Visualization of the International Organization Network
The UIA as an international data bank
- / -
The most probable assumption is that every single one of
the old demarcations, disciplines and faculties is going to become obsolete
and a barrier to learning as well as to understanding. The fact that we
are shifting from a Cartesian view of the universe, in which the accent
has been on parts and elements, to a configuration view, with the emphasis
on wholes and patterns, challenges every single dividing line between areas
of' study and knowledge. (P.F. Drucker, The Age of Discontinuity; guidelines
to our changing society.) 
A French version of this article was published in the
(June 1970). English, French, Dutch, German, Italian
and Spanish versions appeared in the series Textes et Documents
by the Ministhre des Affaires Etranghres et du Commerce Exterieur of the
Belgian Government. It also appeared in a document entitled Union
of International Associations 1910-1970: Past, Present, Future
UIA, 1970) and in International Associations
, 22, 1970, pp. 265-281 [PDF version
a French version
available in PDF image-file versions in English
Since its creation in 1910, the idea governing the programmes of the
Union of International Associations (UIA)
has been to use information in such a way as to maintain and disseminate
a comprehensive overall view of world society "une perspective d'ensemble".
This has always meant remaining open to information from every sector of
human activity across ideological and other barriers - a stance which is
in itself extremely rare in a period of increasing specialization. The
amount of information quickly created pressure to concentrate not on the
documents produced - a static focus on the past but on the producers of
the documents and programmes - a dynamic focus on the present and potential
future. This then led the UIA to concentrate on international bodies -
both governmental and nongovernmental - as the potential focal points for
the coordination of activity or the exchange of information, and thus the
key to a balanced view of world society.
The information collected was first made available in the Yearbook
of International Organisations  and other publications
and this procedure has been continued since the Second World War . Since
1945, however, two significant trends have developed to the point where an entirely
new look at the UIA's role and possibilities is necessary.
The first of these is the considerable increase in the amount and degree
of interrelatedness of the information necessary to an adequate "vue d'ensemble",
for which the traditional manual documentalist approach is almost completely
inadequate. These developments and some associated social problems are
explored in the next sections together with UIA plans for a computer-based
information centre. The second is the incredible development in the technology
of information processing and computers which not only offers the key to
the solution of the UIA.'s traditional difficulties, but also opens up
exciting vistas of totally unsuspected and much more powerful methods of
conveying the "vue d'ensemble" in a more dynamic integrated way. It suggests
means of using this perspective more skillfully as one key to many important
problems in society. Some of these possibilities are explored in later
Over the past twenty years the number of organizations concerned
with a given subject or problem area has increased considerably . The
growth in the number of independent organizations has been paralleled by
a fragmentation within them as their size has grown. This has. led
to a proliferation of agencies, commissions, divisions and sub-sections
 Accompanying these trends is an uncharted growth in the variety
of forms of organized activity, which is particularly evident in business
enterprises and in mixed business-government-research bodies.
Within and between large organizations, sub-section structures ramify
to the point of overlap .
These developments have a direct impact on the treatment of data about
organizations and their activities within the world system. The value of
grouping organizations into neat categories, based haphazardly on out-of-date
concepts becomes highly questionable.
Some examples of the superficiality of conventional distinctions are
: a small "organization" meeting rarely with few activities and a regular
"meeting" of a large number of people; the tendency of "programmes" to
be transformed into "organizations" as in the case of the World Food Programme;
the variation in the meaning of "profit" and "non_profit" organizations
from country to country, and even from state to state (within the U.S.A.);
the variation in the meaning of "international" to include bodies with
99 % of their members in one country, "national" bodies acting internationally,
bodies with members in three small European countries, but to exclude "national"
bodies with members in all the constituent republics of the U.S.S.R.; the
variation of the meaning of "intergovernmental " to exclude Interpol, the
Bildeberg Group and "nongovernmental", "front" organisations, but to include
organizations grouping representatives of the constituent states of the
U.S.A., and the existence of "nongovernmental" organizations in the
Furthermore, under certain conditions a governmental body, or journal,
etc. may be per-forming the functions of nongovemmental, or business bodies,
etc. in other situations . In addition, organizations may become from
year to year more or less governmental, profit-oriented, international,
etc., depending on fluctuation in membership, sources of finance, nationality
of decision -makers, choice of programme, etc.
The ease with which thinking is trapped into one or two of these categories
has important consequences. Current official use of "international" to
mean "inter-governmental" leads people into "the elementary error of identifying
the state with the whole hierarchy of social institutions" .
The majority of international relations research has swung onto intergovemmental
relations whilst ignoring other possible interactions between nations and
their citizens. A survey of research in the period 1960-1969 showed that
66 % dealt with the United Nations (28 agencies), 85 % with intergovemmental
organizations (229 bodies), 14 % with international nongovernmental bodies
(2577 bodies), and 0 % with international business organizations (2819
bodies). No research dealt with the relations between organ izations .
The situation at the national level is no better .
Whilst the conventional categories may be perfectly adequate for conventional
problems over a short period of time, a new problem may require a crosscategory
grouping of organizations or other types of structure. The flux of problems
requires new ways of looking at this "organized complexity". It becomes
necessary to take the emphasis off the conventional concept of an organization
as an isolated unit and place it on the web of relationships into which
an organization is embedded . The problem to be solved is that of designing
a data bank to reflect this level of complexity.
The first difficulty to be faced is that due to the educational background
supplied by Cartesian thinking, few mental models exist to contain the
shifting patterns of organized activity evoked in the last section .
It is so much easier to simplify the situation, ignoring inconvenient organizations
or vaguely understood relationships, so that it may be handled with the
aid of a small number of categories.
There is however one fairly common concept which evokes the complexity
required, whilst lending itself at the same time to mathematical treatment
and computer processing methods. This is the concept of a network .
Just as a fishing net is made up of strings crossing at knots, it is possible
to visualize each organized entity as being represented by a node (knot)
linked or related to other nodes in a complex network. The links (strings)
may be flows of information, funds, goods, or more concrete in the form
of telephone lines or roadways. The nodes may be in the most general sense
any information processing entities such as organizations, programmes,
individuals, bibliographies, etc. Unlike fishing nets, the organizational
network is not flat or two- dimensional but is very definitely multidimensional.
It is useful to think of organized entities one is able to detect as being
spread through a multidimensional space in a manner similar to the spread
of the stars through the galaxy "around the Earth". There are clusters
of organizations with related interests, organizations which appear (from
a given viewpoint) to be of greater significance than others which can
be barely detected, etc.
The network of organizations is not a rigid unchanging structure. To
be useful as a concept it must reflect the dynamism of society. It is therefore
possible to visualize certain nodes as being visible for only a short time,
as in the case of ad hoc meetings on a new subject or perhaps a 6-month
project, or of being visible intermittently (with a characteristic frequency
and type), as in the case of regular series. of meetings. Similarly, the
links between nodes might be permanent, corresponding to lines of responsibility
between an organization and a dependent body, or only intermittent (with
a characteristic frequency and type), corresponding to regular exchanges
of information, or participation in a meeting, etc.
Visualization of the total network gives to an "observer" the impression
of nodes and links activating with such rhythms as to create shifting patterns
of relationships between modes. These are currently only registered semi-
intuitively, making the structure of society difficult to objectify. There
is a lack of suitable terminology to describe such concepts and to provide
an objective conceptual framework for such historically defined conventional
social building blocks as " nongovernmental", "nonprofit", etc. organizations.
A strong case could be made for replacing these inadequate and negative
terms by the general and dynamic term "net". In which case, all information
processing entities could be treated as nets with different characteristics,
but nevertheless linking together or blending into one another to form
more and more comprehensive networks. The lack of some such term reinforces
the misconception that society is structured in a manner corresponding
to the terms developed to delimit organized entities for specific limited
purposes such as tax legislation, the law of contract, etc.
The current lack of ability to focus effectively on social structure
for both academic and planning purposes has restricted thinking
to the individual as an economic unit. Bertram Gross notes that the division
of human beings into categories is less significant than the network
of relationships between them, but that United Nations world surveys make
no attempt to identify the resultant structure, restricting attention to
"certain minimum welfare concepts" developed a decade earlier . Such
reports give statistics on the number of cinemas, newspapers, radios, etc.
per capita - the methods of informing, and influencing individuals from
centres of power. No details are given on the groups and interlacing structures
via which individuals express, protect and further their particular interests
to determine the direction of development of society.
The evident complexity of the organization of society has largely arisen
because of the need for organized response to newly recognized areas of
knowledge and activity. The knowledge explosion and the time required to
master any activity has accelerated the division of labour and increased
the number of specialists and disciplines and the fragmentation of disciplines
The rapidity with which the frontiers of knowledge have been pushed
back in different subject areas has meant that people committed to one
area or mode of knowledge may be totally unaware of the significance to
society or to themselves of activities in other areas - and furthermore
it may be very difficult for them, even if they desire to do so, to locate
or comprehend information on this significance.
An example is the narrow focus on an increase in the efficiency of "development"
programmes and information systems in the context of the 2nd United
Nations Development Decade, when it is precisely during this period that
more sophisticated information systems will be required to guarantee adequate
information on the environmental and pollution problems known to
be caused directly by uncoordinated, misdirected or over-development .
Each group of persons committed to one area of knowledge or activity
is from its own viewpoint, surrounded by a more or less chaotic collection
of activities of barely understood importance. A useful picture of the
situation may be obtained by adapting a theme in future-oriented novels
concerning the period in the history of mankind when man will have long
left Earth to colonize planetary bodies throughout the universe. The point
made is that in this situation it is highly probable that distance, time
and communication problems and the relatively much greater psychological
pull of events in local planetary society will isolate each group into
independently developing sub- cultures which will eventually have no clear
memory of their common origin on Earth or of the structure of the universe
in parts distant from them. In man's colonization of, and commitment to,
the different domains in the universe of knowledge, the equivalent of this
situation may already be considered to exist. Each group therefore considers
its own disciplines of most relevance to the solution of any problem
- or else considers the problem to be of relative insignificance, or
someone else's responsibility.
For example, "Suppose that an organizational problem is completely solvable
by one of the disciplines we have considered (political science, economics,
sociology, etc.) .... 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 ... would be
very fruitful, if not the most fruitful... " 
The traditional possibility of "acting as though nature were organized
into disciplines in the same way that universities are"  is now challenged
by complex social and environmental problems. For "as systems analysts
know, few of the problems that arise can adequately be handled within any
one discipline.... Complete understanding ...requires an integration of
these perspectives .... The integration must come during not after the
The counterpart to the relationship between disciplines is that between
the problems themselves. It is recognized that "they are so interrelated
that to proceed to try to solve any one of them in isolation from the others
is often to create more problems than are solved by the effort." .
This is unfortunately matched by a situation in which, for example, "Virtually
the entire legal, intellectual, and administrative base of the redevelopment
and urban renewal programs throughout the United States is based on the
intensive treatment of a fragment of the problem." . An adequate world
system-oriented data bank cannot therefore afford to be frozen into concern
for any particular problem area, whether development, peace, education,
etc. It must be possible to switch between each perspective, combine them
and above all be prepared for new perspectives.
The design of an information system focussing on the world system must
not only take into account the complex developments in organization systems,
knowledge and problem areas, it must also make allowance for the increase
in the relationship between different uses of such an information system.
World system data is not only of value for academic research in such
fields as international relations and political science. Such data is also
required by those groups concerned in different ways with the control of
change, namely planners, politicians, policy-makers and the managers
of large, complex organizations. The value to them of a comprehensive information
system is that it draws to their attention those features of the environment
or context which affect, or are affected by, the organization system with
which they are concerned. Under present planning methods a precise mandate
is usually sufficient to ensure that many extra-systemic factors go unconsidered.
