Improvement of Communication within the World System

Comments on figures

Uncompleted reformatting of figures relating to The Improvement of Communication within the World System (1969)

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

Detailed key Figure 1

Fig. 1 represents an attempt to merge a number of categories isolated by a variety of academic disciplines and bodies interested in different aspects of the world system. The overlapping and grey areas between categories, illustrated by the detailed key below, highlights some of the inadequacies of current terminology in providing a common framework for discussion concerning aspects of the world system. Similar problems are experienced when using the categories "international", "regional", "national", etc. (see: Judge, Anthony: Classification of organizations within the world system. Brussels, UAI, 1968)

  • V1 voluntary membership although generally distinguished from V2. Volunteering may only be possible after invitation. Socio-economic pressures may be used.. V2 mainly volunteers involved. 'Voluntary' organizations. V3 voluntary only as opposed to ascriptive. Membership by employment. Cl charitable as approved from country to country by tax regulations C2 charitable in broad sense as being not-for-profit
  • NP1 nonprofit and i)robably recognized as such by tax authorities
  • NP2 nonprofit but may be considered as 'profit' because of member interest
  • NP3 nonprofit but may be *profit' in nonsocialist countries
  • NP4 nonprofit only in the sense that profits are not redistributed
  • NP5 nonprofit in case of some agencies, but the governmental complex may attempt to balance the flow of funds to, in effect, make a 'profit'
  • P1 profit, but strongly influenced by 'non-profit criteria'
  • P2 profit, but may be strongly influenced by 'non-profit' criteria in large or complex organizations
  • NG1 nongovernmental, except possibly in case of state religion hierarchies. Generally distinguished from NG2
  • NG2 nongovernmental, except where closely connected with state apparatus or directly financed from government funds. Government officials may be members of such organizations in their official capacity.
  • NG3 as for NG2, but may have a special relationship with the government
  • NG4 nongovernmental, but may be partially or wholly, directly or indirectly, controlled by government
  • NG5 nongovernmental, but may have a special relationship to government in socialist countries
  • NG6 nongovernmental, but government may have effective control as majority shareholder or by the manner in which contracts are allocated
  • NG7 nongovernmental, possibly illegal although government may be indirectly supporting the conditions giving rise to such bodies G1 governmental, in the sense of policy making or administration of policies
  • G2 governmental, but primarily concerned with coordination and exchange of information on technical matters
  • G3 government appointed 'independent' bodies reporting back to government
  • G4 governmental, but possibly with such autonomy as to be nongovernmental
  • G5 usually governmental, possibly nongovernmental in some nonsocialist states

The deceptiveness of conventional categories may also be illustrated by the following:

  • (a) non-independent territories may be members of IG0s;
  • (b) regional, national and local NG0s may be members (of equal standing) of international NG0s;
  • (c) an international NGO may be a member of a national NGO;
  • (d) the 'degree of organization of a regular annual cycle of meetings, or a program, may be greater than that of a formal organization;
  • (e) national or local bodies, or an information system, may be of greater international 'significance' than the international body, if any, in the same field;
  • (f) the state apparatus may be so thoroughly penetrated by private or foreign interest pressure groups that the concept of its independent existence loses meaning.

Figure 1b: Unbalanced research coverage of the world system and sub-systems

A. Research studies in organizational behaviour

Bertram M. Gross has published the results of a survey obtained by searching the published literature of sociology, anthropology, psychology, economics, political science, public administration, and business administration. This includes a canvass of most English-language professional journals in these fields from 1940 through 1962 (GROSS, B.M. Organizations and their managing (condensed edition of The Managing of Organizations, Free Press, 19689 p. 636)

Organizational type Sub-type Articles Books Total
Business (excluding research)
outside U.S.A.




Government (excluding education, health, research)


central coordination
outside U.S.A.
Public service
social work 2



trade unions
political action
trade and professional
fraternal, cultural
Research   17 5 22
Cross-type comparisons   11 1 12
Grand totals   416 160 576

B. Research on international organizations
: Chadwick F. Alger (U.S.A.) has published the results of a systematic survey of 14 journals and 10 international relations readers (1960-69)

Organization Type Number of Studies      
United Nations UN and other IGO        
Other IGO        
International business organization        
35 2 10 3 3
0 63
66 3 16 7 7 0

To bring out the significance of the above figures and the conclusions drawn from them, the following estimates of the numbers of each type of body (from the 1968-1969 edition of the Yearbook of International Organizations) are given:

  • United Nations (1),
  • U.N. Agencies (27)
  • Intergovernmental organizations (201)
  • International business organizations (2819)
  • International nonprofit organizations (2577)

No survey of the total number of national bodies and local bodies in the world system appears to have been made or proposed. Author's 'guestimate' is 0.5-2.0 million

Other results and some conclusions drawn by Chadwick Alger may be summarized as follows (*): - "Despite an increase of 64 Per cent in the number of international organizations between 1956-57 and 1962-63, there has been a decline in the, research published on international organizations,,, TV - The amount of published works on international organizations utilizing quantitative and field research techniques has remained rather constant. .An analysis of 53 works that have employed these techniques reveals the following..

