Panel: Knowledge, Networks & Advanced Technologies

This is a wiki page for panel #3 (Panel: Knowledge, Networks & Advanced Technologies) of the March 18 event.

Despite its preoccupation with hierarchy, classical organizaiton theory grew up in opposition to the Weberian idea of a perfectly functioning bureaucracy. In addition to assuming lifelike agents with bounded rationality and a propensity for opportunism, the theory assumed from the start that few if any environments are stable enough to allow for perfect parsing of complex tasks; that the limits on parsability require improvisation; and that in understanding how humans act in organizations - administrative behavior - requires attention to this endemic improvising. Ironically the networked and federated organization structure outperforms hiearchy in volatile environments but only through the mechanism of standards for improvisation. As complexity, volatility, and uncertainty increase globally, networked and federated organizations proliferate, and the search expands for advanced technologies to cope with the agility imperative.


  • Brent Comstock (Director of Identity Management, COX Communications, Inc.)
  • Dave Culbertson (VP Security Center of Exellence, CA Technologies)
  • Norm Geddes (CEO, Applied Systems Intelligence, Inc.)
  • Jimmie McEver - moderator (Senior Scientist, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory)
  • Jeremy Schwartz (Gartner)


Papers by Norm Geddes et al



1.     A Model for Intent Interpretation for Multiple Agents with Conflicts. Abstract: Intent interpretation is the process of forming a causal explanation of the observed actions of an agent in terms of the current purposes of the agent. Most of the current work in this area has dealt with interpretation of the actions of single agents without unresolved conflicts. This paper describes the use of the plan-goal representational approach as originally formulated in Geddes (1989) to interpret actions of multiple agents with unresolved conflicts. This situation is of importance in the practical world, arising often in cooperative team and organizational behavior as well as in overt adversarial behavior.


2.     Shared Plans and Situations As a Basis for Collaborative Decision Making in Air Operations. Abstract: Over the past decade, continuous progress has been made in developing a style of decision aiding software known as an associate. Associate systems seek to pro- vide broad task support for users of complex systems such as aircraft, air traffic control and airline operations. Recently, networks of distributed associates have been investigated as the framework for collaborative systems in several settings, including the joint NASA/FAA Advanced Air Transportation Technologies (AATT) pro- gram. This paper describes how the collaborative deci- sions of the airline operations center and flight deck are supported by distributed associate systems. The result of this collaborative interaction is expected to be enhanced efficiency of operations and more effective responses to unplanned events with no loss of assured safety.


3.     Practical Applications of a Real Time, Dynamic Model of Intentions. Abstract: Over the past 15 years, the authors and their colleagues have developed and fielded a large number of human-computer collaborative applications that have embedded within them real-time, dynamic models of intentions for two or more active entities. This paper describes the services provided by real-time dynamic models of intentions, an overview of the technical approach taken in these models and a survey of a sample of the collaborative applications to indicate the range and complexity of the work undertaken to date.

Cognitive neuroscience?

Wondering if there is interest from this panel to discuss some principles of decision-making based on cognitive science?  When we talk about organizational knowledge, sense-making, etc., all in hopes of making better decisions - it may be helpful to cover what we know about decisions behind the eyeball.  Gary Klein, V.S. Ramachandran, Jeff Hawkins etc., as sources. 

National Security Projections 2019


Knowledge ecosystems.

Augmented group cognition.

Emerging virtual institutions.

The Power of Networks and Twitter

View the map at

Computational HistoryVisualizing The New Arab Mind 02/11/2011

Author: Kovas Boguta studies computation in the wild.

 "Experts say Egypt is the crystal ball in which the Arab world sees its future. Now that Mubarak has stepped down, I can share the work I've done making that metaphor tangible, and visualizing the pro-democracy movement in Egypt and across the Middle East. It is based on their Twitter activity, capturing the freedom of expression and association that is possible in that medium, and which is representative of a new collective consciousness taking form. The map is arranged to place individuals near the individuals they influence, and factions near the factions they influence. The color is based on the language they tweet in -- a choice that itself can be meaningful, and clearly separates different strata of society. Many fascinating structures can be seen. Wael Ghonim, a pivotal figure in this self-organzing system who instigated the initial protests on January 25th, is prominently located near the bottom of the network, straddling two factions as well as two languages. The size of his node reflects his influence on the entire network.  The lump on the left is dominated by journalists, NGO and foreign policy types; it seems nearly gafted on, and goes through an intermediary buffer layer before making contact with the true Egyptian activists on the ground. However, this process of translation and aggregation is key; it is how those in Egypt are finally getting a voice in Western society, and an insurance policy against regime violence. Many of the prominent nodes in this network were at some point arrested, but their deep connectivity help ensure they were not "dissapeared". Most of those in this network speak both English and Arabic, and their choice of language says a lot about both the movement and about Twitter. Some may choose to primarily communicate with their friends, while others make an effort to be visible to the rest of the world on purpose. They want to reach out, and connect with, the rest of the global society. The structure on the bottom, near Ghonim, seems entirely composed of this free intermingling.  In a case of ironic symbolism, the far left-most satellites are the Whitehouse, State Department, and Wael Ghonim's employeer, Eric Schmidt, who is merely a speck on the map..."

