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CIA Top Secret Wiki

The CIA's top secret wiki became a little less secret last week. IT officials from the normally reticent Central Intelligence Agency told an overflow audience at the Enterprise 2.0 conference last week about one of the newest technologies being used in intelligence gathering - its Intellipedia wiki.

In yet another example of business to government cross pollination, the presenters articulated how the super-secret Intellipedia knowledgebase accumulates meaningful information and makes it accessible to intelligence agents and agencies around the world.

According to CIA staff Don Burke and Sean Dennehy, there was some initial resistance to the idea of the Intellipedia wiki, however, the cultural change and user adoption challenges were comparable to the obstacles incurred by private industry. "In a big organization, there's always someone who can say 'no,'" said Burke, who also carries the title of Intellipedia Doyen.

Intellipedia is based on the same underlying platform as the popular Wikipedia online encyclopedia. The wiki satisfies the critically important role of delivering information for members of intelligence community agencies. The Intellipedia is new solution to an age-old dilemma of how to best get information to agents who can put it to immediate use.

Dennehy stated that Intellipedia is still in the early adoption state and while there are is comparison to the online Wikipedia encyclopedia, there are many material differences as well. "We're not dealing with facts," he said of the general mission of intelligence and security agencies, "We're dealing with puzzles and mysteries."

While Burke and Dennehy said they were not in a position to reveal many Intellipedia details, they did indicate that the implementation of a major system like Intellipedia is similar to the challenges incurred by any large operation that is geographically and organizationally dispersed. They also shared that the CIA wiki has three levels of user access -- all of which are secured behind firewalls. The top secret network is now available to members of the intelligence community. The next level is also available to military and State Department officials. The lowest level of security permissions permit access to non-agency staff such as university researchers cleared for work with government agencies.

Posted August 15, 2008 in Web 2.0
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