Sneak Peak at "World Hall"

Recently, Shane Deichman of Wizards of Oz introduced me to World Hall‘s closed beta. World Hall will be an online collaboration tool currently under development, that seeks to bridge the gap between communication and action. World Hall is an open source project, and can be seen as a Wikipedia for collaboration.

Entering data and starting discussions in World Hall is easy enough that I had initially hoped that it would position itself as a full fledged blog management system. However, at this point World Hall faces a big question: how should attribution be handled? Attribution is obviously central to blogs, where a weblog is either the product of one person and even group-blogs clearly identify who is contributing what. In a wiki, however, authorship may be stored for administrative purposes, but the authors of a piece are essentially anonymous. The creators of World Hall recognize that a start-up should focus on what it hopes to do best, so World Hall will be less of a blog/wiki and more of a microsoft project/wiki. The decision to focus on project management instead of discussion management will make World Hall invaluable for tight-knit communities, 5GW plotters, and the like, while more decentralized networks and 4G organizations would be advised to look elsewhere.

World Hall looks like it will be quite the product, and my thanks to both Shane and everyone at World Hall for giving me both the back-stage pass, and the inside information. Thanks!

Dreaming 5GW, Part III: Lessons from Software Development

Unleashed Kadath (from

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

“Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but provocation by a fool is heavier than both.”

“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”
King Solomon (Proverbs 27:1,3,12)

In 5GW, secrecy is vital for success. While this has always been true on some levels, secrecy has never been vital on the grand-strategic level before 5GW. In 5GW the enemy’s knowledge of your existence all but ends your plans.

Describing 5GW, Mark Safranski writes

It occurs to me after reading Dan’s post the that a very powerful shift of longitudinal perspective takes place. 4GW is executed over a very long time frame, sometimes decades. 5GW is conceived in terms of strategic vision over an even longer time frame, sometimes before an opponent realizes that they will be an opponent but the execution time may be very short in comparison to 4GW. The operative question is probably whether the attacker or the defender has initiated 5GW – once you are already attacked you have missed your opportunity to shape the battlespace.

Once I realized what 5GW is, re-reading Mark’s words immediately reminded me of Systems Analysis & Design with Omar El-Gayar. The crushing Systems Analysis & Design class, called “SAD” by everyone, teaches that to create a system a plan must be created, in analysis of the plan against the current situation must be conducted, a design must be established, and finally the system must be implemented. Visually:

PADI: Planning, Analysis, Design, Implementation

Over the years, two different philosophies have surfaced of the best way to design a system — the most effective way to run through the plan-analysis-design-implementation obstacle course.

Waterfall Development was the first method tried. It takes every step one-after-the-other. Careful and methodical, it looks like a waterfall or perhaps a series of dammed locks, each lower than the last Because Waterfall Development occurs in a series, it might also be called “serial development.”

Waterfall Development (PADI, Serialized)

(A variant of waterfall development, “parallel development,” breaks down one large products into several smaller projects, each of which use their own waterfall model.)

The other major philosophy is “Rapid Application Development,” the most famous version of which is “Prototyping.” The chief difference between Rapid Application Development Prototyping and Waterfall Development is that RAD allows projects to evolve, changing as new requirements come in. RAD is considered to be much more flexible than Waterfall Development, and has become the industry standard in almost all subfields of software engineering.


Industry Standard Prototyping / Rapid Application Development (RAD)

Warfare, like software development, is a complex human undertaking involving reconciling a future worth creating with stakeholders. Waterfall’s top-down Soviet-style leadership seems most appropriate for older generations of war, while Prototyping’s user-centric approach is closer to 4GW and “open source” warfare. So will 5GW be “Waterfall Developed” or “Prototyped”?

To see, just look at the pros of Prototyping:

What’s Wrong with the Pros of Prototyping?

Need a hint?

In Prototyping, User Can Identify anything

Prototyping lets the end-users know the project exists. 5GW relies on the users not knowing that the project exists at all.

Prototyping allows for loose, Darwinian networks of projects competing with each other with user-input. For 4GW, this is fantastic. But just as being “fast” is more important than being completely “right” in maneuver war, being secret is more important than being completely “right” in 5GW.

5th Generation Wars will be created with Waterfall Development. We can see what 5GWs will be like by looking at what Waterfall Development is like:

  • Requirements must be known a long time before fighting begins
  • Requirements will be rigid and non-adaptable
  • Long Time between proposal and victory

(tdaxp’s Note: Before I put 5GW together with Systems Analysis, I could not see why Mark would say “5GW is conceived in terms of strategic vision over an even longer time frame, sometimes before an opponent realizes that they will be an opponent but the execution time may be very short in comparison to 4GW.” It seemed a non-sequitur. My hat off to Mark for seeing this long before I did.)

Dreaming 5GW, a tdaxp series
1. The Dream-Quest of Unknown 5GW
2. The Uncaring War
3. Lessons from Software Development
4. 5th Generation Networks
5. A Boydian Approach to 5GW
6. A Dream of 5GW

Barnett wrong on Obama

Tom Barnett and I agree on a lot (such as the use f private contractors to counter the excessive relative value given to individual lives in public discourse), but he’s wrong in his defense of Senator Barack Obama and his attacks on Senator Clinton (see posts from July 28 and July 25). Specifically, in a recent Democratic Party debate Obama said that he would freely meet with rogue leaders without preconditions, while Clinton emphasized the need for care and concern when meeting with rogue states.

Meetings with high-level American officials are goods. They benefit not only the regimes hosting the officials, but those factions within the regimes seen as orchestrating it. The opposite is also true: when American officials are too busy to visit some country or organization, the snub hurts not only the would-be host but those elements that are seen as having “lost” or “depended on” the visit.

It’s is foolish to pretend that high-level American officials have an infinite amount of time and energy, or that as much time as possible should be spent visiting our enemies instead of our friends, “on the fence states,” or even doing the other jobs they are employed to do.

Barnett’s defense of Obama is wrong, and I fear it has a lot more to do with exasperation against Senator Clinton and the “baby boomers” in general (or perhaps the physical pain Tom’s enduring) than with the validity of Obama’s statements or even Barack himself.

For a more reasonable analysis of Obama’s statement, see zenpundit‘s Obama’s lack of sea-legs in foreign policy.

Update: A social faux paus! As I’m complaining, Tom is complimenting!