Page 17 - FSJ_03_12

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new ways to manage knowledge, by
seeing phenomena as connections,
patterns and trends, rather than as
documents or pieces of information.
It’s a movement from “I know what
I’m looking for” to “I need to see what
I
should
be looking for” — a rather
different approach to problem-solving.
In science and engineering, visual-
izing has become a fundamental aid to
asking the right questions, helping us
to address the age-old problem that
“we do not know what we do not
know.” To quote Lewis Platt, former
CEO of Hewlett Packard: “If HP
knew what HP knows, it would be
three times as profitable.”
Exploration of the applications and
mechanics of how State could use data
visualization in practice is better left to
another paper. But as the government
invests in using such tools to enhance
defense and intelligence missions,
should we not consider what advan-
tages we might gain from applying
them to our diplomatic and develop-
ment goals? And can we really afford
to keep relying on documents and tex-
tual narrative as our knowledge para-
digm, rather than adopting new
technologies to pursue our national in-
terests?
What Next?
Here are three broad ways in which
data visualization could benefit State:
• Deriving more value from data
in order to better formulate foreign
policy;
• Understanding data better in
order to operate more efficiently and
effectively; and
• Supplementing public diplo-
macy to communicate more effec-
tively.
S
P E A K I N G
O
U T
Today’s information
environment is
characterized by
rapidly increasing pace,
volume and complexity.
M A R C H 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
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