  • - "Forty-one (71%) study only one organization, and only four reveal comp arative work on the inner workings of international organizations."
  • "None cl' the studies focuses on relations between organizations."
  • "Thirty-five works (66%) study the United Nations, with only studies of patterns of membership of the entire family of IGO and/or INGO extending beyond the UN family and European organizations."
  • "There are no studies of international business organizations."
  • 62% of the works are concerned with voting, voting studies and research on attitudes and beliefs
  • "Little intrinsic interest is demonstrated in the specific problems of international organization agendas..." ... twelve studies (23%) indicate a basic interest in integration."
  • "The low and declining attention paid to international organizations by the journals surveyed, in the light of phenomenal growth in the number of international organizations, raises questions about the responsiveness of research to this domain of human behavior....data gathered in preparing this paper suggest that published research is exceedingly unresponsive to some fundamental changes in man's transnational behavior."
  • "The far-flung experimentation taking lace in building international organizations is not being exploited as a source of use in construct**** that more effective atisfy human needs."
  • The "overwhelming attention given to the United Nations" is understandable* but this dependence on a sample of one is contrary to the "commonly shared goal the development of general theory" and "suggests that too much of available resources have been devoted to United Nations research."
  • considering the exciting advances...in comparative methods in political analalysis **** -h esearch in international , the szl t (effect this has had on

(ALGER, C.F. Research on research: a decade of quantitative and field res earch on international organizations. Paper presented to American Political Science Association annual meeting, September 1969).

The absence of (a) research on local, national and international organizations considered within a common framework, (b) interaction with world system studies in other disciplines, is not brought out by this survey.

Figure 2: Analysis of inter-entity networks

A. Ideal gas theory versus the network theory: citation indexing: Network theory is a highly specialized branch of mathematics. Its applications to date have been mainly in narrowly defined technical problem areas. The one exception noted is the use of network theory to develop the concept of citation indexing which has now seen practical application for some years in the Science Citation Index developed by the Institute for Scientific Information (U.S.A.). Eugene Garfield, who has been intimately involved in the development of citation indexing, uses the following argument in its favour:

"The traditional philosophy of indexing system design implies that individual documents can be treated as though they were independent entities. This basic fallacy not only results in the loss of important informational links, but it is basically inefficient. This is illustrated by the example of the identical document published in two different journals. The same indexing procedure will be followed for *,'both',*, papers as though they were two entirely different documents. The indexers would select subject headings to describe the "main theme" of each paper. In practice, we know this does not occur consistently even for the same indexer. Little or no effort is made to establish a possiible relationship between the document being indexed and the documents already indexed in the collection. There are exceptions to this rule, but generally the building-block development of human knowledge is not perceptibly reflected in traditional indexing systems .... In conventional word indexing systems, the indexer cannot afford the time to establish ... linkages between concepts. He treats the literature as a series of independent events, like molecules of gas .... But the literature is not an "ideal gas". Libraries . consist of collections of highly interrelated documents. The literature is a heavily cross-linked network. The clearly visible linkages are those ordinarily provided by authors in the forms of explicit citations. Less clearly seen are implicit references as in eponyms and neologisms. Almost invisible linkages exist in the natural language expressions which obscure the relationships, especially to the unskilled observer.

"Conventional bibliography is essentially a simple listing or inventory of publications which disregards most of the interrelationships between the items in the inventory. In contrast, citation indexing integrates this necessary and useful listing in a huge graph or network. In this graph, each document is a node or vertex in a huge multi-dimensional network. By analogy, this model of the literature (man's knowledge) is like a large road map in which the cities and towns share varying degrees of connectivity. Even the small est hamlets are nodes on the citation map of science,,,,,

"When conducting a literature search... (the library patron of the future). will receive not only a conventional bibliography, but also suitable notations for each item indicating the interrelationship with other items in the bibl iography. In addition, he will receive a graph which shows these relationships more clearly. The graph will be drawn by a plotting device attached to the computer or displayed on a TV tube. For a short bibliography, this can be done with relatively inexpensive equipment. In fact, a useful map could be prepared by a conventional typewriter or line printer... This is very similar to the computer methods u, sed in drawing PERT diagrams." (GARFIELD, Primordial concepts, citation indexing, and historio- bibliography. Journal of Library History, 2 (3), 235- 249 (1967); based on a talk at a symposium, Proceedings of symposium on the foundations of access to knowledge. Syracuse, University School of Library Science, 1965)

B. Extension of the network concept to other entities: Eugene Garfield's argument refers only to the treatment of documents and to the field of science. An adequate picture of the world system can clearly not be limited merely to what appears in documents. The producers of documents, as well as non-producing bodies may have many other types of contact with one another, with each type of contact resulting in a new network. This complex of links between entities is just as signific ant for an understanding of the world system as are citation networks for effective document retrieval and an understanding of the development of man's knowledge.

The argument in the previous section can therefore be extended, mutatis mutandis, to apply to the classical (ideal gas) theory of organizations as independent entities ('billiard balls'), as opposed to the systems approach emphasizing the multi-dimensional network of relationships or links between such entities. The argument then applies to the producers of knowledge rather than the knowledge produced. The network nodes thus include dynamic entities which respond to change, as opposed to the static unchanging products of their activity, which axe of considerably less significance for the control of change or the development of know ledge and its use. As pointed out in the main report, this change of focus considerably reduces the volume of information to be handled* (and therefore the cost), thus rendering a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, multipurpose, international information system a practical and useful proposition - from which a large variety of static network information systems could be developed as and when convenient.

One interesting trend in this direction are the current experiments on evolutionary indexing described in the 1969 SATCOM report as follows:

"More exciting than retrieval of information from a static store is evolutionary indexing, in which users additions modifications, restruct uring, and critical commentaries steadily improve the initial indexing of a collection and not only provide more efficient access for subsequent users. but constitute a significant step in the evaluation and consolidat ion of primary information." (Committee on Scientific and Technical Communication (SATCOM). Scientific and technical communication; a pressing national problem and recommend ations for its solution. Washington, Academy of Sciences, 1969)

In arguing for a network approach, the distinction between

  • (a) a network approach to the manner in which information on information producers is structured at a single centre and
  • (b) a network of geographically distant but interlinked information centres, must be stressed.

