Just what exactly is the CIA doing with US tax-dollars? Talking to citizens who want to help the US “war against terror”? Assisting families who are losing soldiers in Iraq at a steadily increasing rate (yes, occupation comes with a welcome high price.)
For the past two days, I and several esteemed colleagues participated in a CIA workshop on blogs and Wikis, organized by MarkOehlert at BoozAllenHamilton. The intention was for people within the CIA to learn more about blogs and Wikis from us, but the learning was decidedly bidirectional. We got a glimpse of how the intelligence community works, and we got a chance to further guide the CIA’s thinking on how to improve the way it collaborates, both internally and with others.
I spent both days listening closely for patterns of effective collaboration. Given my previous experience with government work, I wasn’t optimistic. These folks surprised me. There were certainly horror stories, but they weren’t significantly worse than stories I have heard and experienced in other organizations. More importantly, there is a small group of vocal, committed champions who believe strongly in how some of these tools can improve the way the organization works and who are actively trying to make this happen.
It all sounds so benign and cuddly. Perhaps they talked about the CIA’s methods of torture and the ways in which this liberating method of interrogation could be proudly displayed on the web.