This leads to a situation where recommendations are made for an organization,
to the satisfaction of all concerned, which totally ignore problems which
have their origin in the environment of the organization - problems which
will only become evident when the recommendations are implemented. The
relevance of such factors outside the organization may have only been detected
through academic research. It is at this point that the importance of interaction
between research and planning is highlighted. It is the function of research
to establish the interaction between factors, and it is the function of
the planner to formulate recommendations on what he knows to be relevant.
If the research information system is totally separate from that used
for planning and programme management then there will be no adequate channel
of communication between the two groups and: (a) research resources will
not be directed toward the problems to which planners are exposed but will
instead tackle problems and produce results not structured to the planner's
needs; (b) planners will have to formulate recommendations on the basis
of concepts which were out-of-date in research circles perhaps up to a
Similar importance may be attached to the use of world system data for
public information purposes, programme administration purposes, documentation,
education (in universities and schools), and, perhaps most important, to
guarantee democratic participative decision-making processes. Each use
requires an extra item of data. The usual difficulty associated with developing
a common data base is that in each case the data is apparently organized
differently there is no common element in terms of which each form of data
could be structured. The reason for this is the traditional focus on the
data produced in its many forms rather than the producers of
the data. Focus on the latter supplies the common element required.
The importance of all the many interactions between these different
uses of data cannot be explored here. It should however be clear that any
factors hindering or delaying interaction - particularly the creation of
independent non-compatible systems for each function by unrelated organizations
or departments, creates communication lags which immediately give rise
to new misconceptions, unnecessary social problems, and an associated waste
of resources. An example of this is the Jackson Report where recommendations
on the United Nations Development System  research and programme administration
systems ignore the need for a related public information system, although
recognizing at the same time that an informed public opinion is the key
to development .
Any new research insight concerning the world system should rapidly
affect policymaking, education, public information, etc. The same is true
for innovations in each other area. Developments in each functional area
must increasingly mesh smoothly together and reinforce one another instead
of proceeding in leaps and start. Information systems constitute the nervous
system of planetary society. The fragmented approach to their design and
use would seem to lead directly to social crises analogous to those found
in case of certain disorders of the nervous system, as though the world
system was some organizational dinosaur suffering from spastic paralysis
and aphasia. Integrated development can only be achieved if the information
system is designed for multi- purpose use.
Consequences of complexity
The very marked tendency to conceive of each organization, subject,
problem and function as unrelated to others creates a situation in which
people and groups become trapped with a limited understanding of the consequences
and context of the activities in which they are engaged. Not only is it
almost impossible to control existing problems but << there is a
real danger that the process by which new concepts of management control
are invented and developed may itself be out of control..." .
As aspects of the social crisis currently faced are detected - to the
point of becoming a magnet for private concern or, at a later stage, government
action - new organisations and information systems are created in response
to each stimulus. By the time the new structures are operational and careers
have been dedicated to them, they often become a positive hindrance to
the solution of the original problem, which is then recognized to he dependent
on factors not included in the organization's original mandate. This is
revealed in the light of newly acquired under standing of the nature and
ramification of the problem's setting in the total social crisis. The developmerit
of this understanding is an ongoing process.
The mistake frequently made - often deliberately to gain the oversimplification
necessary for effective political activity - is to consider this process
completed at some point - giving a final definition of a single challenge
to civilization e.g. peace, hunger, education, development, youth, pollution,
etc. The danger arises when one such problem is suddenly set up through
political processes as the major focus for resources - with no awareness
of the context of the problem - in the hopes that this will prove to be,
or give promise of being, the ultimate key to the totality of problems.
A new or better definition of the problem does not justify a complete switch
of resources. Although it may lead to dramatic solutions of particular
problems, it may jeopardize the process of finding and implementing solutions
in new and related problems - because of its initial blinding success (or
the interest vested in its supposed eventual success).
It is this process of problem detection and solution which must be conceptually
contained. The organizations and information systems should be structured
to handle changing definitions of problems and problems requiring different
strategies (e.g. different speeds of response) rather than fall victim
to each new definition of the key to the social crisis and its related
The hiatus created as society is forced to jump blindly from problem
to problem is caused by the obsolescence and inadequacy of the organization
and information systems structured to handle the << outgoing" problems
only. Such systems are not organized for change and are therefore destroyed
by change. The destruction may take the form of natural decay accompanied
by the ageing of powerful supporters who have identified with the structure
or, increasingly, by sudden "violent " liquidation because the presence
of the structures is seen to actively resist or obscure the needed change.
All change is obviously not radical and it is important to distinguish
change as taking place at different rates at many levels from the barely
significant to the fundamental. If this graduation is apparent and understood
then clearly the need for a minor structural change will not entail - through
a process of guilt by association - unnecessary fundamental change, which
would sweep away valuable social structures.
The consequence of the perceived complexity of society as explored in
earlier sections is however to obscure thoroughly this graduation (except
for some elites), thus magnifying the perceived extent of guilt by association,
to the point of justifying to some the total destruction of all structures
- total revolution. Complexity is equivalent to a lack of transparency
to comprehension. It is because of this lack of transparency that the organizational
form becomes inseparable from the visible negative consequences of organizational
activity. Perceived complexity prevents people from locating organisations
that are effectively tackling a given question, or makes them rightly suspicious
that those located are only fronts for inactivity. This leads either to
the creation of new organizations and information systems which compound
the complexity, or to frustration, claustrophobia and alienation of the
The question is whether the process of change can be contained whilst
at the same time reducing the instability provoked by lack of transparency.
Clearly if the organizational structures are conceived of both in terms
of inadequate restrictive categories and as isolated one from the other,
then critics will suggest that whole categories of organizations should
be swept away because of the lack of effective means of detecting, or making
apparent, the adequate from the inadequate - it is the category of bodies
as a "system" which is then condemned.
If however a network approach is used and generally understood, the
inadequacy of a particular link, or sub - sub -network, can be pin-pointed
without the need to reject all associated links and nodes because of lack
of transparency. It is a case of the scalpel rather than the sledgehammer.
This approach offers a conceptual framework for the process of change,
since the links changing at any one time will tend to form part of a sub-
network for which the encompassing network remains unchanged. The problem
is how to objectify this framework so that its possibilities can be realized.
Once achieved, this would permit democratic protest to be pinpointed
as a disagreement concerning specific links or sub-networks within an unquestioned
encompassing network rather than as at present, where the parties split
into camps with no perceptible common framework.
The UIA Inter-Contact System
The preceding sections reveal many opportunities to be seized
in order to obtain a more realistic and powerful "vue d'ensemble" through
the design of a world system-oriented data bank to be used and continually
developed over the coming decades. Some of these opportunities are
closely linked to major social problems which it would be presumptuous
to believe that any organization could solve single-handed. The UIA can
however - in solving its own information handling problems - create a tool
which will provide a valuable integrated perspective on many of these problems
and particularly on the organizational network which is the key to tackling
Action is now being taken to collect together in a computer information on
the internationally significant nodes and links in the world system network.
A portion of this information already exists as the text descriptions of each
international organization in the Yearbook
of Internationnal Organizations .These descriptions may consist
solely of an address or extend to several pages of text. The old text presentation
has however to be broken down to enable the computer to pick out each link associated
with a given organization or its subsections, in order to treat the data in
network terms. Thus an organization has a link to member organizations, each
linked perhaps to its own member organization, and in turn to individuals. In
terms of its organization chart, it is broken down into divisions and sections
forming different networks of nodes and links. It is linked to other organizations
for a variety of purposes (e.g. as a member, for receipt of aid, or collaboration
on a programme). It may be linked to the network constituted by a regular conference
and the organizations represented there, or by a periodical distribution, etc.
And of course it is linked to its officers who may themselves have roles in,
and thus be linked to, other organizations. (It is instructive to conceive of
the individual as organizing roles - the roles being "members" of the individual
in network terms and through such roles he may be the key node linking
government, academic and university bodies.) The information collected is not
limited to the contents of one Yearbook. The contact addresses (including libraries,
national and local groups, multinational business enterprises, embassies, government
agencies, etc) which the UIA uses to distribute its journal  are also included
as part of a planned long-term development to focus on the national and local
points of activity which are of importance internationally.
Similarly it is planned to extend coverage to include other types of
node on which the UIA has collected data in the past : meetings , programmes
and projects, periodicals , meeting reports , etc. In each case
the relationship of each node to other nodes will be indicated.
The advantage of this approach is that any point or node in the network
of information already incorporated may be used as a nucleus for further
growth. The minimum information held on each is that necessary to contact
the node, namely the name and address. Growth may take the form of incorporating
details on the network of organs which make up the internal structure of
the node contacted, or on the bodies to which the node is linked - so that
link by link an organic picture of particular sectors emerges. The directions
of growth are not pre-planned. The UIA has a vested interest in emphasizing
the international picture, but whenever interested groups are prepared
to supply funds to develop the network in a particular sector - health,
agriculture, etc - or a particular country, or any combination of characteristics
this will be done. A currently important counterpart to the focus on the
international end of the international -local dimension, is that on the
multidisciplinary end of the specialization dimension. Funds may therefore
he allocated to locating and including multidisciplinary bodies whether
international or local.
The data bank will develop in several other senses. Increasingly more
sophisticated methods will be used in association with university groups
to analyze the network to improve understanding of the world system. In
particular it is hoped to maintain links with the International Relations
Program (Northwestern University, USA), International Peace Research Institute
(Oslo University), and a group developing in the USSR which will use a
powerful cybernetic approach - for which the Inter-Contact system is ideally
Efforts will also be made to develop methods for displaying information
on the network more simply and effectively to increase its value for non-technical
policymakers and as an educational tool 
The system may be developed in another sense whose potential significance
it is difficult to estimate. Inter-Contact is being created at a time when
data banks exist in the U.S.A. with information on over 500 million people,
when many governments are developing their own data systems, when the U.N.
is attempting to create a bank, of over one million addresses of individuals,
and when the network of World Trade Centers around the world will hold
and manipulate commercially valuable data in powerful computer systems
(possibly linked by satellite). This increase in concentration of information
under the control of government and business bodies, however benign, is
recognized as a dangerous threat to privacy and to traditional methods
of democratic control against abuse . The danger is increased because
it is now recognized that the rapidity with which world problems are developing
will shortly lead to a situation in which society "may be tempted to sacrifice
(or may not be able to afford) democratic political processes"  - a
situation predicted in George Orwell's "1984 ".
The Inter-Contact system - or the technique - offers a means for nongovern
mental, nonprofit groups of all shapes, sizes and persuasions to enhance
their effectiveness by making use of a powerful computer system. The development
foreseen is the creation of a flexible, sophisticated method of : sharing
data between bodies using the system, preserving security and the privacy
of each where required, compensating each body when others use specified
parts of the data it has collected, cooperative financing methods, and
permitting some organisations (such as foundations) to subsidize the use
of the system by specified nonprofit bodies whose activities they wish
to facilitate. (This approach is of great potential importance as a means
of by-passing the traditional procedural, personality and political problems
of coordination at administrative levels, by achieving a degree of "self-coordination"
as a result of partial integration at the information processing level.
The range and flexibility of the technical possibilities are more than
sufficient to meet the range of criteria for autonomy.)
