Sunday, 27 March 2011

Belonging and Community

I have just read a very interesting blog by David Kovar about fragmentation of the digital forensics community:

It is a thought-provoking piece on many levels, but the idea of community has always bothered me a little within digital forensics. 

With the notable exception of www.forensicfocus, where Jamie actively welcomes newcomers - however ridiculous the questions often are - unless you are an established forensics professional is there even such thing as a community?   I have always been quite surprised at the tension between Law Enforcement/Non-Law Enforcement and even today I would argue there is quite a divide.  Does the dynamic of this split within the sector mean there will never be a true community?

I wonder if people on the inside realise how tough it is for newcomers to the area to gain any foothold into whatever community does exist.  Is it the nature of the business that makes professionals wary of new faces?

Let me illustrate this just by two of my personal experiences of being excluded or at least on the very periphery despite being a relatively high-profile recruiter in the area for the last seven years or so: 
  • I am unable to join a number of forums here in the UK such as the very popular and apparently excellent – I say apparently as being excluded makes it tricky to form a judgement.
I can think of three pretty good arguments for the exclusions:
  • The nature of the work that means that some things shouldn’t be open to the wider public with an interest in the area.  I am not a computer forensics expert so I don’t know if this is really valid.  Is it?
  • I have nothing to add to the community - well, even my close friends wouldn't argue that I add very little to any conversation!;
  •  Using a recruiter as an example isn’t ideal as I do appreciate that terrible recruiters out there who abuse forums, LinkedIn groups etc.
However, what about undergraduates who want to actively get involved in the community? Or talented professionals in other areas of IT or law who would like to move across into digital forensics but are unable to penetrate the barriers currently blocking their access to parts of the community?

Social media is changing the very concept of privacy and I wonder that if, as time progresses, we will gradually see more openness in the world of digital forensics.  Interestingly, talking of social media, since I have been active on Twitter I have become very aware that there is a relatively small, but incredibly knowledgeable and supportive digital forensics community active on that platform.  If you aren’t using twitter yet then I suggest you sign up and use the hash tag #DFIR to have a look at what this community is discussing today.  Follow me at:  @davidsulivan

Well, a cold beer with my name on awaits at the Bellagio poker room so as I disappear off into the Las Vegas evening I would, as always, welcome your comments.

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