutinizing, the faster holes are seen and they get fixed fast because they have to be- after all, if everybody, including the bad guys, know about it, then we better get it done pronto! The result is many orders of magnitude better security.

    I think this is persuasive for more open government as it’s pretty conclusive after more than 10 years of competition in a cut-throat marketplace (where survival-of-the-fittest evolution happens at an extremely accelerated pace; I think it’s fair to say that 10 years in the computing business equals 200 human years) which model gives us more security.

    As for user-friendliness, well, maybe that’s a different article.

  3. Go to “Global Security” and see it at work. I don’t think you’ll like it though… ‘cuz John Pike supported the Iraq War and posted “WMD sites” on his boards too…

  4. If you go to this site, you can watch a short clip of Rep. Rob Simmons (R – CT) discussing open-source intelligence. Very informative.

    You’ll just have to ignore Katherine Harris (yep, that Katherine Harris) crawl all up on Rep. Rick Renzi (R – AZ) behind Rep. Simmons.

  5. In support of “open source intelligence,” I can cite my father, a retired professor with internet access, who informed me authoritatively before the US invasion of Iraq that the search teams would find precisely nothing. He’s nobody’s fool and has been doing research all his life. So even if the decision makers had access to “secret information,” apparently they were either too monumentally stupid to interpret it properly or the secret information was of less use than what was available openly to old duffers with a lot of time on their hands.

    And this, perhaps, is a feature of security classification: that classified information, however slight or unreliable, is valued more highly than the unclassified information, simply because it has the cachet of secrecy. The analysis is skewed by a classification process that creates prejudice in the minds of the analysts.

    Journalists are rarely primary sources in the stories they write. They assemble a story out of things that people tell them, studies they have heard about, statistics they find online. In effect, they are analysts and not actual gatherers of information. Most of them, writing for a general public, are rather racy and poorly prepared to analyze the information they receive, because their primary training is in writing, not forensics.

  6. Loose lips sink ships.

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