CONNECTING THE DOTS
The Guardian has an interesting piece on how today's social network technologies may be leveraged for government sponsored Homeland Security/Military applications:
"...a group of scientists and military officers...have helped build a new social analytics tool that identifies and automatically uncovers intelligence to help military personnel perform better in the field.
SRI International based in Menlo Park, California, teamed up with military officers to build a new social analytics tool called iLink that generates models and helps streamline the process by which a specific expert in an online community can be found.
In simple terms, iLink is a machine learning-based system that models users and content in a social network and then points the user to relevant content."
The article goes on to explain how this work is already being re-tasked for consumer and business social networks:
And with the demand for social networking growing – estimates for social networking users in the US alone by 2012 is expected to hit 92.2 million, according to In-Stat's Hitwise research service – the commercial benefits to businesses and individuals could be immense."
Looks like we may have the basis of making social networks a whole lot more useful for mainstream users.