Intelligence is defined here as having:


IntelligenceFailure is a break in intelligence. In particular, situations where the right information has been collected into the vicinity, but does not reach the right place at the needed time.


After the tech crash, you get a job running medical records. A patient comes in who is going to die in 30 minutes. Doctors can’t remember the patient’s name, much less 100 pages of notes. The patient’s medical record is in the building, but not in the stacks. Likely, the patient’s lab is being worked on, or with the nurses for an old Triage, or is perhaps in Pharmacy. Medical records staff race searching for the chart, but it is not found in time. The patient dies. 5 minutes later, the chart is found. Intelligence Failure.

(I seem to remember a news report about someone who was given an organ transplant, but then died because someone, somewhere forgot to check blood type compatibility. Oops. I wish I could remember the name of the victim (if that’s the right word), or where I read that … WikiGnomes?: replace this rambling paragraph with a link to the appropriate news report.)

You are at home, and need to hammer in a nail. You go to get your hammer, but find out that it’s uh… broken? You say to yourself, “I need to buy a new hammer.” Two days later, you are walking by a hardware store. But, for whatever reason, you’ve forgotten all about the hammer. Intelligence Failure.

You live in a suburb of Seattle: Lake City. You can’t connect to your ISP. You look in the phone book, find someone in Issaquah who could help for $40/hr. This man pollutes the air from Issaquah to Lake City, sells you a brand new modem, accepts $40, and then pollutes the air all the way back to Issaquah. But just across the alley, lives LionKimbro, who could have helped you. He’d happily fix the computer for $20, and runs on Food, not Gasoline. He’s got an old modem sitting on his desk that he’s been trying to give away. Intelligence Failure.

Particular Types of Intelligence Failure

CategoryInformationManagement CategoryIntelligenceTheory


Too often people try to solve the problem of insufficient information by swinging all the way to the opposite end of the spectrum, too much information: InformationOverload.DavidCary


  • We should point to “solutions.”
  • IntelligenceFailure doesn’t mean: Heap on more information.
  • Moving content from WikiKM.

We should give some pointers to solutions to the problem of IntelligenceFailure. I’ve just now linked this page to CategoryInformationManagement, which will help.

Of course, we can’t find the solution. That would basically mean that, anything you wanted to do, anything, you would know the exact one shortest course to accomplish that aim..!

I would like to note that IntelligenceFailure does not mean, nor does it say, that we should heap on piles and piles of information. Rather, it says that the problem is not having the right information, at the right time, at the right place. If you just heap up piles and piles of information, without any order to it, you still have the same problem you had before: IntelligenceFailure. (Because: The right information is not at the right place, at the right time.)

“IntelligenceFailure” is part of a general theory of Intelligence. There are also ideas like “IntelligenceSystem?” (how you do things, so that the right information comes to you at the right time and place,) and an “IntelligenceDatabase?” (how you store things, so that the IntelligenceSystem works.) Is there a deep parallel with Algorithms and Data Structures? I don’t know, but suspect so.

Those notions are presently absent on this wiki, so the reader just has to infer them, for now.

I intend to move the contents of WikiKM to this wiki. I read that Alex has been working on making it so you can upload pictures. I don’t know how to do it, but hope to learn soon: I’d like to move all the notes over here..! – LionKimbro


  • We should point to “solutions.”
    • (Of course, impossible to give the solution.)
  • IntelligenceFailure doesn’t mean: Heap on more information.
    • IntelligenceFailure is the result.
    • We need organization, so things are found at right time, place.
  • Moving content from WikiKM.
    • IntelligenceFailure is part of a general theory of Intelligence.
    • Waiting to learn to upload pictures, then can move everything over.

Actually, it just occurs to me that most pages don’t require pictures, so I can start already.


Another wiki ( ) mentions “the PersonalInformationDisaster?” – is this the same thing ? – DavidCary

PersonalInformationDisaster seems to be about transcription costs; How our PIMs should be communicating with web browsers and emails more fluidly. Stuff like that.

IntelligenceFailure is part of a more general theory of intelligence. Think “the CIA,” Software Development, Collaborating communities, and- yes- your personal information manager. PIM is a particular system that you can look at in terms of Intelligence Failure. – LionKimbro

"First Responders" by Bruce Schneier seems to talk about intelligence failure: “A 1996 government report said this about the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993: “Rescuing victims of the World Trade Center bombing, who were caught between floors, was hindered when police officers could not communicate with firefighters on the very next floor.”

So I’m not the only one who wants a solution to this problem :-).

Define external redirect: IntelligenceDatabase WikiGnomes IntelligenceSystem IntelligenceProcess PersonalInformationDisaster


The same page elsewhere: