Collecting the Dots: Problem Formulation and Solution Elements by Martin C. Libicki and Shari Lawrence Pfleeger, RAND Corporation

Across a wide variety of endeavors—from homeland security to foreign intelligence, criminal investigation, public health, and system safety—failure to anticipate disaster has been ascribed to the inability to “connect the dots.” This paper argues that to “connect the dots,” one must first “collect the dots.” All too often, the inability to foresee trouble has come about because pieces of information sit in this or that head. Were they combined, trouble would be easier to foresee,
but when each stands alone, no compelling conclusions suggest themselves. This paper investigates some of the barriers to circulating telltale information and describes some approaches—institutional, social, and technological—that would begin to bring information together in a meaningful way.

The prevailing view in the intelligence and public safety communities is that forestalling major threats such as terrorist attacks or epidemics requires weaving together disconnected pieces of information to reveal broader patterns; in more common terms, we call this “connecting the dots.” In this paper, we argue that connecting the dots is less likely to happen unless one takes a prior step: “collecting the dots,” that is, bringing scattered pieces of information into some proximity to each other to enable pattern recognition. This paper is intended to help decisionmakers understand the dimensions of solving the problem of “collecting the dots.” Any solution involves identifying what information is important and improving its circulation within communities that are in a position to connect the dots so collected. The paper describes organizational and informational barriers to “collecting the dots” and explores the characteristics of potential solutions to overcoming them.

The Secrets of Economic Indicators by Bernard Baumohl

"Whether you're tracking pop culture, high fashion or health care, all things are connected, and economics is the tie that binds them all. For those who need to know more about economic trends and for those who haven't the skills or background in the field, Mr. Baumohl's book is the real deal. He miraculously breathes life into economic indicators and statistics." - The Wall Street Journal, November 22, 2005:

"Baumohl, a former economics reporter for Time magazine, has written a tremendously useful source on economic indicators. Baumohl considers a variety of factors when describing each indicator, such as what exactly it measures, how it is computed, where to find the relevant report on the web, the day and time this report is released, the source of the information, and how often the information is revised. He also discusses the market impact of these indicators on bonds, stocks, and currency. Bottom Line: Although this book is marketed as a tool for investors and is not organized like a typical reference book, it belongs in the reference collection because it explains so clearly what the various economic indicators are and how to locate data about them. Recommended for all libraries. " —Stacey Marien, American Univ. Lib., Washington, DC

Technical Analysis of Financial Markets by John Murphy

Economist Intelligence Unit