The Improvement of Communication within the World System
Research uses, applications and possibilities of a computer-based information
centre on national and international organizations and related entities
- / -
Orignally published as UIA Study Papers INF/2, September 1969
Data bank proposed
Comments on other possible entities
-- Correlation of organization characteristics
-- Factor analyses
-- Input/Output analyses
-- Information flows
-- Systems analysis
-- Interactive graphic displays
-- Decision-making research
-- International treaty research
Economics of interactive graphics and the future
Study and display of organizational networks
-- Flowchart representation of world system
-- Network representation of world system
-- Response curves and textual display
Communication and education research
Systems and hardware requirements
| 1 Comprehensive grouping of organizational features
of world system
-- 1a Detailed key to Fig. 1
-- 1b Unbalanced research coverage of the world system and sub-systems
2 Analysis of inter-entity networks
-- Network theory and citation indexing
-- Extension to other entities (criticism of the SATCOM report)
-- Network approach and systems approach
-- Multi-network theory development problems
-- 2a General and special properties of systems problems
-- 2b Dimensions of communication breakdown
3 Methods of displaying data stored in the computer
-- 3A Design of a computer-produced organization chart
-- 3B Computer printout of key to Fig. 3A
-- 3C Examples of possible indexes to Fig. 3A and 3B
-- 3D 2-Dimensional displays of inter-organizational links
-- 3E Example of a 3-dimensional structure displayed on a terminal
-- 3F Example of a 2-dimensional inter-organization chart
-- 3G 3-Dimensional display of use of development aid funds
-- 3H 2-Dimensional display to examine an information network
-- 3J 3-Dimensional display of interdisciplinary contact patterns
-- 3K 3-Dimensional display of international treaty patterns
-- 3L Example of a user-oriented display
-- 3M Example of graphical presentation and analysis of flowcharts
-- 3N Example of possible visual display terminal user controls
-- 3P Example of 2-dimensional display to track organization formation
4 Computer privacy
The need for a general data base as an aid to the investigation of organization
within the world system has reached the stage at which the existing comprehensive
and specialized directories and single purpose surveys are no longer adequate.
The equipment currently available and the technological developments promised
for the next five to ten years suggest that the possibilities of a sophisticated
storage and retrieval system on organizations throughout the world and their
interactions should be investigated.
This note identifies some of the uses and possibilities of such a data bank
in terms of the probable interests of research workers in the fields of political,
social, information and management science and associated disciplines. The
applications stressed are those which appear to be important to the control
of change within the world system.
An important reason for establishing such a data bank is the tendency to consider
the recognized complexity of the world system to be too great to permit any
form of unified treatment. Such a view would be encouraged if it proved impossible
to represent in a sophisticated model all the entities in the world system and
their many types of interaction. Computer display techniques and processing
ability are the only means of rapidly conveying a conceptual understanding
of the many interactions within the system as a whole. Normal instruction methods,
in the case of such complexity, cross so many discipline boundaries that they
lend themselves to over-emphasize of one particular feature of the system at
the expense of others and an integrated picture of the whole.
Research workers in this field are faced with a situation in which the equipment
they need is available and will become increasingly accessible and cheap
to use, whereas the relevant data and the techniques required have not been
brought together. The practical applications arising from the use of sophisticated
research techniques in the study of the world system have therefore received
little attention. A note of urgency is introduced into this situation in three
- - the formats and programme specifications of a number of international
information systems, particularly those in the United Nations and Specialized
Agencies, are under study at the moment. It is probable that a number of
specialized information systems will be proposed and planned over the
next few years. Research techniques with important practical applications
cannot be envisaged in such systems since they have not yet been developed
despite the fact that such systems will collect and store much of' the necessary
data on sophisticated processing equipment which could permit many valuable
analyses. Once such systems are specified and formats are frozen, there is
likely to be considerable resistance to any subsequent changes which would
permit more sophisticated analyses once the techniques have been developed.
- - the United Nations and the Specialized Agencies are an important group
of focal bodies for coordination of the world system. The following comment
was made in a report submitted by the United States Member of the United Nations
Ecosoc Enlarged Committee for Programme and Coordination ('Development
of modern management techniques and use of computers' E/AC.51/ GR/L.9,
7 October 1968): '...It has become more and more difficult for any individual,
whether in government service or in an international secretariat, to be aware
of the totality of the United Nations family programme and activities. This
in turn complicates the process of coordination, makes overlapping and duplication
more likely. . . 'For lack of a clear picture of the many interacting
sub-systems within the world system as a whole - which can only be supplied
and communicated as a result of multi-disciplinary research - the solutions
currently envisaged by the UN are to be specifically based on its own internal
organizational problems, despite acknowledgement of the vital role of some
- - the need for sophisticated research techniques is illustrated by the following
quote from the introduction to a 1968 management conference session of the
College of Management Control Systems (The Institute of Management Sciences).
'Evidence is mounting that the environment which managers seek to control
-- or, at least, to guide or restrain -- is increasing in turbulence and complexity
at a rate that far exceeds the capacity of management researchers to provide
new and improved methodologies to affect management's intentions. Faced with
the consequences of force-fed technological change, and the concomitant changes
in the social, political, psychological, and theological spheres, there is
real danger that the process by which new concepts of management control are
invented and developed may itself be out of control relative to the demands
that are likely to be imposed upon it .'
Data bank proposed
The data bank would be built up in stages in computer memory, both in coverage
(international organizations through to national organizations and important
local organizations) and detail (minimum name and address data through to extensive
coding of each entity) . Initial objectives would be the codification of international
organizations (3,000), their national corporate members (30,000) and other important
national organizations (20,000 - 70,000). The subcommittees and other
bodies with a certain degree of independence within a complex parent organization
would also be included. Priority would be given to governmental and non-governmental,
non-profit organizations. Other entities important to an understanding
of the operation of the world system are meetings, treaties, working programmes
(which may be independent of any particular organization), information systems
(abstracts, bibliographies), major journals, etc. These would be included in
stages depending on user demand and the availability of funds.
The development of the data bank would therefore be flexible. The codification
of entities would be arranged so that a greater amount of descriptive coding
could be linked to the more significant entities. The difference between types
of organization or entity would not be stressed, since whatever definitions
are used, different types blend into one another. Accepted distinctions
would be possible but would not distort the file structure.
An important feature of the data bank would be the possibility of analyzing
parts of the system represented by the bank information as topological networks
(1) . Such networks are completely specified by the types of entity and their
interconnections. Examples of such networks which are currently analyzed with
the aid of computers are electrical circuits, programme flow charts and logic
diagrams. The nodes of such a network would in this case be organizations of
any kind (commission, meetings, programmes, information systems, etc). The interconnections
or links would be divided into input and output interactions (funds, information,
membership, etc.). The file would be structured so that a form of input/output
analysis could be undertaken in terms of a variety of variables. This type of
analysis would permit, for example, determination of weak points in the network,
communication gaps and blockages, overlap and duplication and lack of coordination.
possibility, currently employed as an aid to the analysis of such networks,
is the display of a part of the network on a television-type screen. This
gives a much clearer visual impression of the network and permits direct interaction
via the screen with the computer.
In order to provide
a source of finance and to ensure that the data bank is also of immediate practical
value, it would be used by organizations for distribution of questionnaires,
publication publicity materiel, meeting invitations, etc. This should help to
ensure that the data bank is constantly updated and may provide a link through
which development research techniques can be rapidly implemented.
factors guided decisions on the design of the file:
1. The file structure
should nit stress unnecessarily the difference between types of organization
(or links between organizations) since, whatever definitions are used,
different 'types blend into one another on some dimensions whilst being distinct
on others. Similarities between types may be greater than differences. Accepted
and conventional distinctions should be possible but should not distort the
file structure. This is the only possible means of making the file useful to a wide variety of researchers
and decision-makers interested in the functions performed by overlapping
classes of organization. (see Fig. 1, 1a, 1b)
2. A sequential
file of data on organizations is completely insufficient in terms of present
and expected future demands for information. The file must therefore provide
means of showing the links between organizations. This form of cross-referencing
within the file is the first step towards representing a variety of 'flows'
between organizations. (see Fig. 2)
3. A network
file structure can therefore be conceived as made up of nodes and links. The
nodes can be organizational entities of any kind, programmes independent of
any particular organization, treaties, meetings, etc. The links, whether input
or output, are the channels along which the node receives (or transmits) information,
funds, non-financial aid, recommendations, etc. Such links may also represent
the membership relationship of 'members' of the node. Links in this general
sense can also represent consultative, collaborative, informal and other relationships
4. The network
file structure should facilitate use of an adaptation of the network and input/output
analysis techniques employed in operational research and analysis of electrical
networks. Since these techniques have not yet been adapted to this use, the
consequences for the file design are simply to separate, to the extent possible,
coding relating to node characteristics (static) from those relating to link
performance (frequency, volume, type). Provision should be made for the inclusion
of coding which would reflect the maximum number of dimensions along which communication
and collaboration can break down.
of this type of approach is to maximize the possibility of constructing models
which would be partly quantitative and predictive as suggested by Karl Deutsch
(Nerves of Government, pp. 126-7):
'A part of this development would be the application of cybernetic concepts
to the system, making larger and more explicit use of time variables as well
as of probabilistic and statistical considerations. This would mean, among
other things, the measurement or estimation of the extent and probable distribution
of imbalance in the transaction flows, of the corresponding loads upon the
equilibrating or adjusting mechanisms in the subsystems; of the lags, gains,
and leads in their responses; and hence of the probable stability and future
states of the entire system and its parts.'
with the long-term requirement of systematic network analysis is the simpler
requirement that the file structure should facilitate detection of weaknesses
(as defined by the user) in coordination or communication between organizations
concerned with the same or related problem areas, in order that such bodies
could be notified of each others activities.