It is expected that this unique development would also help to increase
the effectiveness with which such bodies fulfil their function in democratic
society of rapidly counter-balancing, or protesting against, the actions
or omissions of other bodies (whether government agencies, associations,
businesses, etc.), which according to their value systems, they
consider to be dangerous or irresponsible. Many of these bodies can now
introduce greater instability into the world system because of their current
information processing superiority, and thus are in great need of more
rapid and effective reactions from bodies in a position to detect excesses.
It is important that such a nonpolitical, noncommercial system should be
created to avoid a situation in which the effectiveness of associations
is jeopardized by the criteria or cost barriers imposed on access to governmental
and business information systems. An Inter-Contact type system also has
many implications for the problem of participation and for more effective
formulation of the guiding values of society.
The important questions governing the realization of these cooperative
possibilities are the degree to which potential users:
(a) reject the computer as a tool and a key to a better future because
of its association in their minds with the use made of it by some organizations;
(b) diminish their combined effectiveness by working independently
through incompatible computer systems and competing for the limited available
resources (the crippling error made by nearly every intergovemmental organization,
even within the United Nations system);
(c) recognize the need to prepare actively for, and to seek out and
demand collectively, the information processing techniques of the near
future from which they can derive the greatest benefit;
(d) recognize the trend towards a situation in which their survival
and effectiveness depends in a new way on how they increase or decrease
the availability of information which they control (a situation in which
it is the isolationist bodies which will wither).
a) Production of reference books: The Inter-Contact system will be used
during 1970 to produce the 13th edition of the Yearbook
of International Organizations via a computer typesetting process.
This means that the computer orders the data line by line, page by page on magnetic
tape, incorporating corrections and additions and making 8 or more indexes,
some in several languages. This leads to the production of a film from which
the directory can be printed. The same data can be ordered in a different way
to produce directories of organizations fulfilling any combination of criteria.
For example a French edition of the Yearbook is planned , also several other
related UIA publications on : meetings , periodicals , meeting report
, National directories could also be prepared under contract.
b) Research: Requests for information on bodies fulfilling certain
criteria will be answered from the same data (e.g. lists of organizations
: with headquarters or members in Belgium, interested in a given subject,
which have not held meetings in Tunisia, etc.). More complex structural
studies will be undertaken in collaboration with university groups.
c) Mailings: The system will be used for various kinds of mailing
: questionnaires to obtain new information (e.g. for the production of
new Yearbooks) and for special surveys; distribution of the monthly Journal
and those of other organizations on request; distribution of meeting
invitations; etc. One important aspect of this will be the ability to supply
organizations who have become interested in a new field of activity with
the addresses of all the bodies with whom they should be in contact.
Science and technology have reached the stage at which "for the first
time in man's history, we are at the point where we can do virtually anything
we wish if we are willing to pay the price" . This applies not only
to the production of new things but also - and this is rarely mentioned
- to the development of techniques to provide an integrated overall view
of the social processes in which man is engaged. Hence the importance of
futures research, it helps society to decide what it wants in the future
as a guide to the allocation of resources now.
In the first section below some developments of the Inter-Contact system
are described which are currently feasible technically. In the second section,
the developments described indicate possibilities which are likely to be
available within the next thirty years and to the realization of which
the development of the UIA system would contribute.
a) The Immediate Future
Organization Charts. Surprisingly enough many, if not most, large
organizations like national government administrations or the United Nations
family of organizations are unable to produce a detailed organization chart
covering all their constituent bodies and organs.
A European government, for example, after having built up a complete
list of the 300 international bodies concerned with development, was forced
to renounce its intention of formulating a global policy for 1970-1980
because it was not possible to determine within its administration which
departments were responsible for liaison with each such body. Attention
has since been restricted to thirty of them, namely ten per cent.
Using the Inter Contact system, it would be possible to hold information
on. such internal bodies and print out organization charts, plus indexes,
and even arrange to match the organization charts of two national governments
to pick out the "opposite numbers" in each hierarchy. Altematively, it
would be possible to pick out the lines of responsibility for decisions
on a particular subject through such a hierarchy.
Graphics. It is also possible to display organization chart information
on television-type tubes linked to computers - a display procedure now
used on a large scale for airline bookings at London Airport. The really
important breakthrough may however lie in the possibility of actually displaying
parts of a network of organizations as a network in two, three or
four dimensions so that it can be inspected as a pictorial representation
of interorganizational relationships. Information may be added to or extracted
from the display by using a light-pen to interact with the computer. Such
displays are currently used for the design of electronic circuits, engineering
structures (airplanes, automobiles, etc.) and the analysis of three-dimensional
models of complex chemical molecules (see above). The latter can for example
be rotated, reduced or magnified on the display screen. The fundamental
importance of interactive graphics  is the ability to facilitate understanding.
Progress in understanding is made through the development of mental models
or notations that permit a simple representation of a mass of complexities
not previously understood. The greater the complexity however, the more
difficult it is to use mental models, and hence the greater the risk of
dangerous conceptual shortcuts and oversimplifications. For example, in
a description of his own mental models of the operation of electrical circuits
one author writes :
"Unfortunately, my abstract model tends to fade out when I get a
circuit that is a little bit too complex. I can't remember what is happening
in one place long enough to see what is going to happen somewhere else.
My model evaporates. If 1 could somehow represent that abstract model
in the computer to see a circuit in animation, my abstraction wouldn't
evaporate. I could take the vague notion that "fades out at the edges",
and solidify it. 1 could analyze bigger circuits. In all fields there are
such abstractions. We haven't yet made in any use of the computer's capability
to "firm up" these abstractions. The scientist of today is limited by his
pencil and paper and mind.... We could let him represent all kinds of very
complex and abstract notions, and we could let him work with them in a
way that lie has never been able to do before. 1 think that the the really
big gains in the substantive scientific areas going to come when somebody
invents new abstractions which can only be represented in computer graphical
It is this sort of facility which the political, social, information and
management scientists and educationalists require in their studies of the
world system and its subsystems. It appears highly probable that only abstractions
of the above order will prove an adequate basis for an understanding and
representation of the world system for purposes of sophisticated planning
and decision making. The use of this tool opens up the way to render the
world system transparent - its importance for obtaining a rapid understanding
of complex intra-governemental structures, or of the relationships between
enterprises in a given industrial sector is clear.
