[Discuss] network centeric warfare and open source development

Matt Maier blueback09 at gmail.com
Fri Mar 28 18:46:28 UTC 2014

Oh, yeah, I did correspond with him once back when I was researching
vehicle forge. He handed me off to a member of that project.

On Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 12:34 PM, Ethan Chew <spacefelix at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hello,
>       The current undertakings of Lt. Col Nathan Wiedenman at DARPA's
> Tactical Technology Office come to mind (
> http://www.darpa.mil/Our_Work/TTO/Personnel/Wiedenman.aspx).  He has been
> the program manager for the DARPA grant to SpaceGAMBIT for the Hackerspaces
> Space Program.  He and his DARPA department has worked with the open-source
> development of various ground vehicles by the Adaptive Vehicle Make (AVM,
> http://www.darpa.mil/Our_Work/TTO/Programs/Adaptive_Vehicle_Make__%28AVM%29.aspx)
> and the open development of software by the DARPA Open Catalogue (
> http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2014/02/04.aspx).
>       He would be a very good candidate to ask of the intersection of the
> benefits of openness and of central control.
>                  - Ethan
>  On Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 10:07 AM, Matt Maier <blueback09 at gmail.com>wrote:
>>  I think I see an unexpected connection and I was wondering if it held
>> up to scrutiny.
>> Information Age Transformations, David S. Alberts
>> http://www.dodccrp.org/files/Alberts_IAT.pdf
>> Network-centric warfare, which is the high-falutin' paradigm the US
>> military is using to organize its move into the information age, has four
>> tenets:
>>    - A robust networked force improves information sharing
>>    - information sharing and collaboration enhances the quality of
>>    information and shared situational awareness
>>    - shared situational awareness enables self-synchronization
>>    - these, in turn, dramatically increase mission effectiveness
>> What I see is a strong conceptual parallel to the open source philosophy.
>> If you think of a technical problem, or a particular capability, as "the
>> enemy" and solving or achieving it as "fighting" then the domain-specific
>> ideas in network-centric warfare suddenly describe open source development.
>> The core idea is that if everyone knows what the goal is, and everyone
>> has access to the same information, then conversations can flow
>> peer-to-peer, which is far more efficient.
>> It seems like the only important difference between these two theories
>> are where they're coming from. Open source has emerged bottom-up, so it
>> only grafts on a "head" when absolutely necessary. Network-centric warfare
>> has emerged top-down, so the "head' isn't interested in actually giving up
>> any significant power. The former wants to know how everyone at the edge
>> (because there is no center) can benefit from knowing what each other
>> knows. The latter wants to know how the center can benefit from having
>> better tools to give to the people at the edge.
>> NCW reminds me a bit of Quirky or Local Motors. They absolutely love
>> talking about openness and collaboration, but they are actually strongly
>> centrally controlled. However, they are also relatively successful.
>> So, how much of the benefit of open source network effects is it possible
>> to obtain without giving up the benefits of central control? A military,
>> and arguably a (public?) business, can't even consider the possibility of
>> "forking." They have to give up whatever benefits come with maximum freedom
>> of association, but still want to capture whatever benefits are left over.
>> The intersection could be studied by asking the corporate/military people
>> how & why they introduced some aspects of openness into their organizations
>> and by asking the libre-open crowd how & why they introduced some aspects
>> of central authority into their collective.
>> My guess at the moment is that it will hinge on whether or not there is
>> an accumulation of wealth that doesn't rightfully belong to any one person.
>> I suspect when that exists an artificial entity has to be created to be the
>> "person" to which the wealth belongs. But that's mostly an intuitive guess.
>> -Matt
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