6. Aside from
the problem of distinctions between organizations based on conventional definitions
of formal organization types, similar problems arise in attempting to distinguish
between permanent bodies and temporary bodies, and between independent and dependent
or internal bodies (within an organizational structure).
A temporary structure
such as an independent meeting or a programme may be considered to have an important
integrative effect starting from the time it is proposed (and perhaps are called
for) to the time the report or recommendations are finally available as a stimulus
to further effort. The complete cycle may in some cases be up to 10 years
or more. This exceeds the life of many formally constituted 'permanent bodies'.
In addition, the borderline between a meeting and an organization, particularly
if the meeting forms part of a series and has an informal continuing committee,
can only be arbitrarily established .
In the case of independent and dependent bodies, it was again decided that,
whatever the degree of autonomy, the file structure should permit, if necessary,
treatment of the entity in question as a node in the network. This avoids the
unsatisfactory procedure of pre-establishing the sub-system boundaries
and thus predetermining what is system-external and what is system-internal.
The location of sub-system boundaries may itself be an important research
objective. In addition, this draws attention to the fact that although communication
and coordination between an outside organization and some subsidiary body may
be eminently satisfactory, there is no guarantee that the relationship between
the central body and the subsidiary body is satisfactory. A sub-sub-system
of sub-system A may be affected by a sub-system B without sub-system
A as a whole being significantly affected. This has many important consequences.
7. A consequence of the decision not to restrict attention to particular
types of organization, is that arbitrary definitions of 'international', 'national'
, 'regional', 'local', or 'governmental', 'non-governmental', 'commercial'
, etc. are avoided. This permits a researcher to establish his own definitions
of such sub-systems with a maximum amount of flexibility.
This is in line
with the conclusions of Andrew M. Scott (The Functioning of the International
Political System) that the nation-states are no longer the only significant
actors on the international political scene. The file design should facilitate
the systems approach suggested, by him which would 'help overcome the sharp
separation between domestic affairs and international politics, because it operates
equally well at either level and can move between the two.'
8. Most information systems are designed as means of speeding
up the processing, storage and retrieval of documents. Because of the high
volumes involved such systems are very costly and where they are less costly,
this is only achieved by a considerable degree of specialization in order to
reduce the volume. To avoid this dilemma end yet optimize information on the
world system as a whole, it was decided to concentrate on the producers of information
rather than the information produced in document form.
The information producing and processing points in the world system are organizations
of one kind or another. These represent the points at which decisions and control
activity regarding the production of information occurs. A focus on such points
therefore maximizes the possibility of obtaining a clear, overall picture of
the world system. Such a picture is an essential basis for management type
decisions concerning the allocation of resources.
information system requires information on bodies controlling, evaluating, formulating,
and implementing programmes, and coordinating memberships (in the broadest sense),
relationships and information networks linking them to problem areas.
It is therefore
focused on the coordination achieved and necessary for current and planned or
proposed activities. A documentation information system concentrates on the
information produced when it eventually appears in published form.
The first is focused on the initiating points for present
and future activity whilst the second is focused on the published record, if
any, of past activity. The fact that one organization can coordinate the production
of many documents in the context of one programme, is an indication of the volume
of information in each case, the scale of the problem in each case, and the
cost of each type of system. Most important though, is that it illustrates
the relatively much higher value of information on the current programmes of
between these extremes, is information on sources of information produced in
document form (e.g. bibliographies of bibliographies, directories of periodicals,
etc.) which can be incorporated in a management information system, since it
represents the key to information collecting points and systems in a particular
problem area. Such information is of relatively much higher value if it is produced
regularly within a series rather than as a one-off publication.
The file structure
is therefore deliberately not orientated toward the solution of the documentation
problem and the associated "information explosion". Such solutions imply the
retrievability within a 'reasonable' period of time of an optimum number of
past relevant documents on a subject. A management information system implies
the immediate availability of information on all currently active bodies, programmes
and information networks within the world system. It can, to some extent, predict
future document production.
on the management approach is based on the view that even if a document information
system can provide an optimum selection of relevant material on a problem, this
does not facilitate the solution to many important subsequent problems. Specifically:
- decision-makers are increasingly in a position in which they can
no longer afford the time to wait for libraries and information centres to
complete the documentation retrieval cycle. Having received a pile of documents,
they are no longer in a position to read and assimilate all the information
Not only does the time factor come into play, but also the problem for the
decision-maker of determining the relevance of analytical results based
on the techniques and assumptions of disciplines with which he is not familiar.
If they are 'foreign' to him, his inclination to use them will be low, even
if he studies the results in detail. This is a major problem in the utilization
of research implications for policy formulation.
- a request for documents is specific. The documents received are the answer
to the request. They do not automatically supply an operational context for
the problem area in question, particularly where it may cross specialist or
jurisdictional boundaries . The documentation information system is 'blind'
to this approach, particularly when set up within a specialist organization
with an accession profile designed to minimize acquisition of material from
other fields. The more general the request, the more material supplied which
must be interpreted, restructured and assimilated.
- the response of a documentation information. system is a response from
the past and cannot take into account current developments (even the lag between
production and publication of a journal article may be several years).
- a documentation system is not dynamic. It cannot permit analyses which
could signal probable problem areas. The decision-maker is therefore
dependent on historical reports to detect a problem, unless it has reached
crisis level and been reported through not documentary channels across the
accepted jurisdictional boundaries.
A major requirement for a management information is that it be highly structured,
eliminate non-significant data in order to highlight problem areas and
areas requiring decisions. It should also relate a problem area to associated
problem areas across discipline and jurisdictional boundaries. It should indicate
the location of resources and the channels through which they could advantageously
be moved. An attempt should therefore be made in designing the file structure
to facilitate the development of techniques of this kind.
9. Another approach
to the analysis of the world system is through the use of political and social
indicators based on statistical analysis of the relationship between key variables
in a manner analogous to that used for economic indicators. Major difficulties
associated with this approach are cost, comparability of data collected in different
countries and ensuring regular updating .
provides indications of conditions of clearly defined classes either by national,
regional or local averages. It does not tie these conditions directly to the
organizational structures within society by which they can be modified and tends
to gloss over the structure of sub-systems and communication within kind
between them. Thus although primary problems can be detected, the detection
of secondary problems is not facilitated e.g. the structural weaknesses which
obstruct the effective recognition of, or implementation of solutions to primary
problems (nor does it facilitate the detection of structural strengths by which
solutions can be speeded up) .
The greater the
emphasis placed on structural elements within the world system and dynamic relationships
between them, the greater should be the practical value of the file when set
up. The incorporation of general political and social indicators was therefore
envisaged but only as a part of the node or link description coding.
10. The file
design should not be an attempt at model building but should rather provide
the elements from which a wide variety of partial or general models could be
built. It should be left to the researcher to define the classes into which
he wishes to group entities for model building purposes.
of this approach is that an attempt is made to include as many different types
of entity as can be detected. The researcher is therefore forced to explicitly
exclude certain types of entity when building partial models, rather than merely
neglect certain types of entity because their significance has not been brought
to his attention.
factors governing the design arise because of the practical problems of implementing
and maintaining the system. These are:
- flexibility of development. It would be impractical to introduce a large
amount of data before making use of the system. The file should therefore
make provision for build-up
- a) in number of entities included over time
- b) in detail included about entities
- c) new types of detail not envisaged at the time when the file structure
- This permits the file to be extended in response to demand and as funds
become available without any need to follow a predetermined order of development.
The stored information should be of optimum utility at each stage in order
that it should immediately justify funds allocated to the project.
- initial focus on the international system. Since the network of international
organizations and related entities supplies a basic structure for the world
system, the file should be developed down from international organizations,
through their national members and then include other national entities and
local bodies of great significance. In this way the file would be focused
on the most 'coordinative' entities of the world system, at each stage.
- low priority for commercial bodies. Since commercial organizations are
very well documented and have already been incorporated into many sophisticated
information systems, it should not be necessary to include them initially.
Exceptions to this would be multinational enterprises and their national subsidiaries,
together with research institutes set up for commercial purposes. The file
organization should not however preclude incorporation of profit-making bodies
as such, in those cases where they are considered to be of interest.
