Creating My Digital Persona

We all have goals.

I am Jason Ledford. I am pursuing a graduate certificate in Technical Writing and Digital Communication. I retired after 26 years of service. I spent 9 years in the Marine Corps and 17 years in the Georgia National Guard. I am a United States Department of Defense contractor currently employed as an Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT)Practitioner. OSINT is an intelligence discipline of collecting and providing limited analysis of publicly available information (PAI) to produce actionable intelligence. PAI is derived primarily from internet sources such as social media, peer-reviewed websites, online journals, and news reports.

OSINT Discourse Community

The reason I chose to pursue a graduate certificate in Technical Writing is to improve my chosen profession as an OSINT professional. I chose to represent the OSINT Discourse Community this semester. The OSINT community is a relatively new discipline within the intelligence community (IC). There are several OSINT websites available for use. Michael Bazzell wrote the book about OSINT and his website is located here.  Furthermore, Reddit provides a clearinghouse for practical training and discussion. As the population of professional practitioners grows, more forums and connections should become available.

 Technical Writing Persona

I established https://unlockinsightswithjasonledford.co/ through GoDaddy. I plan to continue to edit the site using Chat GPT to use key words that enable search engine optimization (SEO). I initially planned to use the site to show case my portfolio and seek out future employment. My professional goal is to work from home. Ultimately, I can use the website to contact future employers and maybe contract jobs from home. As these ideas are written down, a more holistic persona based on an existing online portfolio and persona that allows employers to reach out to me as a need arises.

What strategies will you use to build your persona’s credibility?

 The most important strategy is to produce accurate and timely products that influence clients. Intelligence is timely. The war in Ukraine showcased OSINT’s capabilities as Ukrainian civilians broadcasted images of equipment and battles in real time on social media. Russian equipment with unit designations were showcased on Twitter, Tik-Tok, and Facebook. Social media from private users acted as indicators, warnings, and the showed the front line of the Russian advance. While this information was reported to commanders overseas, corresponding reports emerged from news outlets and government websites. When collating social media, news outlets, and government websites, OSINT can provide near real time, accurate information that demonstrates an overall story.

 OSINT is not limited to a traditional battle space. Using R programming, a data analyst can demonstrate a timeline and techniques used prior to a cyber-attack. Additionally, business and market analysts can use OSINT to conduct predictive analysis to invest and predict market volatility. Furthermore, social media demonstrated that amateur investors can and do affect the stock market. Remember Game Stop? Social media influencers encouraged Reddit users to purchase shares in Game Stop. Dogecoin went up 4% in July 2023 when Elon Musk tweeted about the meme themed cryptocurrency.

Elon Musk caused Dogecoin to jump by 4% last July.
Elon promotes Dogecoin.

 Integrity is key to success. An organization should acknowledge their mistakes and shortcomings; And then present accurate information. Many internet tools provide a “translate tool” that allows a user to translate foreign languages to a native tongue. Recently, my office ran into an issue where a business overseas had the same name as six other entities. A customer found the discrepancy. We set up a video conference, made note of the error, took down the report, resubmitted the report to the customer and to the IC.

 Integrity comes from citing credible sources. The IC is an interesting community because OSINT often conflicts with classified reporting. Many times, analysts will get angry because classified reporting contradicts a report our office published. This month, a group of engineers asked us to remove a report because classified reporting showed the report to be false. However, a false open-source article is usually an indicator of a disinformation campaign. Sadaam Hussein claimed he had weapons of mass destruction because he was worried about region threats and did not believe the west would invade.

 The worrisome task today is defining a “credible source”. Deepfakes have been used in the war in Ukraine for propaganda purposes. The political divide in the US also influences “credible sources”. FOX News and CNN tailor their reporting with political bias. OSINT reporting is filled with bias because it’s written by people. The Taliban has a spokesman that posts on Twitter. Those posts were filled with bias and lies.

 Quality control assists in quality writing. I recently fired a young man because he lacked the ability to write. He believed that our Quality Control (QC) process did not accurately represent his work to the leadership within the office. We put him in a position where he reported directly to the client. The client then asked that he be taken off the contract. This employee showed up on time, contributed through data-mining information, and was a team player. He could not write competently. Quality writing helps establish credibility. An accurate, timely, but poorly written OSINT report will be thrown away without ever serving a purpose.

Jason Ledford

Jason Ledford

Augusta, Ga