Although there may be some theoretical similarity and the two approaches may even be combined, the second approach is ambitious, costly and beset with political and jurisdictional problems. The SATCOM report has the following to say about the second approach:

"The concept of interconnecting structured files of documents and data ranging in scope from the local to the regional, national, or international level has been advocated for some time as a prime objective in coping with the rising tide of information and the more pressing and diverse information needs of scientists and technologists. Thus, in reviewing developments in this area, Swanson (R.W. Information system network...let's profit from what we know. AFOSR 66-0873. Washington, U.S. Office of Space Research, 1966) states. 'It is no longer necessary...to ask whether networks can be The Institute for Scientific Information (Science Citation Index) will have processed 15 million reference records by the end of 1969.

It is time, instead, to ask about the sorts of networks that are needed, and to set about providing the innovative software and the flexible, inexpensive hardware to bring them into being. Current tendencies in government, industry, libraries, universities, and scientific and technical societies toward the operation and development of information networks lend support to these assessments of the need for and potential advantages of network efforts."

But the SATCOM report then goes on to say

"For some, years to come, technical as well as economic constraints will limit the effective size of hand-tailored information services designed to function in close responsiveness, and with good feedback coupling, to their customers." In other words, such systems will only be able to the few and will only cover specialized domaines. The report continues "However, we anticipate the proliferation of such individual services in order to provide adequate coverage of the expanding scientific and technical literature and effective services to increasingly diversified user groups."

In other words, it would appear that they will be created very much on an 'as and when' basis, and when created will be user-group orientated in such a way as to actively prevent cross- disciplinary information retrieval. No conceptual or information framework to follow and recommend the development of each specialized system is considered necessary.

The SATCOM report is a most important document with many valuable conclusions, but it is an example of the current narrow approach to the communication problem. For example: it concentrates on science and technology despite the acknowledgement that

"A third area requiring attention and appropriate action relates to the slowly knitting, massive, mission-oriented programs of recent years which deal with major social concerns, such as natural resources, education, transportation, pollution and urban problems, The role of science and technology, in the resolution of these problems is not yet clear; therefore, the nature and scope of the information programs that they will require only gradually will become apparent. The policies and practices identified as essential for the effective operation of scientific and technical communication are particularly important in relation to this new range of national endeavors."

This indicates an interest in the use of science and technology for other domaines, but there is no recognition of the importance, in their own right, of these domaines for society, or of the interaction between the hard- core science information networks and those of other fields of interest, or of the need in the field of science for feedback from such domaines to influence research priorities. The centre of gravity of the SATCOM is necessarily entirely in the scientific field. It is however possible that the requirements of non-scientific users, e.g. policy makers or academics, may introduce criteria which could modify the whole conception and philosophy of a useful future information system. There is however no framework within which investigation of the problem as a whole could be undertaken. The SATC0M report does not stress the need for such a framework or the information system to give it form.

(b) "The Committee agreed to make the publication, dissemination, and utilization of information on completed work the main subject of its study, to devote less attention to work in progress, and to exclude from its consideration the problems of handling information on planned programs of future activity.,' Although the Committee "regarded the scope of its survey as encompassing the entire series of organized activities involved in the transmission of information from early informal communication through formal publication, announcement in secondary media, and finally


- 4 review and consolidation to adapt it to the working context of a potential user. Therefore, our survey focused chiefly on the efforts of people and functions of organizations rather than only on documents and documentation tools." (Such views are very poorly understood in documentation circles where the document is the basis of all discussion.) This approach nevertheless ignores a whole dimension of the communication problem. Unless information is available and well-structured on planned programs and future activity and integrated into the results of past activity, the information system is entirely oriented toward the past and largely useless as an aid to the solution of a major problem of the future, namely the balance(! control of change. It also ignores the problem of resource allocation and that of the risk of duplication of research which has not yet been registered in the literature. in the repeated stress on the need for a systems approach to the communication problem the report assumes, that the function of a future national or international information system is necessarily the more- rapid and efficient transfer of information on documents or of information published or to be published in documents (whatever their form).

As pointed out in the main body of this report, physical proximity to such information bears little relation to the feasibility of assimilating and using it even if it is highly relevant, and this problem is likely to get worse as the amount of information and the degree of specialization increase. This factor, and others like it, need to be considered when defining the criteria for a systems approach. An information system which sets as its goal the more rapid circulation of arguments and data (which are reworked, repeated and republished as each author in the field, or in related fields, responds to the currently fashionable approach), rather than one which attempts to focus on, register and signal the actual change in the body of knowledge occasioned by each new event, is surely doomed to ineffectiveness in the face of the rising tide of information, the variety of backgrounds and languages of those who need to know about and use the information, and the variety of purposes for which the information must be used. The report does not appear to stress the need for research on the access to knowledge or to mention the implications of the expected breakthrough in memory coding. It would almost appear, despite many indications to the contrary, that the report does not recognize the possible impact of technological change on the information system which is created. In a period of very rapid change it is important to remain flexible.

The information system envisaged (and which will be partially planned on the basis of views expressed in the report) will necessarily have many costly (and therefore hard to change), non- flexible features built into the logics of its different sub-systems, as each user-group can Let funds allocated for an information system . organized for maximum response to its narrowly defined area of interest. As the, report says "all too often appalling errors in logical design still creep into schemes for the, manipulation of largo files. What is needed now in this area is not so much standardization as insight". A simple and relatively low-cost technique to guarantee flexibility is to ensure that the producer/users of information arc linked through a network file structure, organized for rapid response to change (or crisis) in problem Priorities, and which would permit rapid creation of new information networks as the need or technology warrants.

