Markets are powerful creatures. Despite getting slammed by the press all week, DARPA's Policy Analysis Market, or PAM was a good idea. It is too bad it was introduced poorly, there are few ways to consolidate and filter massive amounts of intelegence. This would have been a good start on identifying trends and places where our defense and policy types should pay attention and focus their limited resources. James Surowiecki, has written a must read article for anyone who has found themselves confused by the press hubbub surrounding PAM.
James doesn't mention it, but a market already exists to allow people to bet on political events here in the US, along with a market betting on the fall of Saddam and other current events. In fact, there is now a new market betting on Poindexter's ability to remain on the DARPA payroll! I'm betting no. Keep the market, dump Poindexter Go to Tradesports.com and click on Current Events to see each of these markets in action.
The NYTimes had a story a few days/weeks? ago, now available in bits and pieces (or here) on how hobbyists have taken to modifying the Xbox to turn it into a PC.
While many think of this in the way car manufacturers view replacing parts of a car to improve performance, Microsoft is not pleased. Contrast the Microsoft attitude with the attitude of Lego - who has (I believe) worked to encourage people to tear their products apart. (Hmm, chances are good they might buy another one!) Good if your margin is in hardware, bad if it's in software
Bottom Line: Unless you design and build a system to be resilient to attack, you will not get much sympathy when someone uses your technology for something you did not intend.
The digital security industry has long understood that security through obscurity is almost always a temporary solution and never a solution that can be relied on. The rest of the world has yet to figure this out. According to the Washington Post a grad student has created a map of all US businesses and the physical communications links that connect them. Federal security types are aghast - even Richard Clarke, the erstwhile former counter-terrorism czar commented that the map should be burned... Seriously who is he kidding?
Maps are valuable. This one makes it very easy to determine where the weak points in our nation's communication systems lie - which means maybe we should be using it as a basis for building the redundancy and security that many customers thought they were buying all along. This map creates a body of information we should have had long ago - who cares if it exposes some poor decisions that were made along the way. It exposes the numerous places where communication lines are shared, mixed, and connected - leaving us with another reminder that in many cases it is impossible to tell where one entity stops and another begins. In cyberspace the perimeter is dead. We are all connected - which means the psychopath that lives on the other side of the planet might as well live next store.