Such research will help identify structural weaknesses to the point
where instead of creating new organizations, coordinating groups, information
systems, bibliographies, journals, etc. the available funds will be used
with great precision to improve the effectiveness of existing structures
where possible - thus avoiding the vicious circle of duplication, overlap
and ineffectiveness. Not only will the logic of such a decision be apparent
in research terms, but the power of the visual display will validate the
research view in the terms of the non technical politician, planner or
interested citizen, due to the ease with which complexities can be simplified
or examined from many angles (see below).
Education: A visual display unit linked to a computer has considerable
advantages as a technique for the communication of new concepts. As the
world system increases in complexity new techniques must be sought to simplify
education concerning it and the many roles and interactions open to the
individual, the citizen and his organizations. The problems posed by the
time currently required to communicate an adequate working knowledge of
the world system and the difficulty of building up an integrated picture
of its complexity, suggest that a visual display unit with computer mass
memory support may have many possibilities.
An important possibility in building understanding is the ability to
manipulate part of a multidimensional network via the visual display unit
so as to portray the world system network from an origin chosen anywhere
within the network. Thus an organization (or even a concept), known and
understood by a particular user, may be used as visual origin and all other
organizations (or concepts) displayed in terms of their relationship to
it - according to a variety of models helpful to differing personality
types. Entities "distant" in communication terms can be reduced in visual
importance, whereas "nearby" organizations of relatively little absolute
importance can be made of greater significance (approximating the recognition
normally accorded them by the user).
The student can work from his base system by requesting a restructuring
of the display in terms of
other system viewpoints as he builds up knowledge of, and a "feel"
for, those originally conceptually distant from his starting point In this
way he can progress toward the more general levels of the world system
or into other areas of detail. Of greatest importance, the student can
work out and locate which organizations or systems offer the best avenue
of fulfillment for him, or alternatively precisely in what way he must
initiate some new activity to achieve such a measure of satisfaction or
correct some trend which his values rate as unsatisfactory. Exploration
of the organizational network can be recorded on videotape for educational
purposes, briefings or newsreels.
b) More distant future
The purpose of this section is to envision briefly the sort of communication
facilities and environment that seem desirable, or perhaps essential, for
the last decade of this century in terms of the problems and technological
opportunities - as a development of the contribution of the type of data
structure being built by the UIA .
The greater the number of relevant factors which must be taken into
account in a decision making situation the more complex becomes the structure
necessary to display information revealing the problem. The use of interactive
graphics, described above, will therefore be extended to give a working
environment which may be described from the point of view of the executive
(or member) as follows. He will conceive of his organization as the interrelating
or coordinating point of a set of networks of relationships between individuals
and other bodies concerned with a web of problem areas. This concept will
be given precise form by an appropriate display on a three-dimensional
projection screen linked to a computer. He will be able to examine the
current state of development of these networks. Each event and the passage
of time will modify the pattern of links between organizations. The display
will signal as he watches new links formed and broken and areas of inter
organizational conflict. New integrating points of various degrees of effectiveness
and duration will appear and require decisions and reactions from his organization.
His decisions to allocate resources in new ways will modify the patterns
of links on his own display and on those of others concerned with the same
field. A related display will highlight for him the current problem areas
and the rates of their development. He will be able to determine which
organizations and associated project networks are concerned with which
problem area, their effectiveness and need for resources. The computer
will highlight problem areas of interest to him with which no organisation
is concerned and indicate bodies from which he might obtain funds, or which
might be willing to collaborate or sponsor action on the part of
his organization .
Because of developments in communication, or ganizations - which are
structures for processing
information - will decreasingly take the forms which are currently
recognized. No office will be necessary because the files, accounts and
documents are stored and used electronically. No meeting room will be necessary
because of the inconvenience and delays of travel and the convenience of
videophone conference calls . The purely administrative organization
becomes a concept concretized in a computer program and file structure.
This will have the advantage of reducing the ability or need to identify
with the non-essential features of organizations which are often a major
source of resistance to change. Even the concept of an organization as
a permanent structure will be modified. The facility with which structures
can be altered or created will increase the rate of modification of such
structures to the point where new links are brought into play to cope with
each new problem.
This takes us to a point where the concept of an organization as a distinct
and well defined structure (other than in computer terms) is replaced by
an emphasis on the potential components of structure at any one time in
terms of a given problem pattern and the stimulus necessary to encourage
their participation. The emphasis on organization dynamics is foreign to
traditional thinking in formal organizations but is very close-to the normal
intuitive understanding of the operation of small groups, informal organizations
and pressure goups.
A more vivid appreciation of the flexibility which this will make possible
is obtained by considering the organization (in sociological terms) which
can be set up now by concerned people telephoning between one another to
arrange joint action or protest over some new issue. In the future this
procedure will be accompanied, over the same short period, by the formulation
of (and bargaining over) the necessary computer-held structure, selection
of contact mailing lists, acquisition of funds (by credit transfers) etc.
A formal body will therefore have been set up which could act to apply
pressure or be wound up at the same speed.
The current range of organizations is severely limited because of the
need for simple voting and
control procedures and easily identifiable membership groups. The calculating
and display power of the computer will permit and render understandable
complex groupings of many types - making possible the existence of bodies
which only "cohere" and "exist" on particular issues, change their structure
and method of operation in a pre-negotiated way over time  or which
might have a wide voting membership on one issue but a very limited one
These new types of organization will pose considerable problems if they
seek legal status - until legislation recognizes the fact that the computer
program is an operationalized constitution and in fact offers a considerably
more precise definition than that currently possible.