The AI Revolution is On

"The computers are in control. We just live in their world."

Volvo's CIO drives business agility

Magnus Carlander, CIO of Volvo Group runs a real-time business. To deliver high value at low cost, he seeks synergies among the company’s divisions and offers IT services that truly support the business.

"The better we can standardize what can be standardized, the more agile we can be on things that need to be agile." - Magnus Carlander, CIO Volvo Group. See the interview at


From Jeremy Schwartz

"As background - I am an Executive Client Manager at Gartner in our Executive Programs.  Gartner is a research and advisory company with offices world wide.  In my role I work with CIO's across multiple industries on their key initiatives.  Prior to Gartner my background was as a Project/Program Manager.

One of the themes I plan to introduce tomorrow is that of the Business Value of IT or that the only value of IT is Business Value.  Or in another words IT can not be agile simply for agilities sake.  Agility must be aligned with the corporate goals.  IT can no longer think of itself as a different animal or talk of IT-Business alignment.  IT is part of the business and to talk of alignment is to imply that IT is less valuable.  With the introduction of new services/technologies (e.g. the Cloud) IT must change is self destructive behavior or see its role in the organization and its budget shrink as more and more non-differentiating functions are outsourced.  One of the growing trends we are seeing is non-IT executives being made CIO and conversely truly effective CIO's being promoted to non-IT positions, e.g. COO.


From Brent Comstock

"I am the the Program Manager for Cox Communications residential customer Identity Management program. Cox is the the third largest cable system operator in the United States, with over 6 million customers. Prior to Cox I worked as an IT consultant, mostly performing process optimization design for large multi-national corporations.

I don't know that I have a theme to introduce, but I am keenly interested in understanding how to better enable my team to respond effectively to rapid change. Being the "delivery guy", I often am charged with providing additional capabilities with less budget and fewer resources. Process change can help improve efficiency, but my teams are at the point where I see that there must be additional approaches employed in order to improve our effectiveness. Changes in the needs of the markets we serve, combined with an increase with organizational change, have the potential to overwhelm my abilities to manage, and the team's abilties to pro-actively adapt. I recognize that this is a commonly recognized issue for nearly all corporations today, and am seeking thought leadership and best practices that can be put into practice for my teams next week.

I look forward to lunch tomorrow, and in meeting the members of the panel.

Brent Comstock
IDM Program Manager

From David Culbertson

"In my view of the world, everyday I encounter my clients' IT leaders being challenged by a litany of pressures and events; internal - from the business departments and executive leadership of the company, and external - from dynamic (sometimes chaotic) market events and a constant barrage regulatory requirements.   In all cases budgets are always flat or declining, and the days of frivolous IT spending to "solve a problem at any cost" are long gone... That said, there are emerging trends and models that are enabling companies to more nimbly adapt and transform at lower cost.  Some of these "enablers" are things like; elastic cloud computing (including SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS), datacenter virtualiztion/consolodation, and IT consumerization, all are improving the agility of IT (and the company overall) quite significantly.  Yet at the same time these new IT paradigms pose unique threats, risks and considerations over traditional IT models.  The agility imperative in this case, is finding the right balance of speed of execution, coupled with the right risk profile, all at manageable cost... so that the in-demand capabilities and services are provided without going over budget or exposing the company to undue harm.

Looking forward to the meetings, lunch discussion and afternoon Panel.  I should be there in the morning by 8am.


