The Army, the Web, and the Case for Intentional Emergence


Lt. Gen. Sorenson gave a Higher Order Bit talk at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco back in November. I didn't make it to the Summit this year but I'm glad I got to see the video. 

I'm glad General Sorenson is thinking about how the Army's systems and methods can be improved with Web 2.0 ideas and technologies but I wish the Army would really go after the really fundamental benefit of the Web, the fact that it is a platform that supports emergence. It's not just about the specific technologies, it's about the ecosystem of technology, economics, policy, and culture that supports rapid innovation on a generative platform. 

I think the Army can unleash a wave of innovation at the edge by replicating the web's generativity on the battlefield and a couple of California National Guard guys I met have proven it. They managed to get a single Linux box authorized for the SIPRNET in theater and quickly used it to build a collection of web applications called Combat Operations Information Network that scratched a bunch of itches for their unit.

As simple as it was (a single underpowered Linux machine on the network), once COIN was on the network it was a generative node and people lined up to get other problems solved and is now widely used across the theater.

I tell the rest of the story about my reaction to General Sorenson's talk and how the Army's Battle Command System can support innovations like COIN here at Radar. I'll just link to it rather than cross posting the rest of it.

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