Break out the tinfoil… I need a new hat.

Brian and Alan beyond the blog

Alan Levine and I show off our metallic sartorial sense of style (Pic by Gardner Campbell)

Exciting synergies abound:

Exclusive: Google, CIA Invest in ‘Future’ of Web Monitoring

The investment arms of the CIA and Google are both backing a company that monitors the web in real time — and says it uses that information to predict the future.

The company is called Recorded Future, and it scours tens of thousands of websites, blogs and Twitter accounts to find the relationships between people, organizations, actions and incidents — both present and still-to-come. In a white paper, the company says its temporal analytics engine “goes beyond search” by “looking at the ‘invisible links’ between documents that talk about the same, or related, entities and events.”

In ‘predicting the future’ via ‘invisible links’, it sounds like there are still a few people in the Agency staring at goats.

Yes, the US Central Intelligence Agency proudly runs its own venture capital operation, In-Q-Tel, quite open in its backing and ownership of a raft of ‘alumni’ companies.

It’s not the very first time Google has done business with America’s spy agencies. Long before it reportedly enlisted the help of the National Security Agency to secure its networks, Google sold equipment to the secret signals-intelligence group. In-Q-Tel backed the mapping firm Keyhole, which was bought by Google in 2004 — and then became the backbone for Google Earth.

I first came across In-Q-Tel via this scathing backgrounder of Facebook (which has had funding raised by Greylock Venture Capital, who share senior executives with In-Q-Tel).

This criminally under-read series from the Washington Post estimated 854,000 people hold “Top Secret” US security clearances, and that “every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications”. So the intelligence community’s interest in enhancing its technological toolset — not to mention make sense of all that data it’s collecting — is understandable.

And hey, while the CIA has had a colourful history, surely the change President will swing the digital security state into a groovy vibe. Once the technology filters down, predictive web monitoring of students will be a boon to educators. I can’t wait for the iPhone app. Let’s not dwell on the past. I’m reminded of a song from a Canadian band:

Going too far
We won’t go too far
None of us will go too far
Maybe sometimes we went too far
But now we won’t!
Because we’re real nice guys!

That’s enough thinking for now. We’ve got work to do, websites to build, compelling online experiences to imagineer, edupreneurial ventures to launch…

But first, one more tinfoil hat picture:

This is what Web 2.0 looks like!

About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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