Archive for the ‘Gadgetry’ Category

I could be really teed off at this broad for dashing my hopes of what I thought would be a kick-ass thesis by accomplishing it first, but I am too in awe of her massive mental abilities, and as such, have decided to profile her instead.

Judee-doll was born in Ames, Iowa in 1948. A fairly normal upbringing ensued and resulted in classic mid-western dame. Judee attended Iowa State University where she earned a degree in both Speech and English minored in both Social Studies and Education. She quickly went on to earn a Masters in Speech Communication and a PhD two years later in Communication and Educational Psychology.

So let’s tally this up before proceeding:

  • Speech: verbal communication
  • English: written communication
  • Social Studies: ability to learn about people in context
  • Education: ability to teach people
  • Communication: a hefty blend of all of the above
  • Speech Communication: a further blend of speaking about all of the above
  • Educational Psychology: how people learn in educational settings

I’m not going to lie here: I expected her head to be size of mutant watermelon. I mean really, that is a heck of a lot of knowledge for one brain in such a short amount of time, but I Googled her and her head seems well-sized. So let’s continue:

Judee bounced around academia teaching in Florida, New York, Michigan and finally settling in Arizona where she is firmly installed a the University of Arizona. Her teaching and research interests according to her website read:

My primary teaching and research interests center on nonverbal and relational communication, with emphasis on such interpersonal communication processes and outcomes as expectancy violations, deception, nonverbal relational messages, conversation involvement and dominance, and dyadic adaptation patterns. I also have a subsidiary interest in mass media uses and evaluations.”

So you might be asking yourself:  Why does this dame deserve a post on this site? Simple, because she performed research  in something that I predict will become massively important in years to come: automated detection of deception

Long story short, aside from the usual verbal and non-verbal cues people provide when trying to deceive, Judee and her team developed a tool called “Agent 99” (named after the female Get Smart characterlove it!) that can detect (not always but there’s always room for improvement) deception in text messages.

Wow, wow, and more wow. In a world where Twitter informs the public of a major revolt inside a seemingly closed society, or is used as a tool of communication and deception in a government experiment, or is used to proffer information during a natural disaster , sound decisions making is going to depend on the ability to separate the wheat from the chaff, the noise from the signal, the mayo from the baloney. So this Agent 99 tool? Pretty damn useful.

And Judee exemplifies what I love most about women and their contributions to Intel: they come from where you least expect it.

This, of course, still means I am stuck in search of a thesis topic…

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If I were a praying girl, I would be screaming “Amen and Hallelujah” from the rooftops today over the confirmation of Letitia Long as the new Director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. But since I am not, let’s just discuss Long instead.

But if I may, can I comment on the fact that there are 16 Intelligence agencies in this country and we are only just now appointing a woman as the head of one? Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased as punch, but it’s still akin to waking up today and feeling like it’s 1990 and not 2010. Baby, you’ve come a long way, but not long enough…

So who is Letitia Long? She is a longtime Navy-civilian professional entering the trade in 1978, where she worked in project engineering in the area of submarine acoustics, and climbed the ranks to join the Office of Naval Intelligence where she managed R & D programs.

From there, Long performed a dizzying rotation in the Senior Intelligence Executive Service while also serving as Director of Resource Management for the Office of Naval Intelligence in 1994. She then completed a hat trick by joining the Defense Intelligence Agency during this time where she eventually became the Deputy Director of Information Systems and Services in 1996.

Can you say “dayamm”? I’m tired just typing all of that.

Please let this be a lesson to everyone out there who is stuck in the belief that Intelligence revolves around poli-sci, history, and computer science. Long is a trained engineer. And let’s think about that: it involves design (establishing a requirement and refining it); building (collection, exploitation); testing (production), roll-out (dissemination); and checking (feedback when it’s given).

Engineers work in teams; they are often great collaborators. They require project engineers to manage them; someone to juggle the pieces and keep in mind the bigger picture. They require communication skills to dumb-down the technical terms for non-engineers (read: clients). And most importantly, they require sound, logical thinking lest the whole contraption falls apart.

A person who can accomplish honing all of those skills is a golden egg and it looks like NGA just got theirs.

imagesOkay, I’m sooo late to the game on this one, but after a recent weekend spent on the couch with a lame back, a friend loaned me seasons 1-4 of NCIS, and now, I hate to admit, I’m hooked. The upside is that I feel like I have gotten my proverbial blogging mojo back. And it’s mostly because of Abby…and my theory about her parentage…

I know Abby, forensic technician extraordinaire!, is supposed to be the hearing child of deaf parents, but I think it’s a cover. I think Abby is the quirky, overachieving love-child-gone-wrong of X-Files residents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully…who also got kicked out of reform school…and single handedly supports the local tattoo parlor…

See, while Abby’s hard science tradecraft is truly superb, like mama Scully, just like old papa Mulder she too wants to believe. The chick digs crop circles! And unabashedly believes in aliens! But despite all her science, Abby brings a dash art and a heaping tablespoon of philosophy to her dishes. She is a creative thinker and willing to use that occasionally big bag of crazy between her ears to explore alternative theories.

I liken Abby to the revolution that has been going on in industrial design for the last ten years. Companies have been hiring not only the very best engineers but artists as well. Artists who may not remember a thing about high school trig class, but that doesn’t mean they can not dream up a truly new and innovative way to make a stapler.

Sure the character lacks boundaries, and her who hero-worship of Gibbs is slightly odd (although I totally dug the whole Gibbs-Shrine thing as a coping mechanism at the beginning of season 4), and so is her devotion to Catholicism while she plays with voodoo dolls and parties in cemeteries, but darn it if the girl doesn’t get the job done each and every time.

Abby’s interest in, well, everything makes her the perfect poster child for the 21st century knowledge worker. And the fact that she is allowed her public weirdness makes her that much more effective. Personally, I could wouldn’t want to share lab space with person that into Death Metal, but I think Abby, for her stellar quirkiness, does all us adorable, tattooed freaks proud.

And yes, while you may not know me, I am visibly in-your-face-tattooed, and quite adorable, and I am known to perform some damn fine analysis…but I prefer late 1970’s punk to Death Metal. That’s where Abby and I part ways.

imagesIf you have children, nieces or nephews, or just really loud neighbors kids living next door, you are probably familiar with the the 2004 Pixar movie The Incredibles.  A terrifically silly film about a family of superheroes trying to juggle their abilities and their relationships while maintaining a new identity after the government forced all superheroes into retirement following the advent of mass litigation for rescues resulting in collateral damage.

Along with said superheroes forced underground is Edna ‘E’ Mode. She is the research and development specialist, forced into hiding as well, who designed the super-suits for the superheroes only to be relegated to designing clothes for supermodels, or as E refers to them: “Supermodels. Heh! Nothing super about them… spoiled, stupid little stick figures with poofy lips who think only about themselves. Feh! I
used to design for Gods!”

how-the-incredibles-works-6E is part ‘Q’ from James Bond, part Anna Wintour from Vogue, and a force to be reckoned with. A simple patch-up job on an old super-suit turns into a new line for the entire family, custom engineered to suit one’s individual ability. The skewering commentary she offers for her services is, of course, free.

I’m not going to comment on the accuracy of an animated R&D character in a cartoon, except to say she is a funny little minx, but I do want to comment on the need for research and development in the Intelligence Community.

Simple fact is that not everyone is an agent. The IC hires scientists, computer programmers, doctors, nurses, secretaries and even janitors. Not everyone is cut out to be an analyst or an operative, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for you in the IC. Want to contribute to greater good and security of your country? Step up and put your smarts to good work.