In The secret service for the rest of us, Matt Mower writes:

I’ve often wondered how feasible it would be for us to setup an intelligence service to watch them (most recently I was wondering whether there are intelligence services at work in Second Life). After all; What is an intelligence service other than an organization that collects data from the edge and analyzes it for the benefit of its customers?

Blogs and other read/write web tools give us all the ability to gather data and, in our own fashion, analyze it and pass it on. We are each miniature intelligence services for a varied clientelle and, although we too are biased, our bias can be adjusted for since it is more easily determined (over time).

More than a decade ago two futurists – James Dale Davidson and William Rees-Mogg – wrote of the coming breakdown of state-based security and the growth of independent, individual security forces in their books “The Great Reckoning” and “The Sovereign Individual.” They were ridiculed pretty widely at the time and the books were considered fodder for bunker-dwellers, albeit rich bunker-dwellers. Much of what they projected was based on cultural and social models already visible at the time in Latin countries dominated by drug cartels. 15 years and the meteoric rise of technology have changed the landscape of what can be done but, if anything, the predictions of Davidson and Rees-Mogg seem more tangible than ever. If they were guilty of anything, it was merely being too far ahead of their time.

Current futurists and military analysts like John Robb (my source for the original story) are busily deconstructing the projected fall of the nation-state, peak oil,  the rise of non-state entities, etc all of which is important. But no one seems to be thinking about my problems in the way that Davidson and Rees-Mogg did – deciphering what all this chaos means to the individual – and more importantly what to do about it.

How do we predict the unpredictable? How do we assess probability and impact? How do we, as individuals, make the right choices for where to live, where to put our money, how to prepare for the unexpected, how to protect our family, our friends, ourselves? Packing the basement full of survival rations, bottled water, duct tape and gas masks is a shallow, and rather ineffectual, approach.

What we really need is analytic intelligence for the individual. Governments – no matter who’s – are unreliable sources of information for the individual (if they can be considered reliable sources for anything at all save waste and corruption.) But to get such intelligence will be very difficult. Matt is right, current social software tools provide a glimpse of what may be possible, and many of the tools are being deployed within intelligence communities. But that is the key. Could we, as individuals, build our own intelligence communities?