Research vs Open Source Intelligence

Research vs Open Source Intelligence

Open source intelligence, also known as OSINT, is intelligence that has been collected from public sources. In order for this definition to give you a true understanding of the subject, I find it necessary that we also define “open”, “intelligence” and “public”. Although, at first glance, you would think you already know the definition of these simple words, the fact of the matter is that we live in a much more complicated world now than when dictionaries started giving the definition of these words.

The word “open” is possibly the easiest to define. For our use, the word refers to public or overt, allowing access, exposed, allowing admittance.

The word “intelligence” as used in this manual refers to the collection of information and acquiring the ability to act on this information. It’s not really hard to understand but just to make sure we all start on the same page, “intelligence” is not about being smart, it is not about gathering information – it is about allowing yourself to be exposed to information gathered on a certain topic and then being able to use your human judgement, experience and even your gut feelings to determine an appropriate action to reach an outcome defined at the outset of the intelligence gathering.

Sources of open source intelligence can include newspapers, radio, television, magazines and other media sources. Computer-based information such as social networking sites, video sites, wikis, blogs, forums and such are also sources for open source intelligence which is what we cover in this manual.

Public data sources include government reports, legislative records, speeches, awards, meeting announcements and so forth. Historical information herein was obtained from research of geological records of the Alabama Geological Survey, the U. S. Bureau of Mines, the U.S. Geological Survey and similar documents. Prior work by Thomas A. Simpson, Thornton L. Neathery and George I. Adams is acknowledged and links to their works will be found in Additional Resources.

Research is different from open source intelligence. Research is the gathering – open source intelligence (OSINT) is the process of using the gathered information to educate oneself on a specific item in order to reach a specific decision.

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