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F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / M A R C H 2 0 1 2
repository of information, much of
which appears in unstructured text, e-
mails, memoranda, cables and other
documents. Trying to cope with the
flurry of messages from Versailles at
the conclusion of World War I, the
State Department adopted a system of
metadata, known as TAGS, to assist in
quick delivery of messages to the rel-
evant recipients.
Today, that system still serves as a
taxonomy for filing and archiving, and
it also functions as a basis for rudi-
mentary analysis. The diagram above
shows a word cloud de-
picting the frequency of
tag use in a set of 60 ca-
bles generated by a
search for “science” and
TAGS were introduced
nearly a century ago, the
system has aged well.
Still, as knowledge work-
ers in an information
economy and as man-
agers of State’s knowledge assets, we
should look to do better, and not wait
for some catastrophe to force change.
Technologies currently in use in the
State Department serve those who al-
ready know what they are searching
for. In contrast, visualization opens up
Frequency diagram of tags in 60 unclassified cables identified by the search terms “science” and “diplo-
macy” gathered between August 2010 and August 2011.
AFSA Resource Marketplace
Find the Most-Requested Resources from the
Overseas Briefing Center Online at
1. FSI’s Transition Center
2. U.S. Department of State Overseas Briefing Center (OBC)
3. Security Overseas Seminars: PSOS, ASOS, SAA, SOS, SOS
4. Transition Center Training home page for eligible family
members and members of household (MOH)
5. International Jobs - Working Overseas
6. Country Information (Bidding Resources)
7. Transition Center Courses
8. Preparing to Go Overseas
9. Pets and International Travel
10. Foreign Service Assignment Notebook: What Do I Do Now?
11. U.S. Department of State Career Transition Center (CTC)
12. Personal Post Insights
13. Elementary School Stuff
14. Arrange Medical Clearance and Immunizations
15. High Stress Assignment Outbrief Program