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The Strategist and the Web: Guide to Internet Resources

Authored by LTC James Kievit, Dr. Steven Metz.

February 20, 1996

28 Pages

Brief Synopsis

Lieutenant Colonel James Kievit and Dr. Steven Metz begin the effort to construct guideposts for strategists to follow. They provide basic information explaining the most important features of the Internet, and a critical review of more than a hundred of the electronic sites most likely to be of interest to research analysts or military planners. While the authors conclude that the Internet today "is not a solution to the analyst's need for relevant, timely information," they argue that individuals and organizations must prepare themselves now for the day in the not-so-distant future when "an analyst's collection of Internet 'bookmarks' will be nearly as valuable as a rolodex of personal contacts is now."

Summary

For strategic analysts, the ability to collect information rapidly and to evaluate its relevance and validity is a crucial skill. By allowing the nearly instantaneous transfer of information, computers are now helping to assure it is timely. The Internet offers access to millions of documents and files on a vast range of topics. But to make maximum use of it, researchers must understand its strengths and weaknesses. Analysts trained in library, archive, and word-of-mouth research must learn where to look for salient electronic information.

The Strategist and the Web provides an Internet "Primer"--an introductory road map of the 'net explaining its most important features: the World-Wide Web, news groups, and electronic mail ("email"). Then it examines numerous Internet sources. From these it identifies both sites of current value to a strategic analyst, and those with the potential to become important resources after further development.

Although sometimes valuable, the Internet today is not a solution to the analyst's need for relevant, timely information. New resources and methods appear and others fade away on a daily basis. Within a few years, though, presence on the web is likely to stabilize somewhat. Once that happens, an analyst's collection of Internet "bookmarks" will be nearly as valuable as a rolodex of personal contacts is now. The astute analyst will prepare for this. By exploring the web today and developing effective methods for finding and using electronic information, he or she will be ready when the Internet finally does make the leap from luxury to necessity.

To help make this exploration easier, Appendix A provides the URLs (electronic addresses) for all the sites reviewed in the essay.


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