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Filtering the ISN to fit your needs – Find Information

Find information

With over thirty thousand content objects in a variety of formats, the ISN holds a vast repository of data on international security research. But how do find what you’re looking for?

To enable you to locate articles, publications or podcasts for your specific area of interest, the ISN provides a filtering tool called “Find information”. The “Find information” box is located on the top right of the ISN website. First, select the most important criterion for your research, either subject or region. After clicking on your item of choice, you are presented with the topmost level of region or subject matter. To narrow down your research area, you can choose a more focused region in the tree view in the left pane. In the example below, we first chose “Africa” as a region and then narrowed the search to “Southern Africa”.

Easily filter by regions

Define the main criteria for your search and easily enhance the filtering.

You could also narrow down the region even further. e.g. by choosing Angola or Comoros, but we will leave this for now and turn to the second filtering option, by subject. The subject tree is right above the region tree in the left pane. Clicking on a subject now will add this filter to the already selected region. » More

WikiLeaks, the Greenpeace of Politics?

 

With more revelations coming out every day, the latest WikiLeaks stunt will stay in the news for some time to come. But what really came out of these leaks? Any surprises, any shocks or just glorified diplomatic gossip? And what effect will it have on world affairs in the months and years to come?

ISN’s editorial staff reacts:

WikiLeaks reminded us of how ugly war is with the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs. Now they shed light on diplomatic practice, which turns out to be less diplomatic than we thought. After having dishonored warriors and undressed diplomats, who will WikiLeaks target next? Business executives, says Julian Assange, and it is only fair that corporate wrongdoers will have to pay their share. And then, whose turn will it be after? The NGOs, I assume, because it would surprise me if they didn’t have anything to hide.

– Ralph Stamm

The latest collection of documents released by WikiLeaks makes for exciting reading. The cache of diplomatic cables contains a bunch of juicy exploits of the sort usually found in gossip columns. Yet that’s exactly the reason why their publication should not be supported. To a disturbing degree, their release is like stealing the diary of the most popular girl in school and posting it on the Internet. It serves no purpose other than to satisfy the public’s curiosity, while embarrassing the officials in Washington and across the world. However, it is part of the nature of human communication that one doesn’t always say the same thing to every audience. Therefore, if we are interested in the existence of a diplomatic corps, it must be allowed to operate without fear of humiliation. By turning into the world’s new diplomatic gossip channel, Wikileaks has lost both its credibility and its integrity.

– Joav Ben-Shmuel » More

Kenya’s ‘Digital Villages’

Farmers in Kenya / Photo: Marc Steinlin, flickr

Farmers in Kenya / Photo: Marc Steinlin, flickr


If it comes to fruition, Kenya will be at the forefront of easing the governmental paperwork logjam. According the Daily Nation, the East African country is in the process of planning “digital villages” where citizens can visit to download applications and documents such as birth certificates and file their tax returns online.

The website quotes Information and Communication Minister Samuel Poghisio as stating that by 2012, “every district will have a digital village, and all that people will have to do is to download such forms from the internet.”

According to Capital Business, some of the villages will be set up in post offices, with a focus on rural areas.

But there’s more to the plan than just providing access: According to CB, the Kenyan postal service has suffered an 80 percent drop in revenue due to customers turning to the internet.

“[Postmaster General Retired Major General Mohammed Hussein] Ali said such initiatives would enable them to compensate for the loss that the corporation has suffered due to a drop in revenues collected from sending postal mail,” the report states. Ali is also quoted as saying that the post does not receive financial support from the government.

I’d be interested in knowing how much the post plans to charge.

Caution To the Wind: Engaging Terrorists Online

Photo: Jiva/flickr

Photo: Jiva/flickr

There has been a bit of a buzz in the counter-terrorism (CT) blogshere during the past month due to two notable exchanges between bloggers and prominent members of violent non-state groups that utilize terrorism and other means of political violence.

In one example, John Robb, author of the Brave New War and the Global Guerillas blog was recently contacted by Henry Okah, an arms dealer who has supplied arms to militants in the Niger Delta and assumed various leadership roles in the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), a group based in the Niger Delta that has, since 2006, launched sustained attacks aimed at the energy sector.

Robb, who has written about Okah on numerous occasions and identifies him as a guerrilla entrepreneur, did not go into detail about the exchange with Okah except to say that he asked to meet with Robb in person. One can assume that more info will follow as the exchange develops.

In another instance, Australian Leah Farrall, currently an academic and author of the All Things Counter Terrorism blog, was also contacted by a well-known figure – Abu Walid al Masri, a senior Arab Afghan adviser to al-Qaida and the Taliban and author of numerous books in Arabic relating to Afghanistan and al-Qaida.
» More

Serendipity Should be Less of a Concern

Serendipitous encounters / Photo: Hartwig HKD, flickr

Serendipitous encounters / Photo: Hartwig HKD, flickr

Those among you who are interested in the origin of words may already know the etymology of “serendipity.” The word is based on an ancient tale called “The Three Princes of Serendip” and describes an accidental and fortunate discovery of something unexpected.

Serendipitous discoveries take place because of how things are ordered and because of the search tools and practices we employ. At the ISN we are also concerned with the order of things. We classify our content by using about 3000 keywords on international relations and security. With this concern in mind, on Wednesday in our weekly editorial meeting we discussed a recent NY Times article by Damon Darlin on the loss of serendipity in the digital age. According to Darlin, because of the internet tools in place today we have “lost the fortunate discovery of something we never knew we wanted to find.”

So we wondered: Does indexing information really remove the element of surprise?

I believe this is not the case. Indexed information in any encyclopedia is a beautiful opportunity for serendipity. To support my argument I will cite Jorge Luis Borges, who, in his “Investigation of the Word” (in Selected Non-Fictions) talks about the “alphabetical disorder” of dictionaries. What a beautiful opportunity of finding words with very different meanings next to each other just because they share the same initial letters!

» More

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