Poll of a Billion Monkeys

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Signal, Sygnet and Sigil - The B Reader

Signal, Sygnet and Sigil - The B Reader

For your consideration:

This is something I've been thinking about for a very long, long time. However this morning I was reading the new Counterterrorism Blog and it occurred to me how the idea might actually be implemented.

The basic idea would in some way be similar to that of the Counterterrorism Blog. It would allow experts with divergent and asymmetrical opinions on various subject matters to publicly present those opinions in order to influence public, institutional, legislative, and even military action on aspects of current policy and operations. However unlike the Counterterrorism Blog it would cover an open field of subjects ranging from, but not necessarily limited to: military affairs, intelligence matters, counterterrorism, espionage, psychological operations, counterintelligence, national politics, international politics, law enforcement, technology, economics, futurism, and related topics of local, national, and international interest.

Secondarily it would diverge from almost all other blogs of this type in the fact that it would not be just another “Expert Blog” nor would the opinions and analyses be limited to "mere experts." Yes, it would contain articles and writings by people with their own substantial personal base of expertise and experience, but it would also allow the posting of the ideas and opinions of thoughtful amateurs and private citizens, who nevertheless have good and interesting perspectives regarding these subject matters and would like to have a place to express them. Of course the amateurs would have to meet the same criteria of "professionalism" of content and expression in any pieces they submit, as would the experts. That is to say that any amateur piece submitted would have to be well written, well expressed, and well reasoned, but it could easily deviate from and distance itself from accepted doctrine and wisdom, and hopefully it would do just that in order to be of value to others. In other words the amateur productions would not have to agree with expert opinion in any way, merely be well reasoned and well argued from that particular point of view. Anyone could contribute, expert or amateur, citizen or foreigner, as long as his or her paper or presentation was of high quality and well executed.

Why would one possibly want to create a website where expert opinion and amateur opinion freely mix, you might ask yourself? The answer is self-obvious if you just think about the potential for a few brief moments. Expertise tends to become self-limiting over time, experts become calcified in their opinion and slow to change and understand change, relying upon their past and present level of expertise to solve problems, when in truth new and vexing problems often require new solutions well beyond the scope and kin of currently established expertise.

The amateur on the other hand is often extremely inventive but also usually has little understanding of how institutional and organizational processes function, and what can realistically be achieved, and what cannot be realistically or economically achieved.

By mixing the wisdom and experience of the expert with the inventiveness and innovation of the talented amateur a cross-fertilization may develop which helps to synthesize beneficial approaches to extremely difficult problems.

In addition this process of cross fertilization will help the amateur to better understand the expert and the difficulties of his necessary method of operation and help the expert to become exposed to ideas outside the normal parameters of his operational method and theatre, and thereby gain new and fresh insights he had previously lacked. The amateur can provide innovation and insight, the expert wisdom and clarity. Together they may just possibly work so well in unison that heretofore seemingly impossible problems become manageable and soluble.

I'm going to run this idea by some of my friends in the military, government, and related fields and see what they think of it, if they would like to contribute, or if they know others who would like to contribute. Then I will be going from there based upon their recommendations and what I think can be accomplished.

There are other problems to work out of course before this venture can be launched. First of all, though I intend to contribute I will be too busy to contribute all of the time, so instead I will act more as Editor in Chief, contributing when I can. The next problems will be form and format. At this point I am considering a topical approach with a new topic being submitted once every two weeks or once a month. One or more experts could then write about that topic, and one or more amateurs could write about the same topic. The contributors would not see (nor would anyone else except the editors) each others products or writings or papers until such time as they were published on the blog or site (simultaneously or near-simultaneously), and then everyone would be free to react to those productions in any way they wished. As for format I currently see the project as either a standard blog or a Wiki site, but I'm leaning more towards a blog, as the Wiki site might be too easy to crack, deface, and malignantly edit.

The last few problems should be fairly easy to solve, a method of submission, how topics are arranged, what topics are presented and when, and editorial criteria.

If you have any comments to make on this proposal or idea then please feel free to email your ideas and responses to me or post them here, to the Missal.

Finally I should say that provisionally I am thinking about calling the Blog
the B Reader. But I'm open to other suggestions as well.

article here: http://themissal.blogspot.com/

© JWG, Jr. 2006

™ JWG, Jr. 2006

1 comment:

Coach Don said...


I read with interest your comments about combining expert opinion with “amatuer” opinion. My experience is that if you did succeed in creating such a venue, it would be more valuable if you did not allow experts to express their opinions as “expert opinion”. Their input, suggestions, or ideas should stand on its own merit rather than on some standing as an expert.

I would recommend Danial Yankovitch’s book The Magic Of Dialogue as a good source of ideas on this topic, especially his section on televised dialogues on national issues. Also some good material on something called “Deliberative Polling” might be something you want to check out.

Don Sullivan

Host of Dialogue A Different Way To Talk