- mailing list preparation. To provide a source of funds, as well as to facilitate
file maintenance, it was considered necessary to design the file in such a
way that names and addresses of organizations could be conveniently listed
in a flexible manner for mailing, survey questionnaires and directory preparation
purposes. Unless the system is used a great deal in this way, insufficient
mail returns are received to feed back corrections and keep the system up
to date, and therefore of continuing value.
- It is only by being in a position to supply mailing list information that
the system can make practical use of research techniques developed to detect
unnecessary communication and coordination gaps and their effects on programme
implementation. Following on from this, the greater the extent to which the
mailing list use of the system can be facilitated, the greater should be the
value of it to those organizations included which are faced with communication
and coordination problems.
- receptiveness to data in a wide variety of formats. In order to maximize
the value of the system to different research groups and to increase the detail
included on entities, the file should be able to incorporate survey data on
entities and links from many sources without any need to completely restructure
and recode the data.
- new computer input/output techniques. Since the system would be developed
over a period during which remote and/or visual display terminals will become
increasingly accessible and low in cost, it is necessary to minimize the
difficulties in making use of these devices for retrieval and display of
information. Use of visual display devices in particular, should considerably
facilitate attempts to represent the operation of the world system, both in
general and at a detailed level, from the static (structural) point of view
and from the dynamic aspect (inter-entity flows, proposed structural
the file organization had to be kept reasonably simple to facilitate input and
The most important
factor implicit in many of the points above is the generality of the required
file design. Because of its generality, the system should be of value to a wide
variety of cross-category queries and permits the construction of models
of the world system as a whole. The difficulty inherent in optimizing a general
design (aside from that of locating financial support) is illustrated by a quote
from Bertram M. Gross (The State of the Nation, p. 138) on the preparation
of general social indicators:
'Most proponents of new indicators, however, are mainly interested in
some special category of data -- say, educators in educational
indicators, psychiatrists in mental health data, sociologists in information
on stratification and mobility, political scientists in voting behavior and
political attitudes. Activists in all fields are interested in new information
that will help to vindicate their position or indict the opposition. . . .
Only a small minority of proponents -- whether on the producing
or the using side -- are interested in enough new indicators to
provide comprehensive social systems accounting.'
The file will permit the inclusion of the following types
of organizational entity. It is however highly probable that the different groups
will be given different levels of priority, approximately that of the order
here. Individual entities from low priority groups could of course be included
at any time if necessary. The groups are based on conventional categories, but
the file organization will of course permit much more flexibility in selecting
- international governmental organizations
- organizations of international non-governmental non-profit organizations
- international non-governmental non-profit organizations
- regional international organizations
- international meeting series
- multinational business enterprises
- commissions and sub-commissions of international organizations (particularly
where they may have independent fields of activity, names which may create
the impression that they are unconnected with the parent body; also cases
where the links between the secondary body and its parent may be of significance
to an understanding of the operation of the parent body or the mechanism by
which a particular problem is dealt with)
- organizations of national non-governmental, non-profit organizations
as the major coordinative bodies for non-profit activity
- libraries and information centres
- national organizations (governmental and non-governmental) with international
programmes or interests
- significant state or local organizations with international programmes or
interests (particularly where such organizations are important to the implementation
of international programmes and where they are the only ones of their type
in the country (or the world) and may therefore be considered of international
significance. Such organizations may also represent the major source of potential
membership of international non-governmental organizations, or in the
case of governmental bodies, far the implementation of international recommendations)
- bilateral international organizations
- international programmes, projects, 'days', etc.(particularly
where these are independent of any individual organization or have names which
create the impression that they are organizations or independent; also cases
where collaboration of organizations through the programme is of importance
to an understanding of the mechanism by which a particular problem is dealt
- international treaties and agreements (particularly where these take over
the normative functions of organizations or are the principal reason for the
existence of an organization)
- international journals, directories, abstracting or bibliographical services
(particularly where these in effect take over the information processing and
disseminating function of international organizations or are the principal
reason for the existence of a particular organization or are in effect the
most important coordinative structure in that field)
- individuals holding positions in international organizations
- international roles or positions (particularly where the positions held
by one individual are such that he himself performs an important integrating
function in linking organizations (e.g. cross-linking directorships
in business enterprises, or individuals holding positions in government and
in non-governmental organizations)
Clearly there are many similar types of entity at the national level which
could be included if this was considered justified. The emphasis above has
been placed on the geographical coordinating function of entities. Equal
emphasis could be placed on cross-disciplinary or cross-jurisdictional
coordinating functions, and priorities could be allocated accordingly.
The concept of
entity is sufficiently general to permit inclusion of other types of entity
if necessary. Possibilities are considered in the next section.
Comments on other possibilities
The purpose of
considering other possible entities is to arrive at greater facility in identifying
and describing parts of the world system.
Sub-Systems and Classes of Entities
Sub-systems may conventionally be identified by name (e.g. international
NGOs, the American banking system, etc.). Descriptive coding can be supplied,
as can keyword coding. The actual entities which make up (i.e. are "members")
of the sub-system can be clearly defined, individually or as classes and
thus cut down access time. Such cards would be a useful means of avoiding
analysis. A library of sub-system cards could be built up as a result
of each analysis of the file as a whole. Each sub-system would be defined
according to the special definitions used by the investigator. The result might
be that of a series of overlapping classes which had together employed definitions
which effectively excluded some specific entities registered within the file.
This in itself would be useful.
In some cases
the sub-systems would in fact represent a non-existent umbrella
how the systems were defined, it could be useful to include 'black box'
system cards known to be important parts of the system with known inputs and
outputs, but about which it was impossible to provide any description with certainty.
Religions, Armies, Tribes and Clans
The manner in
which the system is conceived does not preclude treatment of these as entities.
Their hierarchical structure and cross-links to other entities could easily
Movements of Opinion and Informal Organizations
Since a structure
can be identified for informal organizations and, using classes of entities,
movements of opinion, there is no reason why these important features of the
world system should not be included, if this was considered necessary.
Information and Communication Systems or Networks
may be independent of any particular organization and may therefore be considered
to be important integrating factors in their own right. They possess a well-defined
structure and may therefore be included if necessary.
Where a decision
is taken as the result of the deliberations and activities of a wide range of
organizations not necessarily formally linked, it would be an advantage to
treat the decision as a type of entity in its own right. The organizations
which participate in the decision-making process may then be treated as
'members' of this entity.
As a detail of
an organizational structure, cards of this type could be used to indicate the
inputs and outputs to decision centres.
At some stage,
it would be an advantage to store propositions concerning the functioning of
the world system and its sub-systems. They could be filed at any stage
of verification, so that apparently contradictory propositions could exist together.
Each would have its status changed as it moved towards acceptance or rejection.
The value of
including propositions once the file is used for simulation and decision-making
is to offer the user a choice of relationships governing a field in which he
is interested, plus all the necessary qualifications. A proposition verified
for a limited set of cases could be drawn to the users attention as a possible
guide for a decision in his unexplored area.
It would be useful
to express propositions concerning flows or restriction on flows between entities
or classes of entities as simple mathematical functions. In fact it is probably
only propositions which can be so expressed which could be usefully included.
data from a variety of sources will clearly lead to a situation where two or
more sources of different standpoint will disagree. This disagreement is itself
a feature of the system and important to an understanding of its operation.
Provided a critic
card follows the same format as the card of data criticized, either may be chosen,
or the two compared to establish the degree of dissonance. An example would
be a comparison between stated objectives and some evaluation of the 'real'
objectives, or of what is really being achieved.
Consideration has been given to means of coding problem areas, as distinct
from subject or field of interest areas. An organization can be concerned with
a field of interest selected from some sort of representation of the totality
of possible fields of interest and ordered into classes and sub-classes. It
would be useful to develop a structure of problems with which entities can be
concerned. In effect this is an ordered collection of ways in which any entity
and in particular, (by extension) the world system, can malfunction .
This problem thesaurus could be used as a qualifier on field of interest coding
to indicate in what way the field is of interest or is a matter of concern,
thus clarifying the objectives, and activities of the organization. Alternatively,
problem areas could be treated as entities with a 'membership" corresponding
to those bodies concerned with them.
In the first
case a valuable predictive tool would be created. For if analysis shows that
a number of organizations are concerned with a limited number of problems within
a particular problem area, it will bring out those aspects with which no organization
is concerned and concerning which data should be obtained, even if only as a
check. In this way a systematic picture could be built up of what might go wrong
in the future, or might be wrong, but be undetectable because nobody employs
the conceptual categories necessary to detect the problem, possibly because
it is interdisciplinary.
Presumably such a problem hierarchy would at its mare abstract end include
the vague concepts included in organization objectives, about which it is possible
to enthuse e.g. cooperation, well-being, etc. At its more detailed level,
it would include statistics of the problem as measured. It is the intermediate
levels which would prove of value as a guide to decision-making.
of this approach is that no generally accepted and highly developed problem
thesaurus exists. Insufficient is known about system malfunction in the most
general sense. Even 'problem' does not seem to be very well defined in the system
sense. (see Fig. 2b)
The second approach
is simpler but more closely related to the field of interest coding. The problem
area could be treated as an entity with a membership. Related problem areas
could be linked using the inter-entity link cards. Because this is an
associative type of coding, no predictive feature is available, but it does
increase the ability to evaluate the degree of coordinated response to a problem
If fields of
interest were coded as entities, then problem area coding would blend into field
of interest coding. A field of interest could then be considered as a problem
area in a broader sense.
