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The Strategist and the Web Revisited: An Updated Guide to Internet Resources

Authored by LTC James Kievit, Dr. Steven Metz.

October 17, 1996

40 Pages

Brief Synopsis

Every day of the "Information Age" makes more material available via the Internet. Yet simply "surfing the 'Net'," while perhaps enjoyable as recreation, is ill-suited for rapidly locating valid, salient information. This is particularly true for analysts or military professionals seeking to develop strategy, to research national security issues, or to provide policy advice. With the original edition of this essay in February 1996, James Kievit and Steven Metz began an effort to construct guideposts for strategic thinkers and practitioners to follow when travelling the "information superhighway." That such a "travel guide" is valuable is amply demonstrated by the rapidity with which SSI's stock of the original The Strategist and the Web has been exhausted.

Accordingly, the authors have "revisited" the Web and updated this guide for planners and researchers interested in the practice, problems, and policies of contemporary national security and military strategy. As with the first version of this essay, the authors conclude that the Internet still is not "a solution to the analyst's need for relevant, timely information," but they remain convinced that individuals and organizations must prepare themselves for the day when "an analyst's collection of Internet 'bookmarks' will be nearly as valuable as a rolodex of personal contacts is now."

Summary

For analysts or planners attempting to craft appropriate, timely solutions to strategic problems, the ability to collect information rapidly and to evaluate its relevance and validity is a crucial skill. Computers linked via the Internet can offer timely access to millions of documents and files on a vast range of topics, and the number of documents available increases on a daily basis. But to make maximum use of the Internet as a research tool, researchers must understand it. And analysts trained in library, archive, and word-of-mouth research must learn where to look for salient electronic information.

Like its predecessor, The Strategist and the Web Revisited provides an Internet "Primer"--an introductory road map of the Internet explaining its most important features: the World-Wide Web (WWW), Usenet news groups, and electronic mail ("e-mail"). Then it examines numerous catalog and search engine, Department of Defense, U.S. Government information, think tank and professional journal, international organization and foreign government, and news and regional information 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.

Today, although valuable, the Internet is not a solution to the analyst's need for relevant, timely information. Within a few years, though, an analyst's collection of Internet "bookmarks" will be nearly as valuable as a rolodex of personal contacts is now. The astute strategist will prepare for this. Only by exploring the web today and developing effective methods for finding and using electronic information, will he or she be ready when the Internet finally does make the leap from novelty 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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