C. The network approach and the systems approach: The problems of an integrated approach to the control, management or understanding of change are illustrated by the following extracts from a paper by R.L. Ackoff:

"Although political scientists, economists, and sociologists have concerned themselves with organizational structure, there is as yet no organized body of theory or doctrine of practice on which a unified disciplinary or interdisciplinary applied-research activity can be based. AS a consequence most studies of organizational structure, such as those leading to reorganization of a system, are generally done by managers or management consultants whose approach involves more art and common sense than sciences**.. The effectiveness of an organization depends in part on its having 'the right information at the right place at the right time'.

The study of organizational communication is in much the same stage of development as the study of organizational structure. It has no organized body of theory, but it has been developing a doctrine of practice..... As we have seen, there is a large group of disciplines and interdisciplines dedicated to studying various aspects of organized man-machine systems. The fact that the subject is so dissected leads to several residual problems. Suppose that an organizational problem is completely solvable by one of the disciplines we have considered. How is the manager who controls the system to know which one ? Or, for that matter, how is a practitioner of any one discipline to know in a particular case if another discipline is better equipped to handle the problem than is his ? It would be rare indeed if a representative of any one of these disciplines did not feel that his approach to a particular organizational problem would be very fruitful, if not the most fruitful.....

In most problems involving organized man-machine systems each of the disciplines we have mentioned might make a significant improvement in the operations. But as systems analysts know, few of the problems that arise can adequately be handled within any one discipline. Such systems are not fundamentally mechanical, chemical, biological, psychological, social, economic, political, or ethical. These are merely different ways of looking at such systems. Complete understanding of such systems requires an integration of these perspectives. By integration I do not mean a synthesis of results obtained by independently conducted unidisciplinary studies, but rather results obtained from studies in the process of which disciplinary perspectives have been synthesized. The integration must come during not after, the performance of the research. We must stop acting as though nature were organized into disciplines in the same way that universities are. The division of labor along disciplinary lines is no longer an efficient one. In fact, it has become so inefficient that even some academic institutions have begun to acknowledge the fact." (ACKOFF, R.L. Systems, organizations, and interdisciplinary research. General Systems Yearbook, 5, 1960, Society for General Systems Research, pp. 1-8)

In arguing for a systems approach to the world system, it is important to recognize the lack of both theory and data. A useful system embodying a network conception should therefore not be organized around one _. theory but should instead be useful as a basis for a variety of disciplinary approaches. It should also not be dependent on particular categories of data or on categories which are difficult to quantify. On this last point the network concept can be extended in the light of current theoretical arguments to an emphasis on 'process' rather than 'entities', as outlined in the following extract. It is doubtful whether this process approach could be given an adequate data framework of wide utility at this stage. "The greater part of current discussion of systems in sociology is embarrassingly naive and out of &ate in the light of modern systems research in other disciplines

The kind of system we are interested in may be described generally as a complex of elements or components directly or indirectly related in a causal network, such that each component is related to at least some others in a more or less stable way within any particular period of time. The components may be relatively simple and stable, or complex and changingi.,,Org*** and sociocultural systems are examples of "organized complexity".

As we proceed up the various levels, the relations of parts become more flexible and the "structure'^' more fluid with process as the set of alternative behaviors open to the components increases .... the interrelations characterizing higher levels come to depend more and more on the transmission of information - a principle fundamental to modern complex systems analysis ... Though "information" is dependent on some physical base or energy flow, the energy component is entirely subordinate to the particular form or structure of variations that the physical base or flow may manifest .... Thus, "information" is not a substance or concrete entity but rather a relationship between sets or ensembles of structured variety - to put it very generally. The implications of this shift from energy flow to information flow as a basis for the interrelations of components in higher level systems are of central importance in distinguishing the nature and behavioral capabilities of the latter, as against lower-level systems. Thus a minute amount of structured energy or matter from one component of a higher system is able to "trigger" selectively a large amount of activity or behavior in other components in the system, at the same time overcoming limitations of temporal and spatial proximity as well as availability of energy .... The structure of the system becomes more and more "fluid" as it merges with process - the communication process which is its predominant feature

Donald 14. MacKay is one of the small number of systems theorists who have tackled the question of semantic information from the perspective of modern information theory ... He begins by suggesting that so little progress is being made on the semantic side of information theory because of a failure to study the communicative process within a wide enough context to embrace, not only the channel and the nature of the signals flowing through it, but the terminal sender and receiver as goal-directed, selfadaptive systems." (BUCKLEY, Walter. Sociology and modern systems theory; presenting a case for replacing outmoded models of society with a more viable and appropriate conceptual framework. Prentice-Hall, 1967, pp. 7-48)

Despite the difficulty of giving a useful form to this conception, it nevertheless represents an exciting method of looking at the immediately-realisable, network-structured data base proposed in this report.

Just as the citation index ensures the interrelationship of two or more references to the same document, the network structure assists in the solution of the problems raised by R.L. Ackoff (above). Where different specialized departments of a large, complex organization, or a network of organizations, are all in contact with a single organization, its manager, or closely related departments (for different reasons), the special approaches each represents are juxtaposed within a common framework to facilitate an integrated approach to planning, decision-making and resource allocation. This can be extended, if problem areas are treated as one type of entity (in a problem network), to cover cases where a network of specialized organizations is concerned with a single problem or related problems. This then meets the need for a method of ensuring that corrective measures developed in one sphere do not, through lack of a bridging framework, ignore the possible consequences in a second or third sphere. This approach would appear to be vital to efforts directed towards balanced control of rapid change in a dynamic world system.(*)

D. Multi-network theorv development problems: Pilost network theory applications appear to be restricted to cases where there is a single network, a single type of relationship between nodes, or possibly several networks independently linking the same nodes.

