Thursday, November 06, 2008

Netwar- the swarm, 2.0, and its effect on conflict.

The rand corporation published this white-paper on the subject that I think many of you may find interesting. (Not surprisingly, many of these are ideas I played with liberally during the creation of Fallen Nation.)

"Editors’ abstract. As with other new modes of conflict, the practice of netwar is ahead of theory. In this concluding chapter, we suggest how the theory of netwar may be improved by drawing upon academic perspectives on networks, especially those devoted to organizational network analysis. Meanwhile, strategists and policymakers in Washington, and elsewhere, have begun to discern the dark side of the network phenomenon, especially among terrorist and criminal organizations. But they still have much work to do to harness the bright side, by formulating strategies that will enable state and civil-society actors to work together better."

The use of "bad guys" and "good guys", used so liberally throughout, is rather comedic. However, the central premise is sound.

Also of particular note:

Why have the members assumed a network form? Why do they remain
in that form? Networks, like other forms of organization, are held together by the narratives, or stories, that people tell.

The kind of successful narratives that we have in mind are not simply rhetoric—
not simply a “line” with “spin” that is “scripted” for manipulative ends. Instead, these narratives provide a grounded expression of people’s experiences, interests, and values.

First of all, stories express a sense of identity and belonging—who “we” are, why we have come together, and what makes us different from “them.” Second, stories communicate a sense of cause, purpose, and mission. They express aims and methods as well as cultural dispositions—what “we” believe in, and what we mean to do, and how.

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