'The link between an organization (say) and a problem area is then that the
organization is set up because the problem there is considered critical. Organizations
could then be considered as society's response to a problem area. An organization
may express concern (general interest) about certain symptoms, but consider
that an indirect approach was necessary. The problem area attached may therefore
not be identical with the symptoms of concern.
is that an attempt is made to distinguish between ways in which an organization
is concerned about a subject area and how that subject area is defined as a
problem and how it is proposed to attack that problem. This sort of qualification
on field of interest coding would avoid superficial analysis identifying duplication
when the two bodies were concerned about the same area in different ways.
It would also highlight those cases where an organization is apparently the
authority in a certain field of interest but in fact is only responsible for
certain aspects of that field of interests.
This sort of
problem area approach would help to take the emphasis off documentation about
a field of interest and place it on the way in which that field of interest
constitutes a problem and what needs to be done about it.
Research uses (see Fig. 3)
workers and the data bank over a period of time should ensure that increasingly
precise techniques of coding and processing the entities and their
interactions are developed and incorporated wherever possible. The fact that
the entities described are real and not artificially generated should lead to
research techniques and models or conclusions which would prove of immediate
could use the data for:
- sequential statistical analyses of organizations
- simulation data base by copying sections of the file
- experiments on the representation of parts of the world system structure
by modifying entities and their interactions -- particularly in an interactive
graphic mode using a 'light pencil' and television-type display
- development of new techniques for analyzing the system of organizations
represented by the data base
- development of practical applications in the field of decision-making,
particularly as a possible aid in meetings for planning purposes
- development of practical applications in the field of education
Use of the data
bank for contact purposes, particularly if it is constantly updated with future
meeting and proposed programme data, would in itself be of great value to research
workers attempting to establish and maintain contacts with all bodies operating
in their particular field of interest. One application envisaged is the use
of the data bank to assist in the distribution of meeting results .
It is not possible
to present the various research uses of the proposed data bank in clear categories
by discipline. The many factors to be taken into account in the analysis of
the world system interact across individual discipline boundaries. In addition,
the research interest may be in the development of an analytical technique,
in the practical application of a technique, in the creation, manipulation
and analysis of models, in the summarization of data to give an adequate picture,
or in the adaptation of theoretical techniques to the restrictions and communicative
powers of a display unit.
problem areas may combine any of the above needs for research, depending on
the state of development of the theoretical techniques, the adaptation to the
equipment available and the restriction imposed by the context in which the
new techniques could be of practical value.
Correlations between Organization Characteristics and Interaction Variables
This has been
the main area of quantitative research. The data bank should considerably facilitate
the conduct of preliminary and general inquiries by providing most of the useful
basic quantitative information on organizations. This should prove of great
assistance in narrowing down the area of research and clarifying the problem
and the number of questions that need to be asked of organizations. It is important
to recognize the disadvantages of over-questioning under-staffed organizations.
The data bank would also facilitate the mechanical process of preparing the
necessary questionnaire envelope labels. Under present circumstances the address
location problem which this facility would overcome, is in itself a very important
hindrance to research. The key question here is the minimum and optimum number
of characteristics that must be coded on each type of organization (important
and less important) now and in the foreseeable future, bearing in mind the possibility
of flexible extension of the coding on each organization. Feedback on this point
would be of great assistance and is probably essential to the adequate design
of the system.
It is intended
to avoid, as far as possible, freezing any descriptions of organizations according
to currently favoured definitions. Provision would be made to permit analysis
in terms of such definitions if necessary. Coding should, however, permit analysis
to determine to what extent a particular combination of characteristics chosen
at the time of research is a valid or adequate definition of a class of organization
or interactions in any subject or geographical area. This is particularly important
in order to facilitate adequate analysis of types of organizations which fall
in the gray areas between the boundaries of accepted definitions. Clearly this
lends itself to the use of the factor analysis technique.
adequate definitions of organizations should lead to the development of a form
of input/output analysis of organizational systems. This could be based on the
flow of information but techniques could be developed, with the aid of the data
bank, to extend this to measurable characteristics representing less easily
quantifiable flows such as policy implementation, finance, membership support,
etc. Such techniques could be used in conjunction with factorial analysis which
should reduce the delays in arriving at adequate models. In order to achieve
this satisfactorily in the face of the practical problem of limited, inadequate
or excessive amounts of information on organizations, statistical techniques
would need to be developed to supply probable values in the case of limited
information and to summarize excessive amounts of information where this cannot
be stored permanently.
The investigation and development of such techniques, assisted by the data
bank, could hopefully lead to a useful method of specifying typical response
curves for different types of organizations considered as nodes in a topological
network. Such a technique would provide guidance in the management problem
of optimizing organizational structure and interaction and of portraying the
system in a more meaningful and dynamic manner.
coding possibility would permit the analysis of the world system in terms of
the flow of information along channels represented by information systems and
other forms of contact between organizations. The results of such analyses should
bring out the position, characteristics and weaknesses of information channels,
storage, retrieval and processing points. An understanding of the world information
system and ways of improving it could prove very useful in isolating factors
contributing to the creation or maintenance of conflict.
An adequate analysis of information flows would provide an essential basis
for recommendations for the creation of new bibliographical, documentary, library
and journal information services. Such an analysis would permit the development
of a technique of contour mapping of the probable number of information search
operations (or the probable delay) necessary for a person in a certain subject
and/or geographical area, to contact another person (or tap an information flow)
in another area.
System Analysis (see Fig. 2)
The above techniques should provide an adequate basis for a useful dynamic
analysis of the world system. The interactions are so complex that it is highly
probable that a complete picture could not be portrayed in any meaningful static
form. Techniques would have to be developed to select out, summarize statistically,
and display parts of the system in order to provide adequate conceptual models
to facilitate understanding. The advantage of the data bank would be that it
provides a base from which many such techniques and models may be derived and
examined. The advantage of the proposed system, however, is that it provides
a common base by which partial models are in effect linked, in contrast
to current procedure where, for example, a political model would not necessarily
be based on the same entities as a sociological model, and the two models would
not interact. The system is therefore a form of guarantee that all aspects
of the world system are potentially accessible, even if a researcher of necessity
chooses to work with one aspect at a time. This integrated multi-aspect
possibility is an essential requirement for any management problem analysis.
The data base would prove extremely valuable to the simulation of the operation
of sub-systems of the world system. Such a simulation could focus on political,
sociological, information and financial or other aspects. In the case of political
science, for example, little empirical work has been done on which theories
could be based. The lack of an adequate comprehensive data base has also inhibited
attempts to derive theories inductively. It is through simulation that possible
relationships among any or all variables put into the simulation may be examined.
Simulation can therefore be used as a theory building and a theory comparing
device and can aid in accelerating the development of fundamental knowledge
in international politics (2) . Clearly these points can also be made in favour
of simulation of other aspects of the world system. The fact that such simulations
are based on up-to-date data about the real world -- data in a system
which is also used for non-research purposes -- and not artificially
generated, considerably increases the speed with which research conclusions
can be made use of as guides to practical decision-making in both governmental
and non-governmental spheres. A particular advantage when interactive
display units are used, is the possibility of rapidly introducing response or
probability curves as a hand-drawn 'light curve' to change the
characteristics of a simulation. This avoids the need for lengthy numerical
specification of curves .
Interactive Graphic Displays
A research worker involved in theory building, technique improvement, analysis
of the world system or sub-systems, development of methods of practical application,
or investigating parts of the world system as a guide for decision-making purposes,
could be equipped with an interactive graphic device linked to the proposed
usually involve a cathode ray tube, a light-pen or equivalent device for
drawing and manipulating graphical data displayed, an associated keyboard, and
possibly an array of push buttons and toggle switches for designation of certain
user-defined computer subroutines and macro instructions. Such routines
can be used to increase or decrease the amount of detail in the display modify
the dimensions or coordinate system of the graph, etc. Data can be fed onto
the display (and thus into the computer) using the light-pen, the alphanumeric
and function keyboards.