It would appear that to apply network theory satisfactorily to the case of the world- system (and its sub-systems), where this is made up of different types of entity (nodes) with a variety of relationships or flows (links) between them, the problem must be conceived as one of a number of superimposed networks, such that conversion and transfer of the 'flows' from one network: to another may take place at the nodes. In addition, losses, must be permitted in tile transfer process and in the flow between nodes. So that, for example, an input of funds to the node may be partially converted to an output of goods, information or recommendations, (--,to., and other less conveniently quantifiable flows. Much interesting work remains to be done to adapt the precise concepts of network theory to the type and amount of data available on world system operation. This development work can however be benefically . carried out (and even conceived as an ongoing, integral part of the process) in parallel with use of the proposed system for more mundane or less sophisticated purposes. The best lead located for the detailed solution of the mathematical problems and their data processing implications is the work of Börje Langefors, of which a non-mathematical extract is given in Fig. 2a.

An interesting, but unfortunate, aspect of any attempt to argue for a general or genuinely multidisciplinary approach to a problem is that no conceptual framework exists in which the merit of generality can be adequately evaluated. Using any specialized framework, a multidisciplinary argument can only appear as a "collage". To the, extent that conceptual organization. is paralleled and institutionalized in organizations, the, argument has to be reduced to a unidisciplinary/one-department problem to be processable. It is an argument in favour of the network approach that the method by which such problems will be resolved in the not too distant future can already be envisaged. It is already possible using network processing to convert arguments framed in the language of and using the familiarly worded examples of one discipline into those of another at a higher or lower level of generality. This will have the practical consequence of automating the selection and assembly of the most suitable supporting arguments, texts and diagrams in the preparation of reports proposing change - according to the requirements, at each stage, of the channels by which they must be approved. When no equivalent logically developed texts could be supplied for the second discipline or viewpoint, an indication of the optimum le arning path and texts for comprehension of the first (or related) discipline arguments could be output by computer - perhaps in a programmed learning mode.

Figure 2a: General and special properties of systems problems

Börje Langefors (Theoretical analysis of information systems. Lund, Studentlitteratur, 1966) argues for the use of systems theory to facilitate contact and collaboration between specialized bodies..

"A question that is often encountered in connection with systems work is whether a certain problem would best be handled by the specialists in its field or by people who are not very familiar with that field but do instead know the total system - or even, on a still more general level To not either know that system but are experts in basic systems design methods. The answer should be fairly obvious -- but is yet most often missed -- a balanced cooperation between different groups is what gives the best promise of success... A basic problem of systems should actually be to find out the of subdividing the work between different groups of specialities Experience appears to indicate that most of the groups involved tend to neglect the importance or the difficulty of the other peoples field....

On the other hand specialists within a field often ignore the fact that many of their problems are of a systems type and might well be better solved by methods known within other fields or within the area of general systems theory .... As another example it is obvious to many mathematicians or information processing researchers that many of the intricate problems associated with medical diagnostics and treatment planning are of a very typical information processing type and are also very similar to much advanced engineering work....

Contrary to this, most physicians, while admitting that electronic experts or computer program mers could help in making some progress toward automatization of routine parts of their work, seem to be completely convinced that no mathemat ician or information processing expert could do anything which could be of value in developing methods for part of the medical work. What could be one to im matters in1 is difficult but problem of co-operation ? It seems that systems theory could do a lot by showing cle ow problem are be subdivided into subareas Ireas could_ of which some are concerned with the general properties of structure involved, some concerned with the special properties of structure within the field, while some others are mainly concerned with the specific problems of meaning and property for that specific field only. This is one of the most basic objectives of all systems design -- to define subsystems in a proper w and t t ke advantage of such subsystem definition. 35-36

The two volume work elaborates both the theoretical implications and the data processing problems of this approach to systems design. In a "Sketch A c basic theory of systems analysis", 3 Propositions and 11 Theorems are set out which merit a wider audience amongst persons designing information systems or studying the world system. He has grasp ed a number of 'nettles', previously not considered objectively, and ordered the resultant problems and their implications for the conceptualization and design of information systems:

  • Prop. 1: People tend to neglect the importance or the existence of things they arc not able to see or perceive.
  • Th. 1: People tend to underestimate the complexity of an imperceivable system, i.e. the number C parts and relations it contains.
  • Def. 1: An imperceivable syst2P is such that the number of its parts and their interrelations is so high that all its structure cannot be safely perceived or observed at ono and the same time. (of. Main report argument for the importance of graphics for world system study) **

Figure 2b: Communication breakdown

In order to facilitate arguments about change and its control, their is great need for a technique which could unambiguously highlight the relationships and differences between problems and between assumptions. This could be done quite empirically by coding from published texts or permitting a wide variety of people to feed views and counterviews into a network coded system (of, SATCOM report and evolutionary indexing Fig. 2 p. 2). The network cross-referencing of views and counterviews maintained on a continuing basis would "position" each viewpoint in a multidimensional "information space" and move it, over time, with respect to the "centre of gravity" of the currently held group of related viewpoints.