Dave Culbertson
VP, Security Center of Excellence
North America
CA Technologies, Inc.
M) 770 654-8876"

From Jimmie McEver

"Thanks very much for agreeing to participate in the panel on Knowledge, Networks and Advanced Technologies at this week’s “Knowledge Futures: The Agility Imperative” symposium at Emory University.  I am writing to introduce myself as the moderator of our panel discussion, and to provide you with some insight in terms of the envisioned flow of the panel discussion.  I don’t want to be too prescriptive, as my experience is that the best panels are ones in which there is spontaneous and interactive discussion both among the panelists and between the panel and the audience, but I wanted to make sure you have enough so that you can sketch out the topics you would like to cover.
I would also like to give each of you a chance to interact with me and with the other panelists to the extent you would like before Friday so that we can refine the agenda and set of “starter questions” as needed.
The topic of the panel suggests that we be prepared to discuss our own perspectives regarding the tools and technologies that we are using or are emerging to facilitate the networking and knowledge sharing/management that many communities recognize as key building blocks of agility.  In my own national security work, we often refer to the networks we are talking about as “socio-technical networks”, to remind us that the people and the interactions and transactions among them are what we are trying to enable with our investments in information and communications technologies.  Likewise, we would like to see organizations move their knowledge management efforts beyond document and information management toward activities that genuinely increase their shared sensemaking and complex decision making capabilities.   Along these lines, related topics that you might want to address include:
·         What does the term agility mean for you?
·         How these general topics manifest themselves in our particular communities;
·         Key challenges that may cut across our communities that we might collaborate on to overcome, and
·         Emerging concepts/solutions that we believe may hold promise for increase our ability to leverage knowledge, networking and related technologies to increase our capacity for agility.

Another slant on the panel’s general topic that may have some interest is that the organizations that are working to help provide solutions and products in these areas are among those with the greatest need for agility.  This is due to the particularly dynamic, uncertain, and complex nature of the spaces in which they work (i.e., related to cognitive-support and information and communications technologies).  Technologies are constantly being introduced and phased out, products must be integrated into a dynamic system-of-systems context, and the complexity of both the technological and human elements of the organizations we are trying to impact make it impossible to manage and control neatly in top-down ways.  Discussions of how the agility imperative plays out in our own industries and organizations, and how we are trying to deal with it in areas such as information assurance/cyber-security, software development, and others you may be engaged with will provide symposium participants from other communities with take-aways that they may be able to apply in their own domains.
The overall flow of the panel will be as follows:  I will start off by introducing the topic and asking each of you to take 5-8 minutes to introduce yourself to the audience (who you are, your background, and the nature of your organizations and your work)  and to provide some opening comments that touch on your interest in the symposium’s topic, why it’s important for you and your organization/community, and how you are currently thinking about and/or what you are doing or seeing as organizations work to deal with the need for agility.  This is where we will lay out for the audience how the agility imperative touches us and how we are thinking about it.
I will then go around and ask a set of “starter questions”, based on the topics covered above, to kick off the discussion among the panelists.  The kinds of starters I am currently thinking about are:
·         How can organizations determine their need for agility, or understand how agile they are?
·         What do you see as the biggest challenges to achieving agile capability, either to continue to generate innovative/responsive technology, or to leverage technology as it evolves?
·         What future capabilities in knowledge management, networking, or other technology areas do you see whose arrival would be a game changer (for either good or ill)?
·         What organization do you more admire / try to emulate when it comes to agility?
·         What about the human element?  Role of collaboration, trust, etc.?

In addition to these questions and others that might be implied by the above discussion, if there are particular questions or topics that you would like me to consider, either for the panel or to give you an opportunity to address a key element of the problem that I may not have described, please give me a call or email me.  I want to make sure that you have every chance to bring out your perspectives about important ideas here, rather than just address aspects of frameworks I happen to have.
After some starter discussion, I will open it up to the audience for questions.  I don’t think there is a need for all of us to address every question, so I will moderate the discussion as we react to questions, taking cues from you about which topics you would like to address, or relevant pieces your way.
Finally, as our time draws to a close, I will ask each of you for a minute or two each of closing thoughts.
I am hoping that we can do the intros and opening comments in 30-40 minutes, the starter questions in 30 minutes, and leave 20-30 minutes for interaction with the audience.  I will have some additional questions in my pocket in case the audience is insufficiently curious on a Friday afternoon (don’t think that will be an issue, though).
Note that we don’t just want to respond independently to questions, but rather respond to and build upon the responses of each other in a rich and lively dialogue.  I will try to encourage this in both the starter questions and the audience questions – but I will also try to keep things moving along…
Thanks again for contributing your time and energy to this endeavor.  I am looking forward to meeting you later this week and to what I am sure will be an interesting discussion.  Please be in touch if you have any questions or would like to suggest refinements to any of the above.
Take care,
Dr. Jimmie McEver
Jimmie McEver, M.P.P., Ph.D.
Applied Information Sciences Department
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Phone:  240-228-2385
Mobile: 301-500-9602"