Perhaps the most important possibilities lie in the improvement of 'the
relationship between the man-in-the-street and the specialists detecting
new ways of understanding, changing and controlling society. The situation
predicted for the world of 1976 in which
"... the politician, working in tandem with his technological advisers
and program designers, is in a position to put forth interpretations of
"urban reality", programs to deal with it, and evaluations of those programs
as implemented based on knowledge either unavailable to those who might
challenge him or unavailable at the time that a challenge might be most
will be overcome. The type of display envisaged could be adapted to receive
both the most subtle insights of diplomats and even of artists , as
well as those of mathematically oriented researchers. These could in turn
be converted by the computer either directly, or via appropriate educational
programmes, into explanations framed according to the demands of the man-in-the
street. The immensely improved possibilities for participation are implicit
in the flexibility and ease with which organizations can deformed and controlled
- or even protested against. It is only the extension of national data
systems to facilitate democratic action through
such systems that
will prevent such systems from being swept away by processes of change
or abused for oppressive purposes. The key lies in using the same system
for different purposes and thus avoiding the spastic response of a society
based upon a fragmented nonparticipative information system.
In this context the conclusion may be reached that the only sufficiently
complex and yet understandable dynamic model for the large variety of processes
about which the policy-maker will have to be prepared to learn, receive
and integrate related information - whilst at the same time retaining,
a concept of the ongoing process as a whole - is the policy-maker as a
fully developed human being. This would provide considerable philosophic
satisfaction to many as well as providing a conceptual framework within
which the balance between man and his organized environment could be reestablished.
The problem would then become how to educate individuals as generalists
to model within themselves the interacting sub-systems of world society,
with the necessary increase in precision and breadth of vision, and how
to enable them to reflect these subtle insights back onto a visual display
screen for objective discussion, testing and further refinement.
The fact that there is no centre, university faculty or institute in
existence or proposed which specializes in the study of the world system
as a whole, or of the web of interacting problems as a whole,
increases the significance of the activities and plans of the UIA It
also has a possible consequence which seems to have been ignored.
The lack of such central collections of information means that nobody
is stimulated to think about either (or the ways of using such information)
in broad enough terms to cope with the synergistic effects which may be
the eventual cause of disaster. And, while "...the difficulties and dangers
of problems increase at a geometric rate, the knowledge and manpower qualified
to deal with these problems tend to increase at an arithmetic rate" .
The fragmented approach to society may even reinforce, and in turn be reinforced
by, a degree of conceptual fragmentation within man which opposes any sense
of human fulfillment  and - to the extent that the key to peace lies
in the minds of man  - blocks any approach to satisfactory world peace
or to the solution of other world problems.
"Because our strength is derived from the fragmented mode of our knowledge
and our action, we are relatively helpless when we try to deal intelligently
with such unities as a city, an estuary's ecology, or "the quality of life"."
 or with the world system as a whole. Development of more sensitive
methods to interrelate fields of knowledge and activity  leads to more
effective relationships between organizations and problem areas.
The elaboration of the network - an unexplored resource in terms of
its synergistic effects - within
which all organizations are embedded in terms of their actual pattern
of contacts would decrease the tendency to treat organizations as isolated
entitles (which emphasizes conflict rather than cooperation) or conversely
to treat problems as isolated and amenable to solution by isolated organizations.
The techniques available to structure this information in visual form?
adaptable to educational requirements, opens up exciting possibilities
for improvement in understanding about society.
The network would provide one realistic physical model of what has hitherto
been all abstract and relatively mean ingless concept, namely "world society".
The existence of such a model could have important educational and social
The strength of the UIA derives from a simple idea reinforced over 60
years - the overriding necessity for a "vue d'ensemble" across all the
conventional categories. The rate at which the Inter-Contact system can
be developed to concretize the organizational network depends directly
(a) the ability of bodies interested in particular subject or geographical
areas to understand the advantages of making available funds to include
such specialized information within an Inter-Contact general framework
(b) the enthusiasm aroused in potential users and in groups anxious
to collect systematically and prepare information on bodies active on questions
which they consider to be important.
Its ultimate significance will depend on the degree to which the Inter-Contact
concept echoes the perspectives and needs of young people, stimulates their
imagination and provides them with an instrument of the 1970's to help
make society transparent to the man-in-the-street, and a fulfilling environment
1. Peter Drucker. The Age of Discontinuity; guidelines to our changing
society. New York. Harper and Row, 1968, p. 350.
2. Union des Associations Internationales. Annuaire de la Vie Internationale. Publie avec le concours
de I'Institut International de Bibliographie et l'Institut International
de la Paix. par H. Fried, H. La Fontaine et P. Otlet. 1908-1909. 1.370
p.. 1er edition (publ. no. 3).
Union des Associations Internationales.Annuaire de la Vie Internationale. Publie avec le concours de
la Fondation Carnegie pour la Paix Internationale et de I'Institut International
de la Paix. 19 10- 1911, 2,652 p., 2e edition (publ. no. 47).
3. Union des Associations Internationales. Annuaire des organisations internationales. 1950, 902 p.. 3e edition
(publ. 146). Yearbook of International Organizations. 1968-1969, 1220 p.,
12e edition (publ. no. 210).
4. No information exists on the total number of organizations. From
1950 to 1968 the number of international bodies increased from 718 to 3,195
(United Nations bodies 28, other intergovernmental bodies 201, international
nonprofit bodies 2577: together with 2819 multinational business enterprises
). This represents a 4.5 % increase per year in governmental bodies
giving 855 in the year 2000, and a 5.0 % increase per year in nongovernmental
nonprofit bodies giving 9,600 in the year 2000.
5. As an example, the U.S.A. Federal Government has 13 Congressional
Comittees. 90 programs, 26 quasigovernmental bodies and 14 inter-agency
committees dealing with environmental questions. At the international level,
no information exists on the number of bodies within the United Nations
6. Consider the overlap in the responsibilities between ministries within
a government or between the specialized agencies within the United Nations
stucture See .