Clearly the longer the distances between points in such an information space, the greater the probability of communication breakdown As a conceptual/ theoretical aid to understanding an empirically developed information space computer system, a systematic classification of dimension along which communication can break down is required. Below is given a tentative list of dimensions. The focus placed by persons to widely separate points on any dimension appears to result in the creation of distinct Groups as organizations. Conversely, differences between the emphasis given by entities to points along any of these dimensions or to different dimensions would appear to lead to partial or total communication breakdown between them.

Clearly this list could only be validated and refined by thorough investigation of a wide variety of organizations within the world system, This validation process could however be carried on in parallel with the empirical coding process advocated above, The list contains inconsistencies, duplication and distortions and oversimplifications because no adequate conceptual context appears to have been developed to relate the diversity of human standpoints. The only attempt at this, a general analysis of "axes of bias", is reported in the poorly titled study by JONES, W.T. (The romantic syndrome; toward a new method in cultural anthroplogy and history of ideas. Martinus Nijhoff, 1961). But no general study has been undertaken on "problems", system malfunction in the most general sense, or the possibility of a problem hierarchy, or the relationship of problems, assumptions, viewpoints, institutionalization and communication breakdown.

A developed list of this type would constitute an approximation to the framework of function space. It should provide a checklist for assumptions made in deciding upon or explaining any course of action, It should therefore be of value to an evaluation of the analysis of any subsystem of the world system. it is possible that a critical ratio range of measures of one dimension to those on others could be determined. Unbalanced ratios could then signal metastable situations likely to give rise to problems, This could give a lead to the development of a problem hierarchy of system malfunction.

Maximum, value will be derived from a computer based information system on the world system when organizations and decision-makers can be "spread" along these dimensions and a measure of their "viewpoint mobility" or "communication inertia" determined, The U.S.A. National Academy of Sciences Committee on Scientific and Technical Communication (SATCOM) report recommends a related approach as follows: "...appropriate. organizations should initiate and carry out comprehensive analyses of and experiments on the functioning of the different parts of the network of scientific and technical communication as well as of the network as a whole. It should be a long term policy to provide adequate funds for such studies... (which) ... will have to deal realistically with many elusive factors for example, inertia in behavior patterns and its effect on the acceptance of new services or the interrelationship of various communications media." (SATCOM report, P.79; see Fig. 2, p. 2 for reference)

A number of these dimensions are difficult to define, quantify and therefore display in a useful, non-empirical manner. They nevertheless represent long-term goals for a realistic portrayal of communication breakdown areas. The empirical 'viewpoint' system required is clearly very closely related to the organization information system proposed in this report. For maximum utility, the two systems should no doubt be integrated as soon as is feasible. geographical distance; geographical emphasis (local through to international) 'distance' between fields of interest field of interest (data derived from environment)

  • methods of handling data time focus (past - future) objectified concept of individual in temporal-spatial continuum - stress on being in the immediate present logical clarity/consistency/coherence
  • diffuse quality logical reception and transmission of data
  • learner/educator attitude individual as a human being -- individual as an abstract unit focus on individual
  • focus on world system; focus on self
  • environment social relevance/utility
  • knowledge or interest for its own sake self-justifying activity
  • purposeful activity; rewards (internal - external) problem orientation
  • group orientation; action - consequences of action conceptual framework for action
  • action; criteria for action -- tradition immediately practical value - theoretical or abstract value feasibility/practicality/viability/7
  • desirability ******* conditions
  • values solution to immediate visible problems
  • long-term planning and condition contro statically conceived spatio-temporal environment
  • developmental/dynamic stability/tradition/accepted procedures
  • change/dynamism active approach to environmental disturbance
  • passive/fatalistic approach sense of urgency
  • 'manana-ism' elegance
  • power; tender-minded
  • tough-minded signal emission strength ( high - low') interaction with other segments of the social environment (single channel or set of channnels
  • diverse set of channels of many types) multifaceted activity (pure and applied disciplines and practical experience) - single facet activity; multidiscipline
  • single discipline pure knowledge
  • -- ap - )17,1ied know ledge knowledge application acquisition of particular `by individual psychological integration of conceived as unified entity -- individual conceived as set of response ******** theories (unification of knowledge)
  • theories with a value in a carefully defined area, synthesizers - analysers. recognized importance - creative assessment of potential importance; source of information
  • content of information peer group contact multigroup ' p) contact formal organization informal organization/groups/movements of opinion profession or trade activity/social function of the profession or trade number of factors- permitted as variables in concepts (high - low)

This list is remarkable for its crudity, but that may be considered a measure of our attention to this area.

Figure 3: Methods of displaying data stored in the computer

The following list, and the diagrams to which it refers, attempts to give some idea of the variety of projection possible on computer output terminals. Each of these can be used to convey information on different aspects of the world system and its sub-systems, or to different types of person having differing familiarity with the symbols and techniques used.

A 1
c .
D .
E .
F .
G .
Organization chart (see Fig. 3A, 3B, 3C)

Complex detailed, hierarchically-structured organization charts with descriptive text on each body listed. In the interactive versions related organizations can be examined in rapid succession and the display can be projected onto a wall screen. Useful as a means of rapidly conveying detailed information on complex organizational linkages to persons unfamiliar with all aspects of the organization or its outside contact pattern. Could be used in meetings.

Inter-Organization network (2-Dimensions) (see Fig. 3D, 3F, 3H) of organizations and. the links between them Inter-Organization network (",-Dimensions) (see Fig. 3E, 3G, 3J, W The extra- dimension simulated on a visual display screen may be used when a two-dimensional picture would be too complex and detailed and the more significant organizations need to be highlighted in some way. Inter-Organization ion network analysis (see Fig. 3M) The computer may be used not only to store information for display, but also to analyse the rela tionships between organizations according to criteria specified by the user. Inter-Organization netw time (see F ig. 3P)

The development of an organizational complex over time may be conveniently displayed. The display could take the form of a month-by-month changes in the network portrayed in three dimensions, possibly using some interpolative display technique to facilitate understanding of Gradual changes, or where information is lacking.

