Informing Operations. Berlin Bound.

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
— Aldous Huxley, Complete Essays 2, 1926–29

Manipulating information, media, and news has always been a human problem. Since the first printed words (and probably before) people with good and bad intentions have practiced the art and science of bending perception and twisting opinion.

The fake news hit Trent, Italy, on Easter Sunday, 1475” (Politico)

In 1772 the Reverend Henry Bate (he was chaplain to Lord Lyttleton) founded The Morning Post, a newspaper that piled paragraph upon paragraph, each one a separate snippet of news, much of it fake.” (New York Review of Books)

I’ve spent a lot of time especially this past two years thinking about how information operates and how information operatives are effectively distorting realities. I’m packed (both physically with luggage, and metaphysically with a brain full of questions) and heading to Berlin for two days of the 360/OS Conference.

“At 360/OS our cross-sectoral network of “Digital Sherlocks” will create and cultivate techniques needed to expose falsehoods and fake news, document human rights abuses, and report the actuality of global events in real-time.”

Visiting Berlin for the first time, it’s easy as a boomer (born at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis) to think about Berlin in the context of the Cold War. But I don’t see Berlin in a John le Carré sense. Rather, I think about Germany in terms of Gutenberg’s impact, or how philosophers like Schopenhaeur and Nietzsche and the Bauhuas Design and Architecture movement have influenced me.

I’m also aware of being in the shadow of arguably a most engaged information operator, but have to recognize that Russia isn’t the only state player in the game. I also acknowledge it’s trite suggesting there are no simple solutions to complex human problems. It’s all about the questions we ask. I’ll be framing my questions around these ideas:

  • Technology alone isn’t the solution to the complexities of disinformation.
  • Tools create what users intend. We need to design for intentionality.
  • We need to see these issues in a more qualitative context that solely a quantitative one.
  • Recognizing it takes a network to defeat a network

I’ll be asking a few people at the conference:

  • Why are you doing this?
  • What keeps you awake?
  • What helps you sleep?
  • What’s one thing everyday citizens need to think about?

Here are a few quick hits that have given me valuable ideas to think about. For fiction, instead of John le Carré, give Ian McEwan’s, The Innocent a read.


Consider what we can do to elevate the idea, conversation, and implementation of Cognitive Security. Read Rand Waltzman’s “The Weaponization of Information.”

Add to your reading list:

The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson review — a restless tour through power.

Alexander Klimburg‘s — The Darkening Web

Because my core interest is network visualization and analytics, I’ll recommend watching this video:

Bletchley Park: Code-breaking’s Forgotten Genius

“Gordon Welchman was a World War II codebreaking hero, without him the top secret German Enigma codes might never have been broken. The war as a result may have lasted a further two extra years and tens of thousands more would have died. Gordon Welchman should be famous, his contribution to the war was as great as Alan Turing’s so why is it that we have never heard of him?”

“The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward” — Winston Churchill

I’ll look forward to sharing my next dispatch from Berlin.


John (CEO & Co-founder)

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