7. For example: Inter-governmental Task Force on Information Systems.
8. The existence of a journal with a network of' stubscribers may avoid
the need for an organization with members. Eurochemic is an intergovernmental
9. H J. Laski. Grammar of Politics. New Haven, Yale University Press.
1925. On the "permeability" of the nation-state to outside influences.
see A.M. Scott, The Functioning of the International Political System.
10. A survey of 14 journals and 10 international relations readers in
the period 1960-1969 by Chadwick F. Alger. Research on i- research : a
decade of quantitative and field research on international organizations.
Paper presented to American Political Science Association annual meeting,
September 1969. (Numbers of organizations taken from reference in note
11. Bertram M. Gross. Organizations and Their Managing. New York. Free
Press. 1968, p. 636.
12. V. Ferkiss. Technological Man; the myth and the reality.
London. Heinemann, 1969, p. XII. ( "....technology has made human society into a seamless web, with
mutual interrelationships that can be disentangled only at peril of losing
touch with reality.")
13. W. Buckley. 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. p. 7. ( " The greater part of current discussion of systems in sociology
is embarrassingly naive and out of date in the light of modern systems
research in other disciplines... ")
14. Colin Cherry. On Human Communication. Wiley,
1957. (First suggested the concept of a communicating network of organizations)
J. C. Mitchell (Ed.). Social Networks in Urban Situations.
Manchester University Press. 1969.
15. Bertram M. Gross. Discussing the United Nations reports on the World Social
Situation. In: R.A. Bauer (Ed.) Social Indicators. M.l.T.,
1966, pp. 194-9, 269-270.
16. Current recognition of the importance and ramifications of environmental
problems warrants a reconception of the Decade as the "U.N. Environmental
Development Decade". This conveys more clearly the notion that it is
not development at my price that is required but change controlled in terms
of the consequences of change - precisely the notion which is lacking in
the development concept. This relates the development problems of the Third
World to the over-development problems of the industrialized society -
the creation of which is the goal of development.
17. Russell L. Ackoff. Systems. organizations, and interdisciplinary research.
General Systems Yearbook (Society for General Systems Research), 5,
1960, pp. 1-8.
18. K. G. Harr, Jr. quoted in Business Review, March-April 1967,
19. E. N. Bacon. Urban Process. Daedalus, Fall 1968, p. 1167.
20. This is tantamount to isolating information in a higher state of
order due to the increase in the number of ways it can be used. -- a greater
than usual reduction in entropy.
21. Robert Jackson. The Capacity Study of the United Nations Development
System. Geneva. 1969, 2 vols.
22. Anthony Judge. International
Organizations and the Generation of the Will to Change: the Information
Systems Required. Brussels, UIA, 1970 (INF/5).
23. Union of International Associations. International Associations. 1949-, monthly.
24. Union of International Associations. International Congress Calendar. (of future international
meetings, annual with supplements in ref. 23)
25. Union of International Associations. Directory of Periodicals Published by International Organizations.
Brussels. UIA, 1969, 3rd edition.
26. Union of International Associations. Yearbook of International Congress Proceedings 1960-1967.
Brussels, UIA, 1969, 640 p.
27. Research has already started on the use of television type
screen displays for organizational networks
28. Donald M. Michael. On Coping with Complexity: planning and politics.
Daedalus, Fall 1968. p. 1179-1185.
29. H. Kahn and J. Wiener. Faustian powers and human choices. In: W.R.
Ewald (Ed.) Environment and Change. Indiana University Press,
30. The last French edition was published in 1961. W.D. McElroy. National
Academy of Science, News Report, November 1969.
32. I. Sutherland. Computer graphics. Datamation, May 1966, pp. 22-27.
33. A system technically similar to this is already in operation for
the direct purchase and sale of shares between parties who remain anonymous
during the bargaining process (A computer to bypass the broker. Business
Week March 8, 1969, P. 96- 97).
34. Apart from the technological convenience of this change, society
has already reached the point where a three- dimensional array of offices
tends to be a direct hindrance to the multidimensional contact needs of
individuals with many functions to fulfil in a variety of committees and
35. This could lead to a breakthrough in the handling of' minority/majority
problems like those in Southern Africa.
36. This has many implications for more imaginative and harmonious solution
of interorganizational problems. The possibility is foreshadowed
by current developments:
"The computer which handles fantastic amounts of' data for processing
brings the artist close to the scientist. Both can now use the same disciplines
and knowledge in different ways. For the first time, the artist is in a
position to deal directly with the basic scientific concepts of the twentieth
century." (C. Csuri and J. Shaffer. Art, computers and mathematics. In
: Computer Art Society, Event One, London. 1969).
37. Yehezkel Dror. Prolegomenon to policy sciences : from muddling through
to meta-policymaking. Paper presented at a symposium of the American Association
for the Advancement of Science, December 1969.
38. N. W. Chamberlain. The life of the mind in the firm.
Daedalus, Winter 1969, pp. 134-146.
Anthony Judge. Organizational
apartheid; who needs whom in the Second United Nations Development Decade? International Associations 2 1, October 1969, pp. 451-466.[text] (discusses the possibility of "organizational
apartheid" as a future world issue)
39. Rene Maheu, Director-General, UNESCO.
40. Editorial. Fortune, February 1970, p. 92.
41. Jere Clark and Anthony Judge. Development of trans-disciplinary conceptual
aids. Brussels, UIA, 1970, project proposal. [text]
42. Anthony Judge. Communication and international organizations.
International Associations, 22, February 1970, pp. 67-79. [text]
43. Introduction to a 1968 session of the College of Management Control
Systems (The Institute of Management Sciences).
44. Anthony Judge. The
improvement of communication within the world system. Brussels, U.A.l.,
1969 (INF/2). [text]