Tentative Basis for the Design and Build-up of a Network File
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Annex I of Need for a World Management
to Assist Initiation and Coordination of Global Development Programmes
A network file structure should not stress unnecessarily the difference between
types of organization and link, since whatever definitions are used different
types blend into one another. Similarities between types may be greater than
the distinctions. Accented distinctions should be possible but should not distort
the file structure.
A network file structure can therefore be conceived as made up of nodes and
links. The nodes can be organizations of any kind, programmes independent
of any particular organizations, agreements or treaties, and information systems
or meetings which are independent of any particular organization. The links
can be divided into two types. An input link indicates that a particular
node receives information, funds, nonfinancial aid, etc. from the node to which
it is linked. Such links may also represent the membership relationship of members
of the node. An output link indicates that a particular node sends information,
funds, non-financial aid, etc. to, or is a member of the node to which
it is linked. Links could also represent consultative, collaborative, informal
and other relationships if necessary.
The file should be structured so that as funds become available it can be
constantly extended in coverage and detail from the most crucial areas for coordination
to the operational levels, without any need to follow any predetermined order
of development. The stored information should be of optimum utility at each
stage, in order that it should immediately justify funds allocated to the project.
Two codes could be used to describe each link. For example, in the case of
an information link, the first code might indicate what type of information
was received or sent: programme control information, programme administration
information, bibliographic data, statistical data, news items, official notifications,
etc. The second code could give some indication of the amount of this information.
A description of each node could be built up in the following sequence as
the information became available as a result of other programmes or as its collection
becomes justified. Completion of each stage can be scheduled for each programme
area at different times.
- Name/address data
- Major activity keywords
- Node number (allocated by computer on the basis of geographical location,
geographical programme coverage, field of activity and a sequence number
- Date code to indicate date of confirmation of accuracy of data
Node administration type (governmental, non-governmental, business,
Node organization type (organization, commission, ad hoc committee,
regular meeting, information system, agreement, etc.)
Descriptive coding, which could include codes for: age of node/projected/dead
frequency of activity (daily operations through to 5 --yearly
budget size range
Activity or performance codes could be developed to cover such distinctions
between nodes as: type and number of members, type and number of members
of member nodes, coordinative activity, independence (e.g. extent of policy
initiation), etc. These codes could perhaps, in some cases, be established
by computer analysis of the links to other nodes, so that it may not be
necessary, to store the information separately.
Security codes to indicate on what information authority the data can
be updated and to what categories of inquirer node and link information
can be released.
Input and output link descriptor codes
Stage 3: Summary of major input and output links giving:
type, number of that type, frequency of link operation
Stage 4: Extension of Stage 3 codes by addition of the link addresses
for each major type. For each type of link a code would be stored by the machine
indicating where the list of machine addresses for the nodes linked was stored.
This would enable the computer to trace through the network of
inter-linking memberships or information systems, for example.
Stage 5: Extension of Stage 4-codes by distinguishing between major
types of links.
Stage 6: Addition of a machine address indicating
the location of a textual description of the organization, or links.
Stage 7 Addition of minor link types and addresses.
The final format of the record in computer memory, if it was considered
necessary to include all stages for the node in question, could be:
Number of links of that type
Frequency of link operation
Machine address of address list of nodes linked
Plumber of links of that type
Storage address of node textual description
The file build-up schedule could follow the sequence: intergovernmental,
international non-governmental, national governmental, national non-governmental,
multinational business, etc. Related internal technical committees, programmes,
meetings and information systems could be included simultaneously or whenever
convenient. The schedule could be modified whenever there was interest in
the development of a particular type of organization or field of activity
and as funds became available.
The schedule of detail build-up (Stages 1 - 7 -above) could
also be designed with the greatest flexibility. Just as it is not necessary
to do all the international organizations before important national groups,
it is also not necessary to ensure that any particular group of organizations
has been built up through any particular level of detail.
The entire build-up schedule can therefore be based on availability
of information, utility, and fund availability.
Classes of User and Finance for Continued Operation
The main classes of user could be:
- large organizations, such as the UN, which subsidise the system to ensure
the existence of an up to date overall
picture of the world system to facilitate programme coordination and initiation
- organizations which subscribe to ensure immediate automatic notification
of changes in a particular field or which want
a one-off picture of the other organizations, programmes, etc. with
which they should be in contact following any such changes
- organizations wishing to use the system for distribution of documentation
e.g. meeting invitations, project information, meeting or programme reports,
sales department advertising material, etc., or which wish to use the system
to obtain survey addresses and send questionnaires to prepare detailed directories
on a particular group
- research institutes using the system as a data base for simulation purposes
The file information could be stored centrally with:
duplicates of the whole or part of the file stored in regional or national
centres, agencies and other organizations for management, research and administrative
Examples of Analysis of the Network useful to Programme formulation
The links between nodes in problem area Z indicate that contact could
be improved at the international (or local level, between the international
and national levels, or a cross discipline and administrative boundaries
in a multi disciplinary problem area. For xample, Node A is operating in
the same programme area as B and C, but they are not in contact.
Node A produces much information on a current problem which is not collected
together anywhere and there is no channel to Node B which is the collecting
area for that topic.
- A new sub-committee, Node A, of a large organization is not in contact
with Node B which has been operating a programme on the
same topic for some time.
- Programme funds are being channelled through Node A when Node B has a more
extensive and better coordinated network of contacts. A minimum cost/maximum
could operate by working with Nodes A-K and P-R.
The possible future demands on any such network file structure need to be
studied carefully in order to:
- clarify the concept of node and link in this context
- obtain a satisfactory multi-lingual thesaurus to facilitate allocation
- determine the optimum amount of detail required in terms of different user
- work out unambiguous and useful methods of coding the descriptions and
evaluating the many types of link and node
The major design criterion is that the file structure should
facilitate computer analysis of weaknesses in coordination and coverage of problem areas in order to indicate critical points in the network
through which remedial action can be channelled.
The design should also permit or foresee:
- use of the file for envelope addressing (to provide a source of finance)
- use of display screens to give a visual picture of parts of the network
- display and analysis of the effects of suggested modifications to the network
- data exchange and update through the national and international data links
- between computers, which are scheduled for the 1970s.