Monday, July 25, 2011

All of the News

Not a real post. Just a real excuse to link to this article for nefarious future purposes.

Wired's Danger Room had a huge expose/longread a bit ago about how DARPA was getting its hands dirty in quantitative analysis in the Afghanistan war effort. It's an interesting read for many purposes; politically bureaucratic squabbles, the efficacy of data in counterinsurgency, the efficacy of COIN, and the like. But there's a great big gaping whole in the article. It never explains why the DARPA program will help. How will knowing traffic patterns, stability of markets, and possible targets help "win" the war? What is the desirable end state? How will targeted executions help get to that end state? How will stable fruit prices help get to that end state? How will knowing traffic help get to that end state?

All of the program's goals have been goals for a while. Those goals have not seemed to matched with the overarching goal. It sounds like explaining "we can win the baseball game if we get a touchdown and maybe have some luck on set pieces." I just have a very difficult time seeing the connection, and this link is assumed without being proven. Maybe I'm just cranky, or maybe its really disconcerting.

Much better and more illuminating is this AREU piece on land rights in Afghanistan. It sets up the background, the problem, what is being done, and possible solutions, all very quickly and all without getting too technical. Its an interesting, relevant, topic, done well.

I'm not even gonna touch NYT/WaPo/CNN style reporting. There's just nothing of substance there. I'm sure there's room for attractive, simple, changes. I'm not sure on how to go about them.

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