User-Oriented project on he network (see Fig. W
The manner in which a three dimensional network is displayed may be changed so that it is 'distorted' to highlight those bodies with which he is most familiar, This has important educational uses. Network analysis oj the future

Developments in the structure of the network, detected as trends in the past, may be projected into the future on a display. Propositions may be introduced to control the extrapolative process and to permit display of the network in the future under various assumptions
Control of the visual display screen .11 (see', Fig. A

A variety of controls is available to the person using a visual display screen. These can be adjusted to permit him to select the type of display from which he can obtain the maximum amount of information most rapidly.

Figure 3B: Computer printout of key to Figure 3

QUERY EL/69 8 SEPT 1970 PAGE 27B
0049 0050 0051 0052 0053 0054 0055 0056 0057 0058 0059 0060 C061
0046 WATER POWER SECTION (P/5; 1964)
(L/2; 1969)
(A selection of possible indexes is shown in Fig. 3C)

Figure 3C: Examples of possible indexes to Figures 3A and 3B

  • E. Subject/Bodies responsible index: This index may be used to determine (a) who could usefully be in contact with whom with regard to each subject area, (b) who (at different levels of authority) is responsible for initiating such a contact$ (c) the date of the last and next decision-making period at which such a contact could have been or could be proposed, (d) areas of possible duplication of activity. On this last point, the mandate of each body implicated in a possible duplication of activity could be printed out by the computer as a qualifier on the subject area indexing. possible form:
  • Organization/National index: By cross-linking two organizational structures, e.g. an intergovernmental organization and the r,.en,.ber states administrative structures, the contact points and 'opposite numbers' can be highlighted, as well as the chain of responsibility possible form:
  • National contacts/Organizations index: Inverting this last index, an index by country is obtained. In other words a directory of all the bodies within any Liven country concerned with a specified range of subjects is obtained. It indicates which of these bodies, institutes, departments, or societies are in contact with which, for example, international organization. possible form,
... etc...
  • D. Other indexes: Indexes need not be restricted to one type of structure. It should be possible to select and reselect suitable indexes with great flexibility. pos, An index might lit include all the meetings, programmes, ad hoe groups concerned with a particular subject area, as well as the formal organizations. Similarly it should be possible to merge in or select out information on international, regional, national or local bodies, whether governmental or nongovernmental, profit or nonprofit, etc. In this way rigid categories may be used when necessary, but do not distort the value of the information system for other users, or when the categories have to be reshuffled to structure contacts for a new type of problem.

  • E. Other information: Clearly in many cases a simple index will be quite inadequate. It is quite possible, however, to print out more information against each index entry. Some possibilities are., date and place of last and future meetings, whether a report was published for the last meeting, budget of the organization, date of establishment and relevant legal data, or the last time a particular country was represented on the executive etc.

Figure 3D: Examples of displays of inter-organizational links

selected AA BC LD
subject PQ SP
selected geographical locations
f lows . R = recommendat, F = funds M = membership C = consultat * I = information
Identification numbers of organizations are printed or displayed within a 2-dimensional frame. Coordinates, groups and scale are specified by the user. Axes can be chosen to represent field of interest keycoding, geographical location coding, any size criterion (number of members, budget, etc.), etc. A conversion table, giving the name and other details of the organization could also be produced. Where many organizations fall at the same point in the frame, the identification numbers would represent a group which would be listed together in the conversion table
0 0 . . 0 0
As an extension of lAY the types of flo
1 ws linking different organizations or groups of organizations could be displayed. There are many possible extentensions to the above flowchart. Additional details can be added (contact frequency, flow volumes, flow quality rankings, etc.). At the same time as this is produced, an analysis of those entities or classes of entity which are not in contact, according to a user defined criteria of acceptability could also be made and later displayed. Main uses of this type of display could be in providing a rapid printed summary of organizations operating in the same field, either to inform them of each others existence, or to facilitate the task of committees discussing issues in connection with that field

J circles nodes or organizational entities
lines links or relationships between entities

Figure 3E: Example of the type of 3-dimensional structure which it is now possible to display on a computer terminal:

As part of a complex
a links -to other parts could be ignored.
orgaiiization 1 network,
The displayed part, or subsystem, could then be increased in size or
rotated by the computer to facilitate greater understanding of the
relationship between the organizational entities included.
(The is a representation of a chlorosulphate molecule taken from
OKAYA, Y. Interactive aspects of crystal structure analysis.
IBM Systems Journal, 7, 3 and 4, 19681 p. 322-330) The three coord
inate arc, selected - by the user in order to highlight those
aspects of of most interest to him.
747 1

Figure 3F: Example of a 2-dimensional chart which it is possible to display on a computer terminal

The dimensions chosen by the user ensure that the most 'coordinative' entities are positioned at the top of the frame. Boxes indicate a set of numerous entities which it would be confusing or unnecessary to display. This display is an extension of the use of an internal organization chart to an 'inter-organization' chart.

agency development aid annual budget
r 11~~--- c b
r '
development aid category
a = evaluation scheduled b = evaluation in
progress r = report published

Figure 3G: Simplified example of use of display to follow use of development aid and funds.

