It does seem a little late for them to be realizing that blogs might be useful but at least the story more or less gets the details right:

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research recently began funding a new research area that includes a study of blogs. Blog research may provide information analysts and warfighters with invaluable help in fighting the war on terrorism.

Dr. Brian E. Ulicny, senior scientist, and Dr. Mieczyslaw M. Kokar, president, Versatile Information Systems Inc., Framingham, Mass., will receive approximately $450,000 in funding for the 3-year project entitled “Automated Ontologically-Based Link Analysis of International Web Logs for the Timely Discovery of Relevant and Credible Information.”

“It can be challenging for information analysts to tell what’s important in blogs unless you analyze patterns,” Ulicny said.

Nothing really new here. Blogs of War has been mined by government funded companies for years. One even sucked down my RSS feed (and yes your comments too) several million times during 2004-2005. I thought that was a little rude (and told them as much) but let them continue because they were a well respected company and there was a slight chance that they were doing useful work. This new effort will attempt to sort through the datalanche that is the blogosphere:

“We are developing an automated tool to tell analysts what bloggers are most interested in at a point in time,” Ulicny said.

This analysis, Kokar said, is based on what Versatile Information Systems calls the RSTC approach to blog analysis – relevance, specificity, timeliness, and credibility. RSTC helps information analysts filter the most important information to study.

“Relevance involves developing a point of focus and information related to a particular focus,” Kokar said. Timeliness has to do with immediacy – how important is a topic now. “Credibility,” he continued, “is the amount of trust you have in an information source.”

$450,000 to reinvent Technorati? I wonder if these guys are hiring…

I’d rather see the Military spend that $450,000 on something more productive like learning how to communicate with bloggers. They’re still patting themselves on the back for sending me and other bloggers the link to DefenseLINK via email. There’s so much more that they could be doing, on the PR and technical fronts, to move their information.

Answer Me! (Dr. Brian E. Ulicny)


  1. Deryl McCarty

    In WWII the US invented Content Analysis – an intelligence gathering system to glean information from the tightly controlled Nazi press to really find out what was happening in Germany. It worked. Content Analysis is used today for research projects and is certainly available for researching the blogs and using sophisticated programs instead of a room full of people reading newspapers. You probably don’t need to spend a lot money to find out how to use a system that already exists.

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