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Intelligence (the great game) is purportedly the second oldest profession in the world, being known and employed by the Chinese around 3000 BCE.

This site is about “the great game”, and the six dimensions used in understanding and defining what is, or might, happen in the world.

History:

The doyen of modern intelligence was Sir Francis Walsingham (circa 1530 – 1590), who was Joint Secretary of State and Spy-master to Queen Elizabeth I of England.  Many of the principles that he laid down are still applicable today.

Attributed quotes:

  • Knowledge is never too dear.
  • See and keep silent.
  • There is less danger in fearing too much than too little.
  • There is nothing more dangerous than perceived security.

Walsingham was concerned with two things: The detection and elimination of political plots against the Queen; and keeping the Queen and her Ministers informed of the political activities and intentions of foreign nation states.

Today:

Not much has changed over the last four hundred years! The intelligence services remain concerned with the security of the state, including the threat of terrorism, and they closely monitor the political relationships between foreign nation states.

The modern study of the interactions between nation states, and the global forces acting upon them, is known as “geopolitics”. It is primarily the purview of governments and academia, although there are commercial organisations, worldwide, who provide geopolitical intelligence, analysis, and advice to business and non-government organisations.

But Intelligence is more than geopolitics. It is more than interactions between nation states. It is also about those factors that impact upon public awareness and perceptions and the way people live their lives and participate in society, and how people interact with others by way of business and trade, both locally and internationally.

Intelligence is therefore just as concerned with psychology and sociology as it is with politics and geography. These factors include the news media (in all of its political hues), social media, blogs, promotions, entertainment, sport, and so on.

Intelligence must also be concerned with the often subtle differences between public relations and propaganda; documentary and drama; advertising and subliminal conditioning, et cetera.

The internet has changed the game entirely.

For the first time in history, the average person in the street takes on a level of importance never before seen. The nation state can no longer act as the sole surrogate for its citizens. The politicians can no longer speak entirely on behalf of the population.

The internet gives anybody with the means of access an equal voice, and within the hubbub of all the internet chatter, ideas organically emerge and take on a life of their own through the wisdom of crowds.[1]

To be effective, the wisdom of crowds needs to meet four criteria. Loosely these are:

  1. Members of the crowd must have access to diverse sources of information;
  2. Members must be independent of each other and be geographically spread;
  3. Members of the crowd must have no formal structure, and especially no leader;
  4. There must be a way of summarising the different opinions and forming a collective view.

The internet provides the means to meet all of these criteria, as never before.

As such, the internet is a threat. Not to society, but to those people who seek to control society by one means or another.

The traditional tools of control: Education; “Information”; Finance; et cetera, are much less effective in the presence of the internet.

With a relatively cheap multi-touch device, a person with access to the internet can find authoritative opinion on any subject and thereby educate themselves in whatever way they wish unconstrained by a pre-ordained syllabus or pre-approved teaching material.

Similarly, articles in local newspapers can be compared with foreign newspapers to get a balanced view, both locally and across international boundaries and cultures. And this can be done for little or no expense other than time, so the age-old practice of selective financing or sponsorship no longer has any influence on where people place their efforts.

Those who seek to control society have been slow to realise the power of the internet as a medium for intellectual discourse and in forming societal opinion, but have rather viewed it as “yet another communications channel” or as “yet another entertainment medium”, to be treated in much the same way as television and radio.

With the release of dubious emails from the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, in late 2009, and the subsequent in-depth intellectual analysis of the contents; and with the debacle of the Copenhagen UN conference (two events that may not actually have been interrelated), those who seek to control society started to realise that they have underestimated the power of the internet.

Future:

The internet is now seen as being an integral and significant part of society in those economies that can afford access to the infrastructure. As such, those who would seek to control society, will also seek the means to control the internet, overtly to protect society from the evils that may lurk there, but covertly so they can continue to control the message and the information that the population is required to know.

Thus, “the great game” takes an unexpected turn.

What does an intelligence practitioner do, when the nation state turns against its own population? Who guards the guards?

There are six dimensions that define the dynamics of human activity on this planet. This blog is about the interactions between those dimensions.

Rereke Whakaaro, 5 April 2010.

Footnotes:
1. “The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few”, James Surowiecki, 2005.

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