Podcast Transcription.  Originally published in November, 2019 on Spreaker https://www.spreaker.com/user/giovanninacci/osint-come-motore-di-ricerca-concettuale and YouTube https://youtu.be/YqqnAbWGLe0. See also “The General Theory for Open Source Intelligence in brief. A proposal“ on Academia.edu.

In “Open Source Intelligence Application Layer“ (Nacci, G., 2017, Edizioni Epoké), the idea is that “Open Source Intelligence” can also be considered as “Intelligence of Disciplines”, as disciplines are considered as (open) sources of human knowledge.

Disciplines are definable as “artefactual partitions of knowledge”, created to facilitate education and teaching, i.e., the transmission of homogeneous areas of knowledge. The perimeter of these “areas of homogeneous knowledge” is drawn by man in a more or less precise, more or less defined manner.

A clear and rigid definition of the disciplinary perimeter favours the acquisition of knowledge by learners but is probably not the best condition for research activities and the innovation of disciplinary constructs. So if the concept of discipline – which derives from “disciple”, as disciple derives from the Latin discere i.e. “to learn” – relates to the systematization of what is already known, the concept of “research”, on the other hand, relates to “any study activity that has as its aim the acquisition of NEW knowledge”.

Although research activities are carried out within disciplinary boundaries, it is clear that discipline and research have somewhat contrasting, if not opposing, attitudes. Disciplines tend to group, classify and historicize concepts. Research, on the other hand, tends to deconstruct them, and relocate them, innovating the topology and topography of the networks of relations that connect them.

It is precisely at this point that – in research – the need for an effective interdisciplinary praxis emerges strongly. In other words: the need for behaviours and postures that facilitate (and not limit) this activity of exploration, conceptual deconstruction and reconstruction becomes a priority.

But where does “Open Source Intelligence” come in, and where does our proposed General Theory for Open Source Intelligence come in? It was mentioned earlier how one of the main arguments of General Theory is to consider every object under observation as a “potential source”.

So, if disciplines can be considered as “sources of knowledge” then perhaps it is not so bold to assume that “concepts” (understood as systems of ideas and notions that express the essential and constant features of a given reality) are the sources of “disciplinary knowledge”. A clarification: the concept of “concept” (forgive the necessary repetition) concerns something (thought or idea) that is formed within the mind of an individual.

Therefore, it is something that – according to the classification offered by Nonaka[1] – can certainly be classified as “tacit knowledge”. But “tacit knowledge” – i.e., that of individuals, that which is not narrated externally – cannot be shared, so in a sense, it cannot materially participate in the construction of “disciplinary knowledge”.

This means that the “sources” of disciplines (i.e., the “making” of disciplines) are not (or not only) concepts. What really “make” the disciplines are the narratives that individuals make of their concepts. And – therefore – in essence the “externalization practices” of the “tacit knowledge” possessed by individuals.

However, the process affecting the “learner” is exactly the opposite, i.e. the “internalization” of the explicit knowledge made explicit by the disciplines.

Even research activities necessarily present this oscillating trend between phases of “silencing of explicit knowledge” and phases of “explication of tacit knowledge”. The difference is that in research this process does not take place within a single disciplinary perimeter, i.e. within a single discipline (as it does for both teacher and learner).

Research activities tend to trespass and overlap disciplinary perimeters, they follow necessarily transversal paths. Research activities carry with them their epistemic payload and are critical of the formalisms and classifications that the pre-constituted disciplinary spheres convey from time to time. And it is precisely in this commission that the engine of interdisciplinarity and disciplinary innovation lies. It is an engine that is undoubtedly powerful but which – precisely because of its “performance” – may expose it to the risk of undesirable (sometimes even ruinous) excursions “off the road”.

The idea is that if – as mentioned – we consider concepts and disciplines as “sources”, then it is possible to apply the methods and systems of the “General Theory for the Open Sources Intelligence” also to “disciplinary knowledge” (and disciplinary knowledge is hopefully always “open”).

Moving within knowledge, concepts, and narratives of concepts, navigating within the processes of internalization/externalization of concepts and knowledge, and constructing heuristic paths within the complex web of relations between knowledge, concepts and knowledge is certainly a complex task.

But one cannot help but notice the relevance of the above to an idea of a “network of sources”, as described within the Trilogy dedicated to General Theory. Probably “research activities” (in any disciplinary field, for any purpose) are the closest thing to the true essence of “intelligence”, understood as a “seamless information process aimed at achieving strategic advantage” (where “strategic advantage” can be defined as “the attainment of epistemic states that are always superior, always better than previous ones” or, in essence, the acquisition of ever-new knowledge).

What we decide to do with this wealth of knowledge, what we decide to do with this “strategic advantage” is no longer a matter of “intelligence”, but of intellect.



[1] Nonaka I., Takeuchi H., The Knowledge Creating Company, University Press, Oxford 1995