IBM 'jam' technology goes global

The Security Jam uses an IBM platform to bring together thousands of participants eager to take on cybersecurity.

It’s early Feb. 5 and about 100 hours remain of Security Jam, an online, international brainstorming event that organizers hope will advance the cause of peace and change the world forever.

If you think that sounds ridiculously ambitious, you’re probably right. And very possibly wrong.

Security Jam has some major heavyweights in international affairs behind it. Official support comes from the European Commission, NATO, and the governments of France, Sweden and the United States.

The experience, which runs on technology developed by IBM Corp., roughly parallels a five-day conference, with individual discussion groups and forums hosted by subject-matter experts. Getting the right people to host discussions is crucial, said Liam Cleaver, leader of IBM’s Jam Program Office. “You want people who will be a strong draw."

Helping to kick off the event Feb. 4 was forum host NATO Supreme Allied Commander of Europe Adm. James Stavridis. “It was brilliant,” said James Kevin Mac Goris, communications manager for international think tank Security and Defence Agenda (SDA).

Logging in from a military aircraft cruising at 35,000 feet, Stavridis described his security concerns and “just sort of threw out the question: ‘What really matters?’ and waited for responses,” Mac Goris said.

Entrance to the free event is by invitation, but registration is open to qualified professionals via SDA’s Web site.

“We and the other nine think tanks wanted to look at a broad spectrum of ideas,” Mac Goris said. Brussels-based SDA is the lead sponsor of Security Jam. Invitations went to tens of thousands of “the thinkers, analysts, leaders — the doers” in all aspects of international security, he added.

No one is anonymous; everyone must include his or her title, affiliation and e-mail address, “so we have that sense of it being a credible discussion,” Cleaver said.

But the online structure lets participants feel free to say what’s on their minds, Mac Goris said. “I was looking at one thread, which had 300 posts and replies and conversations, and thinking that if we had a conference in a room, no way would we get 300 comments in three hours.”

A view into the data cloud

On Day 2 of the six-day Security Jam, more than 4,000 were people logged in and nearly 2,000 comments posted.

Connecting with an idea or person in such a rising sea of posts and threads could be overwhelming. It was an issue IBM addressed early in development, Cleaver said. The answer was a “theme cloud,” which visually represents concepts of interest and appears at the bottom of the page when a participant logs in. About every four hours, a new theme cloud is generated.

“What we liked about the approach of the theme cloud vs. the tag cloud was that a tag cloud gave you a single word or how a singular word was used,” Cleaver said. “A theme cloud represents conversations that are knitted together from across the jam. It’s just a very logical way to represent the discussion in a way that let people engage quickly.”

Being able to quickly see how discussions have evolved and what new themes have emerged helps keep participants coming back, he said. “Over the last 10 years, we’ve found people will come in and out of a jam maybe seven or eight times, and each time they will spend from 45 minutes to an hour and a half,” he added.

But even with thousands of participants and posts, Security Jam only qualifies as a minijam, Cleaver said.

In 2005, IBM ran Habitat Jam for the United Nations. It focused on solving some of the world's most critical urbanization issues and attracted 39,000 participants in 158 countries.

IBM’s internal Innovation Jam in 2006 brought together more than 150,000 people from 104 countries, including IBM employees, family members, academicians, business partners and clients from 67 companies. In two 72-hour sessions, participants posted more than 46,000 ideas, which resulted in 10 new businesses and $100 million in funding.

“How do you have a meaningful conversation with that many people, understand what they’re talking about and then take action on the results?” Cleaver asked.

The technology underlying the theme cloud also helps make sense of the data at the end. Cobra, a text analytics tool from IBM Research, provides the data mining capabilities.

After Innovation Jam, Cobra helped winnow the ideas down to 36. Those 36 went back online for 72 hours of further brainstorming before being trimmed to 10. Of those 10, about half now constitute the company’s Smarter Planet campaign, which works on new solutions in energy, infrastructure, epidemiology, emergency response and other areas.

The best ideas from Security Jam will be compiled in a report that will be presented at an event in April and sent to the European Union, NATO and 50,000 people worldwide.

Jamming for change

Since its first internal jam in 2001, IBM has conducted more than 30 jams — 20 for other organizations, both public and private, Cleaver said.

Typically, organizations decide to do a jam when there’s a platform for change in place, he said. “They’re trying to think through what the new ways of working are.”

It’s about understanding the problems, said Nicholas Donofrio, IBM’s executive vice president for innovation and technology, in an interview after Innovation Jam. Sometimes, it’s not “an invention, a creation or a discovery,” he said. “Sometimes it's just seeing things that other people missed. It's looking at these deep intersections or interstices and seeing something that nobody else saw before.”

Nokia approached IBM about doing a jam in 2007 as part of an initiative to re-examine the company’s business strategy, Cleaver said. The jam let the company get ideas from all its employees, not just those directly involved in the effort, he said. “One thing you get out of that is an amazing array of great ideas.”

No IT leader is hosting Security Jam — although Carl Bildt, Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, is reportedly something of a tech head — but a strong cyber thread purposely runs through the proceedings. “We’re not technologists, so we asked IBM to invite those it felt could make contributions to the discussion,” Mac Goris said.

“One of the points that someone made was that the importance of cybersecurity is widely underestimated,” he added. “That opens a whole discussion of what will our model be? Will it be like China with everything controlled by the state, a closed model? Or will it be like ours, which is permeable but can be damaged?”

In the final report, he said, “I think one of the results recommendations will be in the area of IT and what is typically referred to as cybersecurity.”

Although proceedings are visible only to those registered for Security Jam, several participants are tweeting or creating Facebook pages about the event.

To register for the event, go to www.securitydefenceagenda.org. Organizers will manually process requests for individuals and organizations that have not been whitelisted or specifically invited.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.