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Has the OODA Loop Gone Mainstream and Digital? January 6, 2012

Posted by Michael in Economics, Science, Technology.

Our economy may be going through yet another fundamental change, from the Information Economy to the Feedback Economy.  Forbes thought the idea was buzzworthy enough to reprint the article linked below.  The concept begins with the familiar paradigm of the OODA loop used by fighter pilots.

Military strategist John Boyd spent a lot of time understanding how to win battles. Building on his experience as a fighter pilot, he broke down the process of observing and reacting into something called an Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act (OODA) loop. Combat, he realized, consisted of observing your circumstances, orienting yourself to your enemy’s way of thinking and your environment, deciding on a course of action, and then acting on it.


The most important part of this loop isn’t included in the OODA acronym, however. It’s the fact that it’s a loop. The results of earlier actions feed back into later, hopefully wiser, ones. Over time, the fighter “gets inside” their opponent’s loop, outsmarting and outmaneuvering them. The system learns.

According to the author, this “system learning” is now becoming digitized for everyone by communications infrastructure, massive platforms, data mining and machine learning, all linked to human experience.

We’re drowning in data. Bits are faster than atoms. Our jungle-surplus wetware can’t keep up. At least, not without Boyd’s help. In a society where every person, tethered to their smartphone, is both a sensor and an end node, we need better ways to observe and orient, whether we’re at home or at work, solving the world’s problems or planning a play date. And we need to be constantly deciding, acting, and experimenting, feeding what we learn back into future behavior.

We’re entering a feedback economy.

You can read the whole thing here:  The feedback economy – O’Reilly Radar.  It’s an interesting perspective, and not overly technical.  However, the article gives only cursory consideration to the delicate legal and privacy issues associated with data collection, mining and machine learning.

A cautionary perspective is posted below the break.


1. Retired Geezer - January 6, 2012

I’m all about the OODA loop, it’s Genius.

The only thing I found offputting (about ‘the Feedback Economy’) is that the author, Clay Johnson, who was in charge of Obama’s online campaign, is pretty Liberal. Seems like it would be pretty biased, in the Huph-poo direction.

2. Michael - January 6, 2012

Clay Johnson was not the author of the article linked above.

3. Retired Geezer - January 6, 2012

Well then.

Right again, Batman.

I went farther into the link and came up with Clay Johnson, the author of Information Diet.

Mea Culpa.

4. xbradtc - January 7, 2012

I loaned Hugh Hewitt my copy of John Boyd’s biography, and that fucker never returned it.

5. Building an Inter-Generational Knowledge Transfer system…(what technologies and tools are needed)… | Docandersen’s Blog - June 20, 2016

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