US Air Force lets Web 2.0 flourish behind walls

Web 2.0 is helping service members and civilian employees find the information they need more quickly

Blogs are catching on more slowly. There are only about 10 right now, most by middle managers, Adkins said. He started his own blog last September partly to get news about AFKN out to members and partly to convince other top officials to start their own blogs. Readers of his blog can post comments without a filter, he said.

Adkins doesn't believe it's necessary to review the content of anyone's blog before it's posted, as the Navy does with the blog of its CIO, which is available on the Web. Since AFKN began in 1999, there have been very few instances of people posting inappropriate information, he said.

"There are potential dangers, but I think they're minimal," Adkins said. The problem isn't really the new technology, because military personnel have had e-mail for many years, he said.

A recent addition to AFKN's offerings was RSS (Really Simple Syndication), to save users time in checking the various pages they were interested in. But the group ran into a problem implementing the new technology: No one had an RSS reader. They had missed out on this widely used type of software because Air Force employees aren't allowed to install new software on their own PCs, Adkins said. Finally, some members were able to start using it when they upgraded to Microsoft Office 2007, which includes an RSS reader.

One problem that hasn't hobbled Web 2.0 in the DOD is information-hoarding, even among different services, according to Adkins. They'll share anything that serves the mission, he said. "People realize that things that they're doing can make the difference between whether you're alive tomorrow night."

Robert McMillan in San Francisco contributed to this report

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