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Annex 11 of Visualization
of International Relationship Networks
(a) Acceptability of network maps:
It is now considered quite acceptable
in many major cities to print and make available to the general public
(often on notice boards or in tourist literature) various schematic maps:
the subway (underground, or metro) network; the urban bus network; and
the suburban railroad network. Travellers are also accustomed to exposure
to documents showing the airline network. Other kinds of network are mapped
for the benefit of workers in specialized sectors (eg oil pipeline
networks, electricity distribution networks, telephone networks, military
communication networks, goods distribution networks, etc). The most
complex map of this type would seem to be that used to summarize (on a
surface 100 x 132 cm) the relationships between over 1000 biochemical compounds
involved in metabolism (See: Gerhard Michal. Biochemical Pathways. Mannheim,
Boehringer Mannheim GmbH, 1974; also, but less complex: D E Nicholson.
Metabolic Pathways. Colnbrook, England, Koch-Light Laboratories, 1974).
The point is that people are now very familiar with such maps in one form
or another and use them, like road maps, to organize their thinking about
the movement of themselves or items with which they are concerned between
distant points embedded in a complex network. No such network maps are
currently available to show the relationships between distant points representing
particular features of the social system. As a result thinking about the
social system and its problems is somewhat chaotic, as would be any discussion
about travel in the absence of adequate maps to provide the necessary frameworks
for such discussion.
(b) Reasons for the lack of societal network maps:
(i) There is much confusion concerning the kinds of entities that can be
distinguished in the social system, due to overlapping systems of categories,
needs, and the maze of associated terminologies.
(ii) Where clarity emerges, it is usually in relation to one particular
entity (eg one holding company and its network of subsidiaries,
or one government agency and its associated bodies); any maps produced
then have that body as the central reference point.
(iii) Much of the required information is scattered through a variety of
reference books and no research has justified its systematic organization.
(iv) Systematic sociological research in the past inverts the focus so
that, for example, instead of determining how many organizations (problems,
etc) there are in a sample in order to determine the number per
capita, the mean number of personal relationships to such entities is determined
on a per capita basis, so that there is no means of determining how many
distinct entities there are to which the relationships are established.
(v) Where such information is collected it is often considered secret because
of its political or economic significance. Examples are (a) the collection
of data on organizations in every country by the civil or military intelligence
units; and (b) the secrecy associated with the subsidiaries owned by a
major (multinational) corporation at any one time and their interrelationships.
(vi) Where the data can be collected, and there is a strong case for doing
so, there is often reluctance to do so because of the problems of data
handling. This is best seen in the (non-societal) case of mapping ecosystem
food webs in which animal species are embedded. There is a multiplicity
of inter-specific "food chains", together with many branches
and cross- connections among food chains making a structure of interactions
called "food webs". The complexity of these food webs is such
that no one has yet worked out the complete pattern of food relationships
and interactions in any natural community. The relationships between 50
species in a given community results in a diagram so full of lines that
it is difficult to follow and this only represents one quarter of the 210
known species in a "simple" community. (David Pimental. Complexity
of ecological systems and problems in their study and management. In: K
E F Webb (Ed) Systems Analysis in Ecology. Academic, 1966, p.15-35).
(vii) Where the research has been done, there is a reluctance to produce
maps because of the tiresome, time-consuming and often costly nature of
the task of doing so, particularly when the networks are complicated.
(c) Psycho-social significance of maps: a parallel: The current
ability to map the societal system may be usefully compared to that of
the European geographical mapping ability during the Middle Ages and earlier.
The changing psycho-social significance and status of maps, since such
early times, provides many clues for understanding the present situation.
Maps in that period were often closely guarded secrets, for military and
economic reasons. And just as the understanding in Europe of non-European
continents was very limited at that time, so today there are only a few
well-known problem areas (such as: population, food, peace, etc).
Each such territory (or "feudal state") is more or less poorly
controlled by a few major organizations (the "cities") with a
few well-established links between them (the "roads" or "rivers").
The relations between these feudal states are the limit of concern. Few
people travellong distances and when they do, in the absence of readily
available maps, they use "experts" to guide them from point to
point. Other continents are only vaguely known (and are widely held to
be populated by mythical monsters). Each group is content with artistic
or impressionistic two-dimensional maps centred on its own organization
(or field of concern), confidently held to be the prime mover in the social
system as perceived from that point of reference. The significance of any
three-dimensional representation is not recognized and a flat-earth perspective
Under such conditions, it is easy to understand the psychological and communication
difficulties which make it impossible to achieve any general galvanization
of political will in response to world problems. Each sector is content
with its own sketchy local map (if any is held to be required) of the problem
environment, and there is little concern for whether such local maps mesh
together with those of neighbouring territories or into a general map of
the region. Communication therefore frequently breaks down and moments
of solidarity are soon forgotten. Warring between feudal territories is
common. The state called "energy", clashes with that called "environment".
