In the field

  • Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn's Fixing Intel, a report—and directive—on how to reform military intelligence efforts in Afghanistan
  • Atul  Gawande's musings on how a government health care extension service, inspired by the USDA's extension system, could help improve health care and control costs
  • Also in the New Yorker, Fen Montaigne wrote about warming in Antartica, the threat it poses to Adélie penguins, and Dr. Bill Fraser, 58, an ecologist who has devoted his life to field surveys of Antartica
Sensors, analytics, streaming, and visualization are hot topics these days. The naïve model for how the world will work in the future is that instruments will capture data and stream it to data centers. Some of it will be filtered out; the rest will be stored and crunched repeatedly (at great energy cost) in vast data centers. Data mining algorithms will pick out the interesting bits, make a nice pie chart on your screen and those of your fellow REMFs, and advise you to buy 1,000 shares of Acme Corp so you can profit from the trend (never mind that if information is so cheap to come by, arbitrage will be obsolete), and you can go back to watching Lost. It'll be like 1999, when we all had internet businesses that idly filled our bank accounts while we sat on our patios on Tahoe and sipped Chardonnay. 4 Hour Workweek, here we come!

Realistically, the centralized model will result in yet another warehouse. If there is any value to be had in collecting all this data, it will only be in forwarding it to those few in the field who are doing the real work, who already know the truth intuitively but need data for winning arguments, and providing them with the tools to analyze the data and find collaborators.

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