Ace Data Tagging

By Roger Davies / 11 October 2014 / Data Manipulation, History, Insights, Intel Analysis

Elsewhere on the IMSL website you can see examples of OSINT datasets that we are providing clients that are already “tagged”. This saves users of systems like Palantir a huge amount of effort – tagging of OSINT data is not always an easy process, even with the very best entity extractors.  We’ll dig out the data and tag it for you,leaving you to do the fun part of the analysis.

The business of “tagging”, cataloging or indexing databases has a fascinating history and goes back hundreds of years.  I’ve blogged before about some early database systems such as the one used by Linnaeus in the 1760s but there are some other early cataloguing systems that are pretty interesting (for such a dry subject).

I think we can track an even earlier cataloguing system, that of Conrad Gessner, who developed an ambitious cataloguing of his library in the 16th century that looks like Linnaeus learned from.

After, Linnaeus, During the the French revolution, the libraries of the aristocracy were seized by revolutionaries for the state.  They created some large centralised libraries for the public, and the various seized collections of books needed recording and cataloguing.  The revolutionaries decided to create a card index system to record key data from each book such as author, title category, source,  etc , and interestingly they chose playing cards as the medium for recording these tags.    I think (but cannot prove) that the French utlised and developed the system invented by Linnaeus a few years earlier.

Playing cards of the era had a blank side and provided space for recording key detail.  Here’s an image of one:

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The French even derived a national cataloging code in 1791 to define this process. Now, there’s something interesting about using playing cards.  The key design feature of playing cards is that they fit easily in your hands. The poker player can order and sort cards in his or her hand easily.  You can play them in your hand and see the key attributes quickly.   And that ease of use is just as important when sorting traditional index cards, which are a later generations method of sorting tagged data. Any good traditional librarian will tell you the importance of holding the right number of index cards in a draw so by leaning them forwards and backwards they become easier to flick through and sort.  Any smaller or bigger and they become more tricky to sort and order.

I believe that it was the experience of this management of data that led to the use, just a few years later by Fouche of a card index based criminal database.   Between Linnaeus, the French revolutionaries and Fouche, card indexes remained in use for nearly twee centuries afterwards, all based around small index cards that fit , so importantly,  in your hand, using fingers as a sorting mechanism

Now let IMSL deal you a more modern poker hand of tagged OSINT data ready for your fingers to manipulate in Palantir.  Go all in by adding tagged OSINT data from IMSL to your proprietary data. You’d be surprised how much you can win.

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