Recorded Future held their annual user network conference in DC 16 Oct 2012. This post is the first of a two part debrief on the event:
On The Ambiance: The event was packed. Standing room only. And it was packed with the right kinds of people. Government and Industry thought leaders, analysts and data scientists with real world responsibilities came together for a day of fast-paced sharing and interactions. It would be impossible to give justice to the many sidebar conversations: but they were all meaty and interesting since frequently the conversations were between people serving vastly different missions but sharing common needs for more insight on the world around them. This makes sharing of lessons learned, models and concepts of operation fun and mutually beneficial. And if you have an event that is both fun and mutually beneficial you have a recipe for an enduring community. So there is something magic happening here.
On The Content:
Recorded Future CEO and Co-Founder Dr. Christopher Ahlberg provided a great scene-setting opener to the discussion by characterizing the need for enhanced analytical capabilities and also articulating both a vision and a roadmap for Recorded Future in helping the community meet its needs. For historical context, Chris provided an interesting/compelling graphic that I think I need to reproduce for my own use. He called it the “Mural of Surprise.” It used photos from events we all know of, from Pearl Harbor to Sputnik to the fall of the Berlin Wall to the horrible surprise attacks of 911 and the continuing economic and cultural surprises sweeping the globe today. It makes a clear point that we all have to expect surprise, it will always be with us. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek better insights into the future to mitigate surprise when it does come. And when we are surprised by events that should have been predicted that is just bad.
Chris has long helped the community understand the new capabilities for analysis that the web is providing, including its ability to help organizations not just know themselves better, but to know their environment and their entire global ecosystem. The web enabled shift from introspection to more extrospection is happening at a time when temporal indexing of the web is providing a foundation for advanced technologies to bring the power of extrospection to bear for analysts. The result, a technology enabled shift. Shifts are underway in multiple areas, from small datasets to large datasets, from structured data to unstructured data, and from too much reliance on only your own data to a better leveraging of the internet. Combine this with the potential coming about from better algorithms, faster processors, larger/faster storage, more powerful web harvesting, and much smarter linguistics and entirely new possibilities are available to us. RecordedFuture has the platform to help the community leverage these new capabilities for enhanced support to decision-makers.
Chris also discussed user interfaces and the importance of interactivity and feedback beween analysts and consumers of information. Chris’s research had led him to a great historical memo providing recommendations on how to better present information to Dr. Kissenger in the 1970 White House that described with incredible vision what an interactive presentation of information should look like in the national security space. That memo is important enough to warrant its own discussion and I will provide more on that in a coming post (turns out the author of that memo is the OSD Director of Net Assessment, Dr. Andy Marshall).
The two big take-aways from Chris’s presentation: 1) Recorded Future provides intelligence signals that create decision advantage, and 2) their ultimate product is a better decision, brought about by informative intelligence content on decision maker’s devices.
[This was the first of a two part post on the Recorded Future User Network Conference. ]