In order to treat
very large structural entities graphically (e.g. a complex organizational network)
, the display surface can be set up to represent a window on, or projection
of one aspect of, one part of the structure. For a particular application it
may be necessary to work with a number of such detailed sections by 'moving'
the display window to view different portions of the entity as a whole. A capability
can also be provided to 'zoom' in on a small portion of the structure, if it
is three-dimensional, in order to get a better picture of the relationship
or lack of relationship between the parts. Dynamic capabilities can be added
to the above. Analysis of various types of weakness can be provided and signaled
to attract the attention of the research worker or decision maker. At any time,
he can request further information in textual or graphical form on parts of
In order to understand
the value of interactive computer graphics, a few basic principles of communications
should be considered . Languages convey thoughts . The most primitive language
conveys a small portion of the total thought in a language unit. The spectrum
from binary computer language through textual description to graphics may be
considered as a hierarchy of languages. A picture, curve or chart is a unit
of graphic language. The cliché 'one picture is worth a thousand words'
describes the power of a unit of graphic language to express thoughts. Raw analytical
data must be plotted or structured to draw attention to significant details
and bring out its full meaning. Until this is done, it is difficult for the
individual human information processing system to construct efficient data structure
models of the content of a mass of data. It is only by using such structures
that complex data becomes easy to manipulate and remember. A measure of the
degree to which some form of communication approaches the ideal is
the degree to which it is understandable weeks or months after it is written,
not statement by statement, but in the structure of meaning...that it reveals
or conceals. Graphical communication is inherently structural and therefore
ideal where complex structures and interactions must be analyzed by research
workers and subsequently displayed for the benefit of decision-making.
Real-time computer graphics makes it possible for the research worker
to describe his problem in terms of charts, graphs, schematics, pictorial views,
etc, and have his analytical results portrayed in a similar form. All of this
is accomplished within a time which makes it possible to maintain 'thinking
momentum', which permits questions to be quickly rephrased in the light
of each analytical response. For the decision-maker, particularly in
committee, the system allows him to access quickly detailed evidence only for
those points of the displayed summary which are questioned. (3, 4, 5, 6, 7,
The fundamental importance of interactive graphics is the ability to facilitate
understanding. Progress in understanding is made through the development of
mental models or notations that permit a simple representation of a mass of
complexities not previously understood. The greater the complexity however,
the more difficult it is to use mental models. For example, in a discussion
of mental models of electrical circuits one author writes: 'Unfortunately, my
abstract model tends to face out when I get a circuit that is a little hit
too complex. I can't remember what is happening in one place long enough to
see what is going to happen somewhere else. My model evaporates. If I could
somehow represent that abstract model in the computer to see a circuit in animation,
my abstraction wouldn't evaporate. I could take the vague notion that 'fades
out at the edges' and solidify it. I could analyze bigger circuits. In
all fields there are such abstractions. We havn't yet made any use of the computer's
capability to "form up" these abstractions. The scientist of today is limited
by his pencil and paper and mind. He can draw abstractions, or he can think
about them. If he draws them, they will be static, and if he just visualizes
them, they won't have very good mathematical properties and will fade out.
With a computer, we could give him a great deal more. We could give him drawings
that move, drawings in three or four dimensions which he can rotate, and drawings
with great mathematical accuracy. We could let him represent all kinds of very
complex and very abstract notions, and we could let him work with them in a
way that he has never been able to do before. I think that really big gains
in the substantive scientific areas are going to come when somebody invents
new abstraction's which can only be represented in computer graphical form'
(4), (emphasis added). It is this sort of facility which the political, social,
information and management scientists and educationists require in their studies
of the world system and. its sub-systems. It appears highly probable that
only abstractions of the above order will prove an adequate basis for an understanding
and representation of the world system for purposes of sophisticated decision-making
The need for comprehensive research on means of facilitating the decision-making
process within the world system is illustrated by the following quote: 'We
know much of what the future will bring in terms of problems. We know they will
be big, complex, and serious....These problems represent the givers. We know
they will be there -- and we know they will overwhelm us if we do
not find the means of coping with them. What we lack, thus far, is conviction
that there is a means of getting hold of them. They seem so staggering in
their size and complexity -- so far beyond the capability of
any single institutional segment of the community, public or private....And
they are so interrelated that to proceed to try to solve any one of them
in isolation from the others is often to create more problems than are solved
by the effort. The dilemma thus presented has so far frustrated most efforts
to come to grips with these problems. This condition of paralysis need not obtain.
None of the...challenges lies beyond our already existing capacity for coping
with them. The tools are already at hand and included in those tools are not
only the technological capabilities but experience in systems management and
systems analysis as well as proven patterns of joint public and private effort.'
(emphasis added) (14).
The techniques used to handle development programmes are, even in the systems
oriented U.S.A., 'still operating on the old project by project basis.
Problems are subdivided into manageable units, but rarely are those units
coordinated into a comprehensive pattern. It is rarer still for one program
to be related to another, particularly in a case where agency jurisdictional
lines do not overlap... There is no lack of criticism of this haphazard approach
to major national problems. Nevertheless, when the gains made in coping with
our environmental problems are stacked up against the exciting breakthroughs
that have been made in our aerospace efforts, it is clear that we are improving
the quality of human existence here on earth at too slow a rate....In my judgment,
we are on the threshold of an entirely new approach to the solution of these
public problems...What I am talking about, of course, is systems management....Computers...are
merely tools of the systems manager; they increase his capacity to make good
decisions by improving the quality and quantity of his information. The amount
and quality of available information are critical to the success of public programs.
Far too often, however, decisions are made with inadequate data, usually because
not all of the necessary factors were taken into consideration. As one local
government official described the public management process, 'We manage
by reaction rather than design'. Use of the array of tools available
to the systems manager can immeasurably improve the quality of public decision-making,
and hence the quality of public programs.' (emphasis added) (15). It is
this approach which is required to solve the decision-making problems
within the world system. A first step, however, must be a comprehensive and
dynamic collection of information on all the organizational entities involved
in the initiation and control of change. Research will then be required to adapt
or develop the appropriate techniques for portraying and predicting the interactions
between these entities.
As the world system organizational structure and range of inter-organization
interaction increases in complexity, new means must be sought to facilitate
(a) the task of the planner and decision-maker whether in inter-governmental,
governmental, international or national non-governmental organizations,
or in meetings of any type; (b) the interaction between decision-making
research and decision-makers. It is not possible to expect decision-makers
under time pressure to be able to locate and absorb all the serially presented
textual and tabular material relevant to each problem and the techniques required
to solve it. New techniques must be sought to summarize, structure and automatically
highlight problem areas and their relation to the various types of resources
available for a solution, in a manner which is oriented to the requirements
of the decision-maker or the type of meeting in which decisions are made.
This is particularly important where a range of new and perhaps complex techniques
of analysis has been developed but can only be used by the decision-maker under
clearly defined conditions, with appropriate qualifications, to be of value.
The interactive graphic display is an important new aid to the controlled analysis
of these decision-making problems. 'It is superfluous to point out,
for example, that an incidence matrix, while completely describing a graph,
is a poor substitute when it comes to being an aid to human intuition and understanding.
A similar reflection applies to tables of values that describe functional relationships;
a graph is immediately clear, while numbers are not.'(7)
An important additional value of graphical displays and particularly interactive
graphical displays is the guidance it gives to any meeting discussion. The minimum
amount of information on a complex structure is successively displayed for general
comprehension and to focus on the major problem areas as they are to be discussed.
Specific detailed queries by participants can, however, be met and answered
within the general context without endangering the meeting momentum as a result
of the confusion easily created by reference to topics or perspectives whose
detailed relationship to the topics under discussion has not yet been adequately
prepared. Under norma1 circumstances, the meeting momentum and sense of direction
may be modified by such statements in the absence of adequate information, drawing
the attention of the meeting away from the critical areas and perhaps apparently
justifying the postponement of a decision.
Interactive graphics, may therefore be used as a means of structuring and interrelating
problem areas and highlighting those on which surveys must be carried out.
It is an ideal tool for vividly and automatically highlighting (and if necessary
supplying a textual description) communication gaps or inadequacies, lack of
coordination and duplication within a complex organizational structure. It has
the advantage pf being able to draw attention, on exactly the same basis, to
such weaknesses between interacting divisions of organizations within the world
system which have no direct formal structural links.
A central data bank, or one operating through regional centres,
can maintain an integrated picture of the world system updated from a wide variety
of sources. Any modifications, dissolution of old entities, creation or proposal
of new entities and interactions can be ordered in relation to the other entities
affected. This has the valuable consequence that duplication of corrective action
is not made by one decision-maker during the time delay (sometimes measured
in years) before he registers (if he does) the actions of another decision-maker
concerned with the same problem. Each decision-maker has a dynamic information
picture of the environment with which he is concerned. This picture is not distorted
by the administrative restrictions imposed on his interactions with, and recognition
of other entities.
terms: 'The primary problem encountered when designing a large complex
system is to control the utilization of three-dimensional space during
the layout process. In a large system the work of numerous specialists must
be closely coordinated in order to ensure that no two objects are placed in
the same space, and that the interaction of layout and system characteristics
does not unnecessarily degrade the performance of systems. Ideally, everyone
would work on one large drawing....However, one large drawing --
actually -- is obviously impractical. Using interactive computer
graphics, however, it is possible for everyone to work on a 'single drawing";
through linkage of the graphics with analytical programs, the correlation between
layout of a system and the system performance characteristics is automatic.'
