From Amazon’s customer reviews
Too Big To Know - the subtitle :
"Rethinking knowledge now that the facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room."
This is the final nail in the coffin of secret intelligence communities and companies devoted to proprietary software. There is nothing intelligent, nor substantively valuable, about “closed” environments if ones purpose is to optimize both the allocation of resources and outcomes beneficial to the public.
The historical context:
Many people have been focused on the changing role of knowledge coming into the 21st century … . . this book says it best, in a form that is easy to grasp for non-digital leaders struggling to decide where to go next … . this book is highly relevant to the 1950’s mind-set that is still prevalent among the leadership of all eight tribes of intelligence:
- civil society
- law enforcement
- non-governmental / non-profit
Summarizing the book:
Everything we do now with hierarchical organization, hoarded information, restricted accesses, and isolation from the full range of external sources and methods, is wrong for the spirit of our times, wrong for our network-effect based zeitgeist!
Five recommendations the author discusses:
- Open up access
- Provide the hooks for intelligence (meta-data)
- Link everything
- Leave no institutional knowledge behind
- Teach everyone
Strong provocative message at 4 levels
"The more one looks at the question, the clearer it becomes that we don’t have an agreed-upon explanatory [or even exploratory] framework within which the question might be resolved." [page 114]
It is not about what you know or even who you know, but about the network you create so as to be able to access the right relevant knowledge when you need it, in the form you need it.
Centralized authority rots — decentralized authority not only has the agility to be effective in situ, but decentralized authority is also much more likely to “see” and integrate local knowledge.
Citing Clay Sharky, "It’s not information overload. It is filter failure."
Knowing by the use of closed systems for reducing / filtering / weighting is out of date. Effective modern knowledge systems are linked / inclusive / open.
Today’s networked knowledge
is directly antithetical to every possible attribute of the top-down, “because I say so”, authoritarian, hierarchies Epoch. When even the Harvard Business Review acknowledges that CEO’s not only don’t know what they need to know to make good decisions, but are also not able to to make those decisions by themselves, the times, they are a’changing.
Old knowledge focused on FACTS.
Intermediate knowledge has focused on CONTEXT.
New knowledge is focused on RELATIONSHIPS.
The 21st century institution, like the 21st century network, must be very wide, boundary free, populist, respect those who are credentialed by the network rather than than credentialed by diplomas.
The 21st century institution, like the 21st century network, must be comfortable with a constantly changing “unsettled” landscape of culture, history, and local knowledge.
In all of this, TRUST is what determines the successful collection, processing, analysis, and decision-support rendering of information into intelligence. I speak here of informed trust, not blind trust… . . trust-building networks rather than a lock-box.
The author points out that in the absence of a properly designed network, the massive amounts of information that are accessible, and the new ability of every nut-case on the planet to be “co-equal” to more measured professionals, makes it very easy for even the most well-intentioned researcher to go off the deep end. In other words, not only must we have the world’s best OPEN networks at our finger-tips, we ALSO must have a profoundly professional combination of automatic, social, and professional filters and ingestion / visualization capabilities.
The author distinguishes between 3 types of facts:
- classic facts (in isolation)
- databased facts (indexed in a fixed structural context)
- networked facts (organically integrated/evolving facts which may have many different contexts, visible to different sets of people, and useful in different sorts of ways.
The author speaks to the “network effects” on science:
[my interpretation is that one has to do whole-systems and real-time science now, the era of knowing everything about nothing that has characterized academia is now over — the PhD’s of the future will be constuctive constructionists, not destructive deconstructionists.]
- Science is flatter
One no longer needs to spend 8-16 years as an intellectual serf. To this I would add that science is now also real-time (that is to say, serious science versus show science). Changes to the earth that used to take ten thousand years now take three. Both science and politics are so removed from current reality and from an integrated public perspective as to be very dangerous to the human species.
- Network is continuously public
This is the part the secret world has difficulty with. They obsess on secret sources and methods as inputs, when all this time they should have been adapting to the prospect of being able to provide continuous decision-support to a full range of customers, in the process creating a Smart Nation. Instead they have a secret black hole.
- Open filters
Buy the book!
- Science with a difference
Cybernetics is now going in this direction, and we may be on the verge of a multi-disciplinary and humanities break-out in which the academic and government paradigms for thinking and studying experience an order of magnitude topsy-turvy “do the right thing, not the wrong thing righter.” This is a great time to be an intelligence professional. Buy the book!
- Hyper-linked science
Science and the humanities today are a travesty. I just ripped apart some psycho-babble about “Intelligent Management of Intelligence Agencies” at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, and I am still irritated. If we do not get serious about creating the World Brain and Global Game(Noosphere) as the Earth Intelligence Network has conceptualized the immediate possibilities, governments and corporations are going to continue a path that is tantamount to mass suicide for the human species.
Primary leadership responsibilities:
- connecting to reality
- make hard choices
Primary leadership roles
- pick smart people that are self-starters
- creating and nurturing the OPEN networks that allows those self-starters to be all they can be
- be the catalyst for integrating diversity with clarity and integrity
read Robert Steele’s article:
The Craft of Intelligence – OLD vs. NEW
Check out Robert Steele’s up coming new book
The Open-Source Everything Manifesto:
Transparency, Truth, and Trust
"The solution to the information overload problem is to create more metadata!"
"metadata is what you already know and data is what you’re trying to find out" (Weinberger, 2007, p.104)
in what seems a disruptive argument, Weinberger tells that too much information is actually a good thing… . he cites Clay Shirky, who argues that “it is not information overload. It is filter failure”
Weinberger contrasts the long-form argument of the Age of Books with the loosely connected webs of the Age of Networks in which he argues, the long form argument is a constraint inherited from the medium of print. Our thought process, nonetheless, works not in a simplistic, linear and long form ways but in an intricate web of links and associations which is better reflected in the Age of Networks. Scientists work in private in the Age of Books, after-the-fact peer-review is the norm, but in the Age of Networks, he argues, the filtering process is immediate, open and on the cloud. In short, he argues the abundance of crap and good that is generated through the network gets filtered by the network itself.