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
- 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
- (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)
|Business (excluding research)
Government (excluding education, health, research)
social work 2
trade and professional
| Grand totals
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)
||Number of Studies
|United Nations UN and other IGO
|International business organization
|35 2 10 3 3
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
- United Nations (1),
- U.N. Agencies (27)
- Intergovernmental organizations (201)
- International business
- 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
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
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
(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
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
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
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
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
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
- 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
- knowledge or interest for its own sake
- purposeful activity; rewards (internal - external)
- group orientation; action - consequences of action
conceptual framework for action
- action; criteria for action -- tradition
immediately practical value - theoretical or abstract value
solution to immediate visible problems
- long-term planning and condition contro
statically conceived spatio-temporal environment
active approach to environmental disturbance
- passive/fatalistic approach
sense of urgency
- power; tender-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
- -- 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
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.
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
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
INTERGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION FOR DEVELOPMENT TECHNICAL PROBLEMS
(AGREEMENIT SIGNED: 1953; CURRENT MEMBERSHIP: 20 STATES, 2 ASSOCIATE) (INFORMATION ON
NATIONAL REPRESENTATIVES ON EACH COMMITTEE: ON FILE TO MARCH 1969)
0049 0050 0051 0052 0053 0054 0055 0056 0057 0058 0059 0060 C061
SUBJECT: TURBINE MANUFACTURE DECISIONS
0001GENERAL ASSEMBLY (ART. 9; PLENARY; 1954; 3 YEARLY MTG; REPORT)
0002 GENERAL EXECUTIVE (ART. 9,10; OPERATIONS COORDINATION; 1953; QTLY MTG;
0038 APPLICATION DIVISION (ART. 17; 1960)
0039 ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT (1960)
0040 COMMITTEE Or STANDARDIZATION (L/A9; 1961)
0041 SUBCOMMITTEE ON DOCUMENTATION (M/13; 1961)
0042 WORKING GROUP ON TERMINOLOGY (Z/62; 1961)
0043 ADVISORY COMMITTEE 01,7 PATENTS (A/9; 1963)
0044 MECHANICAL IFCIWTICIkL COMMITTEE (B/11; 1963)
0045 WATER POWER CONTROL GROUP (P/4 1964)
0046 WATER POWER SECTION (P/5; 1964)
0047 TASK GROUP ON MODERNIZATION OF TRADITIONAL EQUIPMENT (P/6; 1968)
0048 SUBCOMMITTEE ON CHARACTERISTICS OF TRADITIONAL EQUIPMENT IN S.E. ASIA
COMMITTEE ON TURBINE'S (Q/3; 1964) TURBINE GROUP W/ ; 1965) CORROSION GROUP (N/16; 1967) AD
HOC STUDY GROUP ON NEW MATERIALS (A/42; 1968) DESIGN GROUP (N/9; 1966) PROPEL= TURBINES
TURBINE MANUFACTURE WORKING PARTY (R/1; 1969) DAM CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY GROUP (S/32;
1964) POWER PLANT CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY GROUP (S/4; 1967) RIVER STUDY GROUP (E 2; 1964)
METEOROLGICAL GROUP (E/3; 1965) ADVISORY GROUP ON NATIONAL APPLICATIONS PLANNING (A/10;
AD HOC GROUP ON RIVER CONTROL POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS (A/11; 1966)
(INDEXING OPTIONS SELECT= SUBJECT/BODIES RESPONSIBLE CONTACTS NATIONAL
(A selection of possible indexes is shown in Fig. 3C)
Figure 3C: Examples of possible indexes to Figures 3A and 3B
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:
|SUBJECT AREA KEYWORD-A
- SUB-SUB-BODY-1 RESPONSIBLE ADDRES S. 0 ... SUB-DODY-1 RESPONSIBLE ADDRESS...
- BODY-1 RESPONS IBLE ADDRESS...
- BODY-2 RESPONSIBLE ADDRESS...
- SUB-BODY-3 RESPONSIBLE ADDRESS....
- BODY-3 RESPONSIBLE ADDRESS...
SUBJECT AREA KEYWORD-B
- 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:
|INTERGOVERNMENTAL COMMITTEE ON RIVER POLICY - ITALY - R.S. PERINI (1968)
TEC HNICAL ADVISOR RIVER PROTECTION SECTION MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE - UNITED KINGDOM -
L.N. BROWN (1966) COORDINATOR ADVISORY GROUP ON, RIVER POLLUTION MINISTRY OF
TECHNOLOGY - N.P. SMITHERS (1967) RESEARCH DIRECTOR RIVER NAVIGATION INSTITUTE HOME
OFFICE - etc....
I rn NTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR RIVER PROTECTION - etc....
- 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,
|CANADA - MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES - PL.ANT PROTECTION DIVISION
INTERGOVERNMENTAL COMMITTEE 01,1 PLANTS FAO ADVISORY GROUP ON PLANTS
INTER-AMERICAN PLANT PROTECTION ORGANIZATION
- SALMON FISHING DIVISION
- EAST ATLANTIC SALMON FISHING BUREAU ... etc..
- MINISTRY OF, TECHNOLOGY
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - ...etc...
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
NO SX TR
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
P' FFF71PIT'F' M- IT, FFFFFF, FFFFF: PQ.: RrIMFIMF ... W..
LR CCUCC: PN
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.
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
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.
0 i ' \
selected subject areas
Figure 3J: Simplified example of use of the display to study interdisciplinary, cross-jurisdictional contact patterns
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
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.
World Citizens Association
H.G. Wells Association
Commonwealth h c
1~ Unified Resechl
T, f e n
Coordination A 1Crcative
1-Lommitte,e rises Lt&
1 Design and 1In ormation and c-ss omput
f~--- - >:~ 1 ~ cic-i~j-jand Arts > 1,PlanninC,
Science Of Science
.Science and 1'rochnoloAY-Circle
Conservation 2 -ty
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
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.