Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Army Facebook 2.0

My last Blog entry on this subject led to a very interesting conversion with a writer from Fast Company magazine. Ellen McGirt called to get some more details on what the Army was considering regarding Facebook. During that conversation I was able to paint a picture in which the social networks in Facebook could serve as an organizational structure to bring together people who want to train together in a shared environment. Something like this would work for entertainment gamers as well. Imagine that you want to plan out your tactics and then everyone meet to launch into the game at the same time. Facebook is one medium in which you could share information and do the finishing touches before jumping in.

Is the Army working on using Facebook as a group training portal to its online games? No, not yet. But we are talking about what Facebook means to us. What value does it present? What tools could be usefully embedded into or launched from it? Given our security limitations, it is highly unlikely that we would do something like this using the real Facebook. Instead we might instantiate a private version inside of government networks - something similar to what we have already done with Google Earth.

Oh, my talk with Ellen also convinced me to create my own Facebook account. I find it quite fun to play with all of the tools available. I just don't have any friends in there yet, so imagine a party with just 2 people there. But, I have been building quite a network at LinkedIn. It seems my associates are a little more "serious" about their connections and prefer something based on resume stats, rather than personal photos and maps of travel.

BTW - I am currently in Kansas City, MO. As a result of using the travel mapping widget on Facebook I looked at the rental car map and asked, "How far is it to Nebraska from here?" Because I just realized that Nebraska is one state I have not visited yet. The rental agent told me that people who go to Nebraska do not come back. I think he meant it was a great place to live.

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Periodic Table of Simulation

We all learned our chemical elements from the Periodic Table. That curiously arranged graph of elements showed the relationships between the elements and many of their fundamental properties.

Imagine applying that same method to simulation. What are the fundamental elements of simulation? How would you arrange them for meaning in a Periodic Table? Would such a tool be a useful way to convey the core information about our industry?

I have been in this industry for 20 years and have developed a personal mental organization of the core topics. But that is a secret map inside of my head that I have never tried to extract and capture in a concrete form. I think new entrants into this field would find such a Periodic Table extremely useful.

One group has applied the Periodic Table of Elements to the graphical presentation of information. It is one example of how this might be done.

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Sunday, September 2, 2007

Army Facebook Community

Facebook is one of the popular social networking sites. It is a distant second in number of subscribers to MySpace. However, the largest social group on Facebook is made up of members of the US Army. The network has 43,000 members who have identified themselves as being associated with the Army. Is it possible to communicate with all of these people through Facebook? If so, then how can this network be used to conduct or coordinate training? Given that the founders of Facebook have opened it up to outside tool development, would it be possible to build training or simulation content that is actually accessed and launched through the Facebook interface?

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