International Treaty Research
A major problem in dealing with the multitude of bilateral and multilateral
treaties is to discover which subjects are covered by which treaties and which
are not covered by any treaties. This problem extends to the national level
and is aggravated by the fact that international treaties are usually only in
effect for a limited period. The proposed data bank, by processing a treaty
as an organizational entity (without an administering secretariat) could, in
conjunction with a visual display unit, quickly give a dynamic visual impression
of what fields were not covered now (or would not be in the near future), in
what fields several treaties had to be considered. By relating treaties to organizations
and programmes concerned with the same subject, their norm
Economics of interactive computer graphics and the future
The problem of
management guidance necessary to control change within the world system, highlighted
by the quote at the beginning of this note, will require increasing interaction
between the functions of: research, decision-making, problem evaluation,
programme implementation, and public information. At present, these functions
are, in many problem areas, the responsibility of organizations or departments
which only interact indirectly via a long series of unorganized and only partially
understood (from a systems viewpoint) processes and delay mechanisms.
The proposed data bank could provide an information base as a nucleus for the
development of a structure which would increase the speed of interaction between
the above functions within the world system. National and international data
transmission networks and information systems are now being planned and in some
cases implemented. Where the above functions can each benefit from use of the
same data base, problems registered in one functional area can quickly lead
to response from the other area, e.g. a decision-making or problem evaluation
problem will stimulate research and lead to the rapid use of research conclusions
and techniques. It is already possible to envisage the state at which the decision-maker
may be able to benefit from research techniques weeks, instead of years,
after they are developed, because of interaction via the functional area, through
the type of information bank proposed. Similarly, a particular decision-making
problem may become more clearly defined as a stimulus to the researcher.
measure of value of any innovation must be the financial and indirect returns
on the investment. The future cost per console hour for time-shared computer
graphics was anticipated in 1968 to be $ 12-15 in the 'near future'
and $ 1-2 in five to ten years. Such systems may be operated over telephone
or data transmission lines so that the interactive computer graphics terminal
must eventually become a piece of office equipment (rather than part of a computer
installation) . Complete graphics systems could, in 1968, be purchased at costs
between $ 15~-000 and $ 50,000. Tangible benefits derived from the
use of graphic systems include: reduction in the number of man-hours required
to test a single solution to a problem; reduced use of computer time due to
the users ability to 'zero-in' on the correct answer; direct
savings of man-hours required to translate problem descriptions into computer
input; savings as a result of computer reduction of raw data output to graphical
form. (5, 9)
The intangible benefits are primarily in the area of problem solving. Graphics
has spurred some users on to attempt the solution of future problems that today
have no solution because the problems have not yet been fully perceived (6)
or adequately defined for computer analysis. Research of this type is essential
to provide a constant stream of new concepts and techniques by means of
which change may be controlled. As an example of a means of controlling
change which is now feasible (it is currently used to facilitate stock exchange
transactions, (16)), consider the operation of the type of development information
system towards which we will shortly be forced to move but for which research
techniques are at present inadequate.
foundations or individuals will register via a computer, perhaps anonymously,
their interest in participating in programmes in a particular field. Anybody
willing to formulate, initiate, coordinate or finance such a programme, could
at any time test the number, and perhaps type, of bodies which have registered
such an interest. Proposals could then be circulated via a computer addressing
system without the need to reveal the identity of recipients. The initiator
would then receive replies from those interested in his proposals, permitting
him to prepare a preliminary meeting to launch the project.
coordinator for general programmes could automatically monitor the current and
proposed (non-restricted) projects in any specialized area and thus ensure
that the specialized project coordinators received all appropriate information
on the general or related specialized programmes with which they could align
their activities or from which they could obtain support.
Visual display units would provide immediate access to
a general picture of the pattern of change and would automatically signal areas
of imbalance (including unchecked control) detected by standard and new experimental
Such a system could operate through an international network of computers
serving remote terminals. It would ensure continuous dynamic interaction between
change agents and signal all areas in which participation or support was required.
The instantaneous display of areas of Imbalance would facilitate rapid organized
response. A dynamic system of this kind would require a very flexible and organic,
perhaps even continuous, reconceptualization of the world system and the relationship
between the, entities in its many sub-systems.
In the early stages, such an information system could operate by postal contact
with the central computer and gradually switch over to remote terminal, real
time processing as this became economically justifiable. Regional computer systems
could also be set up to handle local projects.
A sophisticated dynamic Information system of this type could be quickly developed
from the specialized Information systems which are currently under investigation,
provided that the eventual objective is clearly defined in the near future.
Study and display of organizational networks (see Fig.
This section describes how a research worker or decision-maker could interact
with a visual display unit linked to the type of data bank proposed and aided
by some of the techniques outlined above.
a) Flowchart presentation of world system
The research worker could group organizations with certain characteristics
into classes which interact in certain specified ways. By grouping organi zations,
an average of their characteristics and the characteristics of their interactions
with organizations in other classes can be, conveniently re presented. Many
flowcharts of the whole world system, or a part, can be obtained In this way.
A flowchart can be complexified to just one type of interaction (e.g. membership,
information, policy) or may include several. The flowchart may be made complex
by using many classes and interactions or simply by using only a limited number.
The research worker can modify his definition of the classes or study the effects
of Increasing flows In some arc-as or creating flows in new areas. This technique
is a valuable com plement to simulation of world system operations.
b) Network presentation of world system
The research worker could portray the interaction between single organizations
or parts of organizations in a network form. Since each type of Interaction
creates a different type of network, many networks can be superimposed or only
one need be displayed. The research worker could also create his own set of
networks directly with a light-pen on the screen.
The network could also be structured in terms of some two or three dimensional
coordinate system so that the significant organizations in terms of one definition
are grouped in one area (e.g. policy formulating at top, policy implementing
at bottom, or most coordinative near origin) . The lines between the points
representing organization interactions could be made longer, shorter, thicker,
thinner or dashed according to interaction criteria defined to be of interest.
This technique can be combined with a 'flashing' technique to draw attention
to special links or nodes as a result of computer analysis of the network. These
possibilities would considerably speed up evaluation and improvement of new
methods of world system structure analysis such as Johan Galtung's suggestions
for a "calculus of integration" (17).
The network, could also be structured in terms of issues on the basis of certain
assumptions. Cross-issue links could then be evaluated. Different types of organizations
(as defined by the research worker) could be represented by different symbols
on the display screen. Short life organizations, or bodies with a long activity
cycle (e.g. large five- yearly congresses) 1 could be made to flash with a characteristics
periodicity thus giving some idea of the lack of continuinity of flow in some
parts of the network.
c) Response curves and textual display (see Fig. 3M)
Using simulation techniques, stresses could be introduced into the network.
The interaction characteristics of parts of the network would amplify or dampen
such changes. This could best be followed by requesting response curves for
critical parts of the network -- or the flowchart, if that form of grouped presentation
The response curves could be placed on a specially defined part of the display
area. Such an area could also be used for the display or request of textual
descriptions or analytical results pertaining to different parts of the network
indicated by the researcher using the light-pen.
Response curves might be used to show the probability of Information disseminated
by node A reaching node F according to certain assumptions made, by the researcher
about the factors governing such flows. Similar curves might be displayed for
the collection by node A of information from nodes B to F. Other curves might
be used to show the probability of the alignment of programmes of low-level
organization with the recommendations formulated by high-level organizations.
Conversely curves could be displayed on the basis of certain assumptions to
show the probability of the response by high-level organizations to resolutions
passed on by low-level organizations. There are many other possibilities of
The research worker also has the possibility of attempting an optimization
of the organizational network. By modifying organizational characteristics (as
they would Probably be modified as the result of new funds or higher level policy
recommendations, etc.), he can iterate toward the optimum organizational structure
in a particular area. Such analyses could only be of value if adequate allowance
was made for the valid resistance of some organizations to recommendations based
on such calculations. A representation of informal structures would be required.
Recommendations arising from the use of such techniques could be used as a
guide, by decision-makers. The educational value of a display system of the
type proposed could be used to support and explain any decisions based on such
techniques. These techniques would be particularly useful as a guide to any
decisions regarding the creation of new organizations, meeting series or programmes.
They would help to indicate, for the type of organization proposed, the likely
performance to be expected.
Communications and Education Research (see Fig.3L)
A visual display unit has considerable advantages as a technique for the communication
of new concepts. As the world system Increases in complexity new techniques
must be sought to simplify education concerning it and the many roles and interactions
open to the individual, the citizen and his organizations. The problems posed
by the time currently required to communicate an adequate working knowledge
of the world system and the difficulty of building up an integrated picture
of its complexity, suggest that a visual display unit may have many possibilities.
An important technique In building understanding is the ability of a display
unit, linked to the type of data bank proposed, to portray the world system
organizational network from an origin chosen anywhere within the network. Thus
an organization, known and understood by a particular user, may be used as visual
origin and all other organizations displayed in terms of their relationship
to it. Organizations "distant" in communication terms can be reduced In visual
Importance, whereas "nearby" organizations of relatively little absolute importance
can be made to appear of great significance (approximating the recognition normally
accorded to it by the user) . This technique has considerable psychological
value. The student has a known base or organizational environment from which
to start his exploration of the organizational network. He Is able, to understand
how his known organizations are "nested" within an organizational environment.
