Alidade Online Discussion


Welcome to the Alidade Online Discussion. Since March 2001, more than 2,000 collaborators have exchanged thousands messages in a collective exploration of the dramatic changes facing the military community. The journalist Tom Ricks estimates that the most interesting messages on the Alidade Online Discussion get forwarded to tens of thousands of additional readers. Major themes include:

  • Information Age Innovation and transformation in the defense industry
  • The future of warfare
  • The Global War on Terrorism
  • Strategy and policy in the Information Age

The Alidade Online Discussion continues to be one of the largest public military communities online, and brings correspondents together in cyberspace from such geographically and culturally displaced areas as Singapore, South Africa, Australia, Sweden and Hungary. Of course, the US military is heavily represented.

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There are currently two ways to participate.

Direct e-mail: Each message in the discussion will be sent directly to your e-mail inbox, and you can respond directly with your e-mail software (such as Outlook or Entourage).

Digest: A daily e-mail containing a digest of each day’s traffic will be sent to your e-mail inbox. You can then cut-and-paste the specific e-mail you want to respond to from the digest into your response e-mail. This cuts down on traffic but adds a few more steps. Also, the discussion threads in digest e-mails are a little harder to follow.

About 65 per-cent of the members are “lurkers,” list members who read the traffic with great interest but rarely, if ever, respond. About 20 per-cent of the members contribute most of the content, which sometimes means the content is focused by a small minority. Not infrequently, however, this group will get "steered" by erstwhile lurkers who are finally driven to weigh in and stir things up. This can make the list is kind of like a talk show without a host, but it is one of the fascinating characteristics of online communities.

Another feature has been the utility of the list: more than one senior DoD official has used the Alidade Online Discussion to solicit input from the community and many members pose open questions to get a wide survey of responses to particular topics.

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About the moderator

The moderator, Jeff Cares, President and CEO of Alidade Incorporated, monitors the discussion. Jeff is a top thought-leader in Information Age military innovation and consults at the most senior levels of the international defense industry. He has been the primary author of numerous transformational concepts, including Distributed Networked Operations, Sense and Respond Logistics and the Information Age Combat Model. He lectures internationally and at service colleges on the future of combat. Harvard Business Review selected Jeff’s research to the Top 20 list of “Breakthrough Ideas for 2006” and he has been featured in such Information Age bellwethers as Wired and Fast Company.

He is the author of Distributed Networked Operations: The Fundamentals of Network Centric Warfare and Operations Research for Unmanned Systems, and has published pioneering work in the application of complex systems research to military problems. The National Research Council’s Committee on Modeling and Simulation for Defense Transformation championed this book as the leading approach to solving the challenges of modeling network-centric systems. Jeff is a combat veteran of the first Gulf War whose military career has included multiple command tours and more than a decade of service on four-star staffs.

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Rules of Engagement

The following rules govern basic housekeeping and good online manners.

  1. Be courteous and polite.
  2. If you are changing the topic, change the topic. Use a new subject line so that others can follow the thread or be drawn into a redirected conversation they were diverted from a few messages ago.
  3. If you break the thread, break the thread. After changing a topic, discard the irrelevant parts of the old thread. Otherwise, some threads have had almost 20 pages of pro forma “footer” before you get to the real message.
  4. PSOA, DJ (Please spell out acronyms, define jargon: there are many non-military folks on the list.)
  5. Report spammers.
  6. Feel free to propose your own rules to the community.

Click here to sign up and participate in the Alidade Online Discussion.