The Great Game- How social media changes the Intelligence Industry

Since time immemorial, countries and corporations have used spies to displace existing equilibriums in balance of power or market share dynamics. An integral part of that was technology. From the pox infested rugs given to natives, to the plague rats, to the smuggling of the secret of silk and gunpowder from China to the West to the latest research in cloud seeding by China and Glaciars melting by India- technology espionage has been an integral part in keeping up with each other.

For the first time in history, technology has evolved to the point where tools for communicating securely , storing data has become cheap to the point of just having a small iPhone 3GS with applications for secure transmission. From an analytical purpose the need for analyzing signal from noise and the criticality in mapping chatter with events (like Major Hasan’s online activities)  has also created an opportunity for social media as well as an headache for the people involved. With Citizen Journalism, foreign relations office, and ambassadors with their bully pulpits have been brought down to defending news leaked by Twitter ( Iran) You Tube ( Thailand/Burma/Tibet) and Blogs ( Russia/Georgia). The rise of bot nets, dark clouds to create disruptions as well as hack into accounts for enhancing favourable noise and reducing unfavourable signals has only increased. Blogs have potential to influence customer behavior as they are seen more credible than public relations which is mostly public and rarely on relations.

Techniques like sentiment analysis , social network analysis, text mining and co relation of keywords to triggers remain active research points.

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The United States remains a leader as you can only think creatively out of a box if you are permitted to behave accordingly out of the box. The remaining countries are torn between a  mix of admiration , envy and plain old copy cat techniques. The rising importance of communities that act more tribal than hitherto loyal technology user lists is the reason almost all major corporates actively seek to cultivate social media communities. The market for blogs and twitter in China or Iran or Russia will have impacts on those government’s efforts to manage their growth as per their national strategic interests. Just like the title of an old and quaint novel- “The Brave New World” of social media and it’s convergence with increasing amounts of text data generated on customers, or citizens is evolving into creating new boundaries and space for itself.A fascinating Great Game in itself.

Author: Ajay Ohri

http://about.me/ajayohri

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