He can work from this base by requesting a restructuring of the network in terms
of other organizational viewpoints as he builds up knowledge of, and a "feel'
for, those originally conceptually distant from his starting point. Text can
be displayed concerning the new organization, interaction or perspective before
any new 'jump' is made. In this way he can progress toward the more general
levels of the world system or into other areas of detail.
Clearly, since a 3600 view of the network cannot be supplied, the student
must specify the direction in which he wishes to observe the network. He can
then rotate his effective "field of vision" around his pre-specified viewpoint
In order to locate the next organizational viewpoint about which he wishes to
learn or in terms of which he wishes to restructure the network. The significance
of this possibility is that it would enable a person to understand the organization/
information environment of groups with which he has not previously been in contact.
A valuable feature of an interactive system is the possibility given to a
student of simulating the result on the world system of "wiping out" a single
organization or a class of organizations believed to be of little value. Students
can experiment with the system by "moving around" within it, modifying it to
fit preconceptions or rigid definitions and observe their operational results,
or observing the system as a whole In various projections. At any stage, textual
material could be requested by the student. Such a technique could be adapted
to use in the learning process by school or university students, adult education
classes or the briefing of diplomats, delegates or specialists who are to be
exposed to other viewpoints or conceptions of the organizational environment.
Clearly lowcost, video, non- interactive versions of an educational sequence
could be prepared and reproduced for wider distribution.
Systems and hardware requirements
The proposed data bank could be organized in a number of ways. If the research
processing requirements are minimized (and possibly handled via a preliminary
restructuring operation), then conventional file structures can be used. if
it Is considered useful to avoid a restructuring operation and to facilitate
complex research, then the organization of the file raises problems of timing
and memory space.
If the proposed data bank can only be implemented with a minimum of financial
backing from sources uninterested in the sophisticated research possibilities,
it would be an advantage to use programmes and file descriptions which can be
subsequently increased in sophistication. In this way, the minimum data on coded
entities could be included initially and more detailed descriptions added subsequently
over a number of stages. Sophisticated processing would thus be possible in
some areas before others depending on the priorities established for data collection
(whether detail or coverage) .
This possibility require s that the f inal f orm of the f ile and the specif
ic research requirements should be known at an early stage to minimize the possibility
of structuring the file in a non-optimum manner at any particular stage.
The more sophisticated processing possibilities Implied by some sections of
this note, whilst currently feasible in isolation or on small files, may pose
considerable problems of memory requirements and processing delays when used
together on large files. Detailed study and a clear definition of requirements
may, however, indicate means of avoiding these difficulties.
Another approach appears to be possible, however, which would facilitate rather
than create obstacles to the Integrative emphasis which it Is intended that
the system should stress. This approach arises from recent work by Gordon Hyde,
Scientific Director of Datatrac Ltd (U.K.) on new conceptions of information
retrieval systems. He considers that:
"Most existing information retrieval systems depend to a large extent on
uneconomic use of numerical processing machines. Where attempts have been
made on more difficult information retrieval problems, they have usually been
confined to highly constrained, statistically well-defined areas of subject
matter and static uniterm data bases, whereas the real information retrieval
environment is statistically indeterminate, dynamic and formally more, than
finite. 'With regard to software approaches, although considerable advances
have been made in heuristic programming, its strategies are costly, time-consuming,
make heavy demands on skilled personnel in short supply and still leave the
specific problems of information retrieval unresolved." (10).
He points out that only recently (Royal Society Discussion, 18 October 1968)
has a specific information processing machine been seriously considered. His
work has been on the theoretical basis for such a computer which has to be mathematically
unlike numerical processing machines. He considers that:
"Numerical analysis and statistics allow us to analyse, measure and to some
extent understand and control randomness artificially, but if our goal is
synthesis and unification, we must turn to intuitionist group theoretical
methods as the theoretical physicists have shown" (11)
It is precisely this attitude which may prove essential to an adequate understanding
of the complexity of the world system. The key to this approach is the conclusion
that "non-Abelian (non -commutative and partially non-associative) coding procedures"
are required. This work has been extended to "the possibility of a universal
binary meta language, which has hitherto been regarded somewhat as the philosophers
stone of computer science." He considers that
"For the first time therefore, we have a means of automatic ally addressing
and retrieving combinatory propositions from a formally more than finite information
space. We also have the capability of organizing that space in a variety of
modes for optimization of storage parameters and retrieval strategy. Several
workers can even work the same data base. in different retrieval modes.'
This is precisely what the processing possibilities mentioned earlier would
require. He continues:
"It is clear that the operations can be used for naming, classifying and
Identifying any digital sequence, including non-scalar and non-linear sequences
such as occur in pattern recognition. It is also clear that the system can
be used for addressing and handling multidimensional matrices with many variables,
such a s occur in linear programming. " (10) .
Gordon Hyde has specif ic proposal s f or the creation of the requisite new
hardware and is discussing the early adaptation of existing hardware by the
incorporation of existing encapsulated logic circuits. With a "not unduly costly"
(11) modification of this type, he describes the processing capability as follows.
" Supplementary to the addressing structure on a single level, large groupings,
hierarchies, tree- structures, porisms, and multi-dimensional networks can
be constructed within the total universal binary metalanguage symbol space.
Recursive coding from natural language input can be placed against higher
order addressing .... The vast theoretical information space, open file addressing
capability, and the possibility of address linkage both along and across the
symbol space, should permit an approximation to the human learning function
hitherto unattainable" (emphasis added) (10) .
"It is claimed that the device, in addition to optimizing storage and addressing
parameters in large scale real-time computer systems, will also considerably
simplify programmes, and retrieval strategies in areas of application which
present heuristic and combinatory problems for existing systems, including
retrieval by syntactic and propositional statements in natural language, nested
and multiple cross-indexed data bases, retrieval of product information by
specification coding and linguistic applications.." (12)
Visual display units with graphic capabilities are highly suited to this type
This note has stressed the advantages to research workers to be derived from
the creation of the proposed computer- based information centre. Most of the
techniques have already been applied in the physical sciences and engineering.
The problem remains to adapt them to the less easily quantifiable variables
encountered in the political, social, management and information sciences which
are essential to an adequate analysis of the world system.
Use of the above techniques should make it possible to move quickly to a stage
where there is an interaction between techniques and their adaptation to the
available equipment which permits progressively more rapid and sophisticated
analyses as well as an increasing "spin-off" to assist practical decision-making
Some features could be quickly available at a low, but useful, level of sophistication.
It is however essential to recognize the possibility of gradually and flexibly
increasing sophistication as techniques improve and funds become available.
The formulation of recommendations can best be based upon those produced as
a result of the broadest and most recent published approach to the communication
problem, namely the SATCOM report. The Committee on Scientific and Technical
Communications (SATCOM) of the National Academy of Sciences / National Academy
of Engineering (U.S..A.) had as its three major objectives (Feb. 1966):
- "To gain a comprehensive overview of the current state and required evolution
of scientific and technical communication,"
- "To stimulate increased participation among individuals and institutions
in national planning for the improvement of scientific and technical communication,"
- `To function as a forum and clearing-house on currently acute issues relevant
to scientific and technical communication."
It recommended (June 1969) the establishment of a permanent Joint Commission
on Scientific and Technical Communication responsible to N.A.S./IN.A.E.:
"The Commission is to be conversant with activities in scientific and technical
communication and to provide guidance useful to public and private organizations
in the development of more effective scientific and technical communication,
It also should be responsible for leading the private sector in the coordination
its interests and programs and in the development of broad and farsighted
plans. Therefore its mission should entail:
1. Serving the scientific and technical community by fostering coordination
and consolidation of its interests in the handling of scientific and technical
2. Serving the government by providing representatively comprehensive and
autho ritative information and advice on the activities, needs, and ideas
scientific and technical community in this field. To fulfill this mission,
the Commission should identify needs and requirements and actively efforts
to explore appropriate arrangements for coopera tion and coordination It must
review and contribute to the broad planning of scientific-and-technical-information
activities and would expect to assist the federal government in building and
adapting a framework of policy for tile effective operation of scientific
and technical communication, It also would provide a forum for the timely
and broad-gauged review of current acute issues. In recent years increasingly
effective organizational mechanisms have fulfilled these functions in relation
to the scientific and technical information-handling efforts of federal agencies.
However, no effective mechanism exists at the
present time for facilitating interaction between the government structure
and the activities of private organizations - both those for profit and those
not for profit -- in this field. The emergence of a coordinating institution
of broad scope and representation in the private sector is necessary for the
development of such interaction, To fulfill this role will be one of the
primary objectives of the proposed Commission
The extreme complexity of the entire scientific-and-technical-comnunication
system is such as to expose it today, and with increasing severity tomorrow,
to the unforeseen disruptions and crises so characteristic of large aggregates
of activities, the interdependence of which is not fully understood and which
are not well-coordinated. Some crises are laready upon us (e.g. the page-charge
issues), others lie ahead. They will require continuing efforts on the part
of the Commission...
Another problem that we consider of comparable importance is the development
of substantially mere coherent pattern of cooperation among the many and diverse
secondary information services. Efforts to develop such a coordinated pattern
involve not only subtle technical problems, especially in regard to standards
and convertibility, but require the establishment of realistic pricing and
funding policies for such services....
