Nancy Dixon just blogged about A-Space, a Facebook-like space for the US intelligence community. She mentioned this to me a few months ago when we were finalizing her participation in KMWorld 2009 and I’m really pleased to see the executive summary in this post and the full 30 page study here. It talks about how A-Space is shaping the analysts’ work bringing in cogintive diversity. It emphasizes:
A-Space is an environment in which analysts collaboratively create new meaning out of the diverse ideas and perspectives they collectively bring to an issue. Through this collaboration, analysts have the potential to break through long held assumptions to provide new ways of thinking about complex problems.
Networked relationships on A-Space provide a stream of cognitively diverse information without the costly time investment that maintaining strong ties requires.
A-Space is reinforcing the value of asking questions of colleagues, providing analysts the means to uncover flaws in their own data and reasoning.
A-Space is providing analysts a set of new practices to: 1) build cross agency networks, 2) gain situational awareness, and 3) hold discussions of interpretation, that operate in parallel with the normal production process. These new practices constitute an emerging model that provides a level of cognitive diversity not previously available.
The non-hierarchal nature of A-Space, results in analysts feeling that it is okay to offer their thinking even if it is not completely formed or thought through, increasing the speed of product development by eliminating faulty hypotheses early on and quickly settling on those that are viable.