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There's a quiet revolution underway at the CIA and its sister agencies. A new generation of analysts, determined to drag their Cold War colleagues into the world of Web 2.0 information sharing, has created Intellipedia, a classified version of Wikipedia they say is transforming the way American spy agencies handle top secret information by fostering collaboration across Washington and around the world. Rolled out to skeptical veterans at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., in 2006, Intellipedia has grown to a 900,000-page magnum opus of espionage, handling some 100,000 user accounts and 5,000 page edits a day, according to the CIA and the office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Its advocates claim Intellipedia is not just a sign of change at the agency, but is producing results. The first time chlorine was used in an improvised explosive device in Iraq someone threw up a wiki page asking what intelligence officers and others in the field should do to collect evidence of its use. "Twenty-three people at 18 or 19 locations around the world chimed in on this thing, and we got a perfectly serviceable set of instructions in two days," says Tom Fingar who headed the National Intelligence Council from 2005-2008. "Nobody called a meeting, there was no elaborate 'gotta go back and check with Mom to see if this is the view of my organization.'" Last year traffic on Intellipedia got so heavy that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence had to find extra money to upgrade its servers. (Read "The CIA Scandals: How Bad a Blow?")
Intelligence organizations needed to become complex and adaptive, driven to judgments by bottom-up collaboration, like financial markets or ant colonies - or Wikipedia. [...]