information (n.): the currency of the future. The good stuff. The stuff that you don't want to be overloaded with. Knowledge is power.

agility (n.): the quality or state of being able to move sumptin. In other words, making sure you can act in a quick, efficient fashion (but be graceful, young grasshopper).

Information agility can mean two things. For management strategists, it's the quality of making sure information is able to pass freely about your organization. This generally is interpreted classically as a knowledge base that everyone contributes to, as well as the influence from upper management to use it within your organization. The goal of course is to make sure your right hand knows what the left one is doing. This is especially important in larger organizations - but also in smaller ones - where people could possibly end up working on the same thing and duplicating effort, something the Man never wants you to do because it wastes eir money. There are other concerns in creating a knowledge base, but I won't approach those here. However, Wiki is probably a good place to start.

The much more interesting version of the concept of information agility is data agility: It can also be a method of information resiliency. You don't want your information to remain in one static place for reasons of privacy or security, or maybe you just want to be able to access it from anywhere. If information is agile it can move freely - if it's not encrypted this can be a killer method for making sure as many people see it as possible, if you're paranoid or running for your life from the CIA and you must get the message out about the capitalist pigs. If it is encrypted, your goal is to keep it safe - but if it can be attained by the wrong people, this is bad. Of course they can just sit on the wire and hijack your packet - but if you're moving before they do, they can't tap everything. So information agility, in example, is a concept of keeping your data moving - giving it an "infinite lifetime" until you need it again. This isn't the pattern buffer of Star Trek fame, it's bouncing your data around the Internet in the RAM of client machines but not allowing it to be stored anywhere.

Of course, you can have your information agile without using this particular method. Information agility isn't always about avoiding the Man, but it is in the technoculture world, or should be. There's also a quality of obfuscation or steganography involved, but that's not strictly related to information agility.

I think the principles of information agility are:

  • Movement must be reliable. If movement isn't reliable, perhaps duplication or "splitting" the information is in order, where you can reassemble later.
  • Movement must be fast. Don't sit around waiting for someone to mess with you. Today you probably just need to move faster than the next guy; tomorrow you may have to move faster than the AI. Hot potato. Move it!
  • Movement may be intelligent. You don't want to be predictable, but you probably want to select carefully where your information goes: Don't want it falling into the hands of the enemy, do you?
  • Information should not contain the whole story. Think about information as a key rather than the lock, or what sits behind the door. Public key encryption accomplishes a similar function, but people are dumb: They leave their secret key where someone can find it. Think plausible deniability.
Hopefully this information helps you on your quest of information tradecraft.