Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Commander Flakey

Pageflakes, a one-stop research aggregator, is a manageable and efficient resource for compiling information and data through its use of widgets, which add third party content and are executed within any HTML-based web page. Pageflakes offers everything from weather forecasts to military podcasts, sports scores to keeping track of your chores.

For the purposes of constructing an aggregator for military strategy, I have compiled a variety of research tools on my Pageflake including: news feeds, RSS content, social bookmarks, annotated bibliographical information, and information regarding the latest in military scholarship. My RSS Feeds and My Diigo Bookmarks make up the initial presentation of my Pageflake, which offer insight into the contemporary discussions on military thought, military principles, and military decision making. Some of the most valuable feeds include Armchair General, Internet Anthropologist, War News Updates, and the Fogg of War, which provide commentary on everything from fixing the defense budget, the War in Afghanistan, Middle East foreign policy, and actionable intelligence. I think of My RSS Feeds and My Diigo Bookmarks as the first line of offense in engaging the enemy that is the massive amounts of streaming information on contemporary political-military decision making. The ability to compile hundreds of content-streaming syndications onto one user-interface is the definition of efficiency in research. For example, this morning I was browsing My RSS feeds and I came across a pertinent topic that is already being discussed by military practitioners, as well as political lobbyists and congressmen. Armchair General's recognition of the problem with the defense budget and the defense acquisition process is first-rate and was a welcome intellectual introduction before I started to listen to the morning news regarding the very same topic. My Social Bookmarking Soulmate via Diigo, is presented at the bottom of the page. FruFruFourOne is a consistent reliable source for bookmarking everything from "flanking manuevers" to the "financial crisis" which helps supplment my knowledge of political-military decision making.

I have used the widgets Universal News Search and Universal Blog Search for assistance in gathering a more broad selection of pertinent research material. Inside each I have appointed the search terms "military strategy" and "war on terror," respectively. While the search engines are not as detailed or narrow as My RSS feeds they do offer a general overview of the happenings in foreign policy and global military operations. In comparable usefulness as My RSS feeds is My Zotero Bibliography, which consistency amazes me in its fluidity and efficiency. Citeline, combined with the functionality of Zotero allows users to transmit bibliographical and annotative information via an "exhibit," which is essentially a template website with user-altered bibliographical content. In My Zotero Bibliography I have exhibited 8 sources: each of which exemplifies different aspects of political-military decision making including principles of military strategy, philosophies of attrition and total war, decision making among military authorities, command and personality doctrines, and of course, weapons and materiel. The once tedious process of referencing an MLA handbook and annotating the sections through a word processor are now all but eliminated.

For my personal entertainment and enjoyment I have added a few news and business widgets, which keep me up to date with political and economic reports. A small sampling includes the Department of Defense's streaming website, FoxNews, and the Economist. I found a wonderful and exciting podcast that streams constantly, that is perfectly named, "Military History Podcast," which at this present time is streaming everything from "Democracy in Iraq" to the recent "Troop Surge."

The personalization is what initially drew me into the realm of Pageflakes, but what made me stay was the fact that after the initial giddiness from placing random news widgets on a plain white box was gone, I found that it was actually one of the most useful research tools that I have ever come across. When I started by saying the word "aggregator" I really mean the creation of my personal newspaper, one that does not give me the 'lifestyles' section if I do not want to read it. Rather, I get a heaping double dose of the front page and business sections, with audible content, and massive amounts of streaming commentary and hi-definition images. Pageflakes acts as a collective intelligence of my personalized information and research interests. To this end, my source for information is not FoxNews or CNN.com or the Economist, it is The General's Pageflake, a quasi-personification of my interests, my research and my sources.

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