Aid funds may be channelled through
This type of display assists in detection of
overlap and could indicate - status of evaluation of the use of
the funds. Much statistical information can be compressed onto this and related displays as a convenient method of presenting complex interacting factors as an aid to decision-making.
0 = periodical
L_J = library
= abstracting service

Figure 3H: Simplified example of use of a display to examine network (of periodicals, abstracting services, depositary libraries, bibliographical services, etc. in interacting and overlapping subject areas can be followed with precision).

Introduction of volume figures and coverage percentages permits automatic analysis to highlight weaknesses in bibliographical coverage or the pattern of accessions to a library. Introduction of cost to user and physical locations permits automatic preparation of 'information availability' maps to indicate barrier to use by any particular category of user.

number of
barrier contacts
0 i ' \
P, 1~
- 0
selected subject areas

Figure 3J: Simplified example of use of the display to study interdisciplinary, cross-jurisdictional contact patterns

Such display could be uiedto highlight unambiguously areas where cross-displinary contacts and interaction is poor or where a particular results are not influencing those of a
second discipline concerned with the same problem area

number of selected
countries conventions/treaties
selected countries

Figure 3K: Use of display to study the pattern of adherence to international treaties.

Such a display, together with a second one treaties to subject areas covered, could be used to- highlight subjects or countries in which international treaty coverage did not exist or where there was duplication between treaties.

Figure 3L: Example of an inter-organizationa network displayed on a computer which ighlights organizations of most interest to the user
This gives some indication 1 of the type of display which would be used

J_ or educational or communication munication research purposes. The size of the
symbol used to portray the organization (or meetings, journals, etc.) could be made a function of its 'sociological' or psychological distance' from the user. In this example, the network is focused on the Creative Science Society, as seen by a person with a strong involvement in that body. The emphasis is on nongovernmental bodies.
ntre Creative
World Citizens Association
H.G. Wells Association
Commonwealth h c
'Political Group
1~ Unified Resechl
Creative S
T, f e n
Coordination A 1Crcative
1-Lommitte,e rises Lt&
1 Design and 1In ormation and c-ss omput
Research Society,~
f~--- - >:~ 1 ~ cic-i~j-jand Arts > 1,PlanninC,
-1Insti~tute of
Science Of Science
~Communication Study
.Science and 1'rochnoloAY-Circle
Conservation 2 -ty
i Biosphere
Policy ReseLrc~.tl_ Association

Development Policy As sociation
aced with. this type of display, the iiser may, for example, access detail,-, on any particular organization prior to switching the network to focus on the links based on that organization. The user could also access information on the nature of the links between organizations, their frequency, the status of -proposed modifications, and also simulate
for strengthening By switching to a flowchart presentation, the user could also examine the consequences of eliminating certain links or dissolving particular. organizations, or even of creating new organizations with certain characteristics and links.

An important use of this display would be to inform or brief persons in government or in large organizations who arefrequently faced with the necessity to 'size up' a new inter-organization situation. This is the ideal method of providing an overall view, whilst at the same time permitting exploration of detail to Get a feel for the situation.

Figure 3M: Controls available to the user interacting with the computer and data bank via the visual display terminal

  • A Light-pen: permits user to indicate to the computer individual organizations displayed in a network or flowchart for which some special instruction is to be given via the keyboard; also used for drawing lines and indicating relationships between organizations displayed (eg to show between which points of a twork a specified type of analysis is required).
  • B Organization characteristic keys: the user can define a set of keys (on a typewriter style keyboard) to have special meanings. Use of a key can lead to the display of one particular type of information about a single organization in a displayed network, Keys might be used for: budget range, membership range, frequency of activity., information collecting, storage and republication codes, or any data introduced as a result of a special survey by the user. Similarly keys might be used to request the highlighting of information, membership, policy or financial relationships between. organizatlonal entities.
  • C Organization type keys. the user can supply his own set of categories to distinguish between classes of organizational entity. Organizations of a particular type (e.g. intergovernmental) could be retained on the display by pressing the appropriate keys. Keys might successively draw attention to organizations councils, committees, congresses, symposia, governmental bodies, non-profit private bodies, journals, abstracts, programmes, treaties or any combination of these as defined by the user,
  • D Numeric keys: the user can make use of the numeric keyboard to specify quantitative data about organizational entities or interactions displayed. For example, the user might change the budget code of a particular organization (indicated with the light-pen) in a displayed network or flowchart, in order to study the changed performance of the system under examination. Context keys: the user might wish to look at an organizational network or flowchart in terms of subject geographical )f activity, geographical areas of membership, etc. Keys could be allocated to select the appropriate presentation.
  • F Projection keys: the user might wish to change projection from: 3-D net work, 2-D network, flowchart, etc. Keys could be allocated to select the appropriate presentation, 1,~f Manipulation keys: the user might wish to include or exclude detail, rotate a 3-D network, switch to of a different subject or geographical area of the etc. Keys could be allocated to select the appropriate Change.
  • H Display type keys. the user might wish to switch between a display of organizations, graphs of probable based on textual description etc. Keys could also be allocated to permit the creation of or n the display surface to allow two types of display at same time G... flowchart under study and response curves). I Orderiing ke s: the user might wish to structure a 2-D network so as to place .,v the most -it the top or left hand side, of the d i s p lay, In this financially strong,, policy sources,
    etc, could be

Summarizing keys: the user might wish to summarize a large number of detailed interactions of many organizational entities. AS, for example, the importance of inter-organization or inter-subsystem interactions increases, the detailed f lowcharting c r intra-organization or intra-subsystern interaction can be summarized for calculation and display purposes, on user command, into In thin way any level of the world system can be portrayed.

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