Alliances are formed and each state has imperialistic ambitions: "development"
wants to incorporate "environment"; "environment" lays
claim to the territory of "development", and all are claimed
by the territory called "peace". Lacking maps, assemblies of
individuals and groups from different problem territories are pathetic.
The people from "heavy rainfall" areas cannot understand the
constant harping on water by people from "desert" areas; the
people from "arctic" areas cannot relate meaningfully to those
from "tropical" zones.
The history of the evolution of geographical perceptions, and the tools
that have been required to move humanity towards a global perception, indicate
the kinds of difficutly which have to be faced. (The much-used NASA photograph
of Earth from space is only significant as a symbol because people know
that they can relate its features to the map of the world in their own
atlas in order to be able to locate their home town, for which they also
have a detailed local map, to which they can relate their personally acquired
knowledge.) Local maps are needed which mesh into global maps, so that
each can see his place in any world problem strategy and so that global
decision-making can relate to the tactical problems of groups as perceived
in each community.
Problem maps (bound together into "atlases") are needed to help
individuals see and appreciate the relationships, distances and differences
between problem territories. And it should be possible to relate these
to organization (and other) maps, just as any atlas has contour maps, climatic
maps and political maps of the same region. Individuals, whether students,
executives, researchers, or policy makers, have at least as much need for
such visual devices to orient themselves in the social system as they have
for road and other currently available maps.
Hopefully it will be possible to reach a stage at which such maps can be
produced as standard conference documentation as a means of providing background
documentation for debates, and in order to sharpening the focus of debate.
Clearly the debate itself should lead to proposals for the amendment of
such maps (as a result of the recognition of: new issues, relationships
between problems, proposals for organizations or programmes, or new relationships
between organizations, etc). New versions of such maps, or hypothetical
maps (eg of organizational systems) could be fed into later sessions
of the same meeting or used as one form of summary of the achievements
of the meeting.
(d) Production of network maps:
Once the information on societal
entities is held on computer it becomes possible to overcome many of the
obstacles to map production noted above. Computers are currently used to
plot out electronic circuit diagrams and other types of network onto large
charts. The computer programmes handle the tedious problem of designing
such charts, including the use of appropriate colours to distinguish between
different features of the network (or networks) on the same chart. (Artists,
designers and communications psychologists can also introduce an aesthetic
component to facilitate comprehansion).This approach has the considerable
advantage that different designs (based on the same data) may be tried
or used for different purposes. Some designs may be highly simplified,
others may be very complex. New maps can be easily produced if the original
data is modified. The data base used may be the same as that used for interactive
studies of the network so that both approaches may be integrated under
the control of a researcher.
However, although the computer programmes exist for the production of two-
dimensional maps, there are difficulties still to be overcome in the representation
of three (or n) dimensional networks on a two-dimensional surface, if such
complex representations are necessary. Some of these mathematical and associated
problems (of projections) have been examined by geographers interested
in producing a more accurate representation of the spherical Earth on a
map. Experiments have been made with a number of alternatives which each
have their advantages. The data collected together on computer for this
publication should encourage and facilitate similar experiments in societal
network map production.
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principles of learning useful in teaching with or without the participation
of computers. Educational Policy Research Center, Stanford Research Institute,
4. Jay Forrester. World Dynamics. Cambridge, Wright-Allen, 1971, p.14-15.
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8. Harold D. Lasswell. The transition toward more sophisticated procedures.
In: D B Bobrow and J L Schwartz (Ed). Computers and the Policy-making Community;
applications to international relations. Prentice-Hall,
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10. George M Beal, et al. System linkages among women's organizations. Department
of Sociology and Anthropology, Iowa State University, 1967.
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M Colby and D C Smith. Dialogue Between Humans and an Artificial Belief
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Artificial Intelligence Project, 1970 (Memo AIM-125).
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the Data Base of a Human Belief Structure. Stanford Univeristy, Artificial
Intelligence Project, 1969 (Memo AI-94).
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to the theory of directed graphs. Wiley, 1965.
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24. Anthony Judge. From Networking to Tensegrity Organization. Brussels,
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28. John C Loehlin. Computer Models of Personality. Random House,
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les cartes. The Hague, Mouton, 1973; and Walter Herdeg (Ed). Graphis/Diagrams;
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36. "Interactive graphics": This term is used widely to cover
both the more common alphascopes, which can display letters and numbers
on predetermined lines, and the vector displays with light-pen facility,
which can also generate lines and curves. It is the latter device which
is discussed here. See, for example: Interactive graphics in date processing.
IBM Systems Journal, 7, 3 and 4, 1968, whole double issue
R E Green
and R D Parslow (Ed). Computer Graphics in Management. Gower Press,
R D Parslow and R E Green (Ed). Advanced Computer Graphics;
economics, techniques and applications. Plenum Press, 1970, 1250p.