Another area for Commission attention pertains to the way in which the opportunities
for innovation afforded by advanced technology might be explored, The Commission
should urge the priority of large-scale experiments and the participation
of qualified scientists, engineers, and practitioners in these efforts. Further,
it should faster the application of the results Its of such experiments in
contexts other than the particular oneS in which they axe obtained .....
Effective liaison must be maintained with federal agencies, and special
efforts will be necessary to ensure that current concerns receive thorough
airing from the respective view oints of the government's requirements and
the capabilities of private organizations - viewpoints that hopefully
will become less often at odds with one another.
The Commission membership should. include as broad a representation as
feasible of the major scientific and technical communities and the principal
kinds of organizations in related information-handling activities, as well
as representatives of the Councils of the National Academies and liaison members
from the principal government activities. Such coverage could be provided
by a membership of about 20. Additionally, the Commission should continue
to draw upon the advice and assistance of the nearly 200 Consulting Correspondents
whom SATCOM has assembled. The Commission could be especially 'helpful in
su es ting otions and setting riorities for new efforts in research and exploratory
innovation. To do so. it conceptual. framework for the ev v would need to
develop a of scientific and technical communication from which to derive guidelines
for future efforts and criteria' (pp. 276-280; emphasis added)
On the above basis and bearing in mind the arguments developed in this report
for a comprehensive approach, specific recommendations are:
1. The creation of a study group. to define, the scope of the whole communication
problem in the light of the requirements of a approach.
2. The creation, on the basis of the, conclusions of the work of this study
group, of a commission with a mandate similar to that of SATCOM (except
that the explicit restrictions to the field of U.S.A. science and technology
and the implicit restrictions to a narrowly defined systems approach should
be removed). A major objective of this commission should be to determine the
structure of a body to perform, at the international level and for all subject
areas, functions similar to those recommended by SATCOM for the Joint Commission,
3. The establishment of a permanent international body structured, in the
light of the SATCOM philosophy, to reflect the communication concerns of governmental
organizations, private non-profit and for-profit organizations, the various
academic communities and the many practitioners and information users not otherwise
4. As an aid to, and in parallel with, the activity of each of these bodies
in turn, the establishment of an international comnuter-based information centre
on international and national organizations and related entities using a network
file structure. A specific task of this centre should be to facilitate systematic
analysis of information flow within the world system to increase the precision
and justify and clarify the recommendations of the above bodies. A major concern
should be- to ensure that such a system is used by both academic research groups
and practitioners of all types needing contact information or assistance. Such
a centre could advantageously be based on the current data activities of the
Union of International Associations, Brussels.
The various study commissions and the permanent body should ensure the continuing
investigation of the need for and manner by which the file structure, size,
coverage and conception of the computer-based centre should be developed, in
order to work towards the more sophisticated data processing opportunities and
benefits outlined in this report, as well as the many others likely to result
from integrated research into comprehensive man-machine systems.
|Secondary references in addition to those noted below
|J. W. Bean, S. W. Kidd, et
al. The BEAST; a user-oriented procedural language for social science research.
Washington, The Brookings Institution.
E. Bennett, et al. AESOP: A prototype for on-line user control of organizational
data storage, retrieval and processing. AFIPS Conference Proceedings, Fall Joint
Computer Conference, 27, Part I, pp. 435-456, 1965
C. M. Berners (Ed.). Models for decision. English Universities Press,
I. M. Beshers (Ed.). Computer methods in the analysis of large scale social
systems. MIT Press, 1968 (2nd ed.)
D. B. Bobrow and J. L. Schwartz (Ed.). Computers and the policy-making community;
application to international relations. Prentice-Hall, 1968
H. Borko. Computer applications in the behavioral sciences.
E. A. Bowles (Ed.), Computers in humanistic research. Prentice-Hall,
W. D. Buckley. Sociology and modern systems theory. Prentice-Hall,
C. A. Codding, Jr. A systems approach to the comparative study of international
organization. Unpublished paper prepared for the Study Group on International
Organization of the European Center of the Carnegie Endowment for International
G.W. Carrell and H. Evans. COMPACT (Computerization of world FACTs)
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1968, v). 498-508
Karl W. Deutsch. The Nerves of Government, Free Press, 1963
A. G. Donald. Management, information and systems. Pergamon, 1967
D. A. Easton. Systems analysis of political life. Wiley, 1965
B. M. Gross. The coming general systems model of social systems. Human Relations,
August 1965, pp. 195-216
B. M. Gross. Organizations and their managing. New York., Free Press, 1968
J. D. Jacobsen. Geometric relationships for retrieval of geographic Information, IBM Systems journal, 7, 3 and 4, 1968, pp. 331-341
M. L. James, et al. Analog computer simulation of engineering systems. Scranton,
Penn., International Textbook Co., 1964
M. A. Kaplan. System and process in International politics. Wiley,
F. F. Kuo and J. F. Kaiser (Ed.). Systems analysis by digital computer.
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Langefors, B. Theoretical analysis of Information systems. Oslo, Universitetesforlaget,
1966, 2 vols.
L. B. Lesem, et al. Computer synthesis of holograms for 3-D display. IBM Houston
Scientific Center Report, 320- 2327, January 1968.
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214,, pp. 42-52, June, 1966
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data. M.I.T. Center for International Studies, 1968
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system. Cambridge M.I.T. Center for International Studies 1968
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Studies Quarterly, June 1968
S. M. Newman. Information systems compatibility, Spartan, -Washington, 1965
Y. Okaya. Interactive aspects of crystal structure analysis. IBM Systems journal,
7, 3 and 4, 1968, pp. 322-330
R. P. Parmalee. Three-dimensional stress analysts for computer-aided design.
Ph.D. thesis, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, M.I.T., 1966
R. D. Parslow, et al. (Ed.). Computer graphics. Plenum, 1969
E. Plischke (Ed.). Systems of Integrating the international community. Princeton,
Van Nostrand, 1964
C. Pottle. State-space techniques for general active network analysis. In: Kuo,
F.F. and Kaiser, J.F.
N. S. Prymes. Browsing in an automated library through remote access. In: Sass,
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Relevant computer programs
ICES structural analysis/structural
design information system (analysis of 2 or 3-D framed structures or parts of
structures. IBM file no. 360D-16.2.015
Design and analysis of electronic circuits. IBM file no. 360D-16.4.001
Graphical electronic circuit analysis program. IBM file no. 360D-16.4.002
Electronic circuit analysis for design and optimization of complex circuits.
IBM file no. 360D-16.4.007
Kinetic simulation language for chemistry and biochemistry. IBM file no. 360D-03.2.008
IBM System 360 Operating System; graphic subroutine package. IBM file no. 360S-LI~fi-537
IBM System 360 Operating System; graphic programming services for Fortran IV
IBM Reference Library Manual no. C27-6932-1
MA System 360 Operating System; graphic programming serives -- basic IBM Reference,
Library Manual no. 027- 6912
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graphic design. IBM Systems Journal, 7, 3 and 4, 1968, pp. 218-228
2. H. Guetzkow. Simulation in international relations. Proceedings of the IBM
Scientific Computing Symposium on Simulation Models and Gaming, held on December
7-9, 1964 at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center, N .Y. p. 240-278
3. F. D. Skinner. Computer graphics -- where are we ? Datamation May 1966,
4. I. Sutherland. Computer graphics; ten unsolved problems. Datamation, May
1966, pp. 22-27
5. H. J. Genthner. Interactive computer graphics. Computer and Automation,
November 1968, pp. 14-17
6. W. I. Quirk. Productive graphics and innovative engineering design. Datamation,
October 1966, P. 31-32
7. S. A. Coons. Computer graphics and innovative engineering design. Datamation,
May 1966, P. 32-34
8. Interactive graphics in data processing. IBM Systems Journal, 7, 3
and 4, 1968, whole double issue
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10. Gordon Hyde. Proposals for an information handling computer with four levels
of autocoded universal binary metalang age (UBM). Datatrac, Ltd, (1968).
11. Gordon Hyde. A relativistic treatment of discrete information and entropy with
particular application to natural and artificial negentropic self-organizing
systems. Datatrac, Ltd., (1969 ?)
12. Gordon Hyde. A device for generating a universal binary metalanguage (UBM)
for computer operation. Datatrac, Ltd., (1969 ?) Prov.Dat.Spec. 69.212
13. Gordon Hyde. The. frontiers of memory. Datatrac, Ltd., (1968
14. K. G.Harr, Jr. (President of Aerospace Industries Association) in a speech
before the Rotary Club of Philadelphia, September l 5, 1965. Quoted in Harvard
Business Review, March-April 1967, p. 10
15. F. B. Morse. Private responsibility for public management. Harvard Business
,Review, March-April 1967, pp. 7-21
16. A computer to bypass the broker. Business Week March 8, 1969, pp. 96-97
17. Johan Galtung. A structural theory of integration. Journal of Peace Research,
5, 1968, no. 4, pp. 375-395