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The proposed project would collect from the literature minimum adequate descriptive data and source references on, possibly, 1,500 - 5,000 "world problems" and their interrelationships.
The purpose of the project is to counteract the tendency to design programs to handle isolated problems or sets of problems, due to a simplistic conception of the extent to which problems are interrelated. In particular, the project would hope to highlight the many cross-links from the sub-sets of "natural environment" and "development" problems to psycho-social problems, which currently prevent real progress towards the solution of the more visible problems.
It is the largely ignored, behavioural and systemic problems which divert, cushion or even counteract the Impact of organized attacks on those of apparently more dramatic concern. A comprehensive mapping of the problem network would help bodies to focus and coordinate their resources more effectively - particularly with a view to locating and concentrating on those key problems requiring relatively few resources, but whose solution results directly in the elimination of many other dependent, and possibly more visible, problems.
Preliminary investigations show that, surprisingly enough, there in no systematic descriptive listing of "world problems" nor any systematic attempt to show their interrelationship or how they are nested within one another - even in the case of the subset constituted by human environment problems. This impedes progress towards formulation of widely acceptable strategies capable of attracting adequate resources to attack complex networks of problems. It also confuses research priorities and obscures critical leverage points in the network at which research and action may be most beneficial with a minimum of resources.
There is a tendency for information systems, organizations and programs to get "locked into" recognition of one particular pattern or mode of problems only, and to "over-identify" with them. (Donald Schon. Beyond the Stable State: public and private learning in a changing society. London, Temple Smith, 1971) This results in a multiplicity of candidates for "the key problem" requiring maximum allocation of resources, of which each appeals to constituencies having often little basis or desire for inter-communication. Examples are: refugees, economic development, environment, peace, youth, urban renewal, drug addiction, etc. It is dangerous to define problems in isolation from one another (Harold Lasswell. From fragmentation to configuration. Policy Sciences, 2, 1971, pp. 439-446.).
Each constituency attempts to create the general impression that its program is covering all the relevant issues. Thus it is only in the footnotes to reports that one finds, for example, that the U.N. Conference on Human Environment (Stockholm 1972) will not concern itself with the population problem (which is a major contributor to destruction of the environment) because it is "too sensitive", nor with psycho-social features of the human environment because they are "too subjective". The same phenomenon repeats itself with respect to other Issue areas.
The sub- and associated problems in each such case may, of course, be found described to the relevant literature, but no effort has ever been made to bring them all together in any systematic manner and to record their interrelationships. Perhaps the most sophisticated attempt at interrelating world problems is that of The Club of Rome sponsored study at M.I.T. under Jay Forrester and Dennis Meadows (Jay Forrester. World Dynamics. Cambridge, Wright-Alien, 1971.) - but even this was forced to focus on a very small sub-set of the recognized universe of problems, partly because the universe is not systematically documented. Of particular importance are the non-obvious problems, and those which are obvious in one culture or frame of reference but are not in another - or those which constitute the negative consequences of positive programs.
The proposed project would collect from the literature minimum adequate descriptive data and source references on, possibly, 1,500 - 5,000 world problems and their interrelationships.
The data collected in the project would later be used in four ways
This project originated as a result of investigations into the collection and handling of data on International organizations and on concept thesauri (see Annex A). In dealing with systems of organizations and concepts, there is a considerable problem of data collection - particularly when it Is desired to show interrelationships. In the case of organizations, most interesting information is confidential and organizations do not want to be directly exposed to the suggestion that they should or should not be linked in particular ways. In the case of concepts, each discipline tends to favour a different pattern of concepts, so that it is liable to be difficult to make rapid progress in concept classification or in suggesting new patterns of linkages - particularly of the needed inter-displinary kind.
The system of organizations Is strongly influenced by the system of concepts - integrative progress in one catalyzes integration in the other. These systems are however also influenced in a similar way by the system of problems ( See argument In: Anthony Judge, Computer-aided visualization of psycho-social structures; peace as an evolving balance of conceptual or organizational relationships. (Paper presented to an AAAS Symposium on Value and Knowledge Requirements for Peace, Philadelphia, December 1971).
In this light, it should be possible to obtain a more effective integration of the organizations and conceptual systems by showing in one context the linkages within the network of problems with some parts of which each organization and discipline is in some way concerned. The advantage is that the collection of data on problems and their interrelationships is much less sensitive and threatening. For this reason, it is also viable
The data collection strategy is envisaged as follows:
1.1. Scan through a limited number of journals which attempt to give an overview of progress and problems in many disciplines and to omment on current issues (e.g. Science, New Scientist/ Economist, etc.). 1.2. Reference books on standard groups of problems (e.g. environment, urban renewal, etc.) will also be consulted. 1.3. Official reports of the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies will be consulted as they are one logical point at which the existence of many unnoticed problems should be registered and documented. 1.4. Some bibliographies, accessions lists and union catalogues can also be used effectively in a preliminary search.
The approach above should permit files of cuttings to be established for a wide range of problems together with references to authoritative sources. A subject index would be maintained.
2.1. it is expected that Phase 1 will already generate sufficient data to describe a proportion of the problems adequately. 2.2. More specialized literature sources located in Phase 1 will be followed up to extract details on problems. Official reports of some governments will be consulted since many of these are problem oriented. 2.3. Some specialized libraries, information centers and organizations will be visited or questioned by mall.
3.1. Completion of most problem entries. 3.2. Difficult entries would be compiled and sent to specialists for comment and amendments.
A set of indexes would be compiled.
The data would now be in a form to permit computer coding or use as manuscript for a preliminary edition of the Yearbook of World Problems.
Phase 4 (external to this proposal)
4.1 Each problem entry would be sent to the most appropriate specialist(s) for verification and amendment. It is expected that the 4000 international organizations will be extremely useful at this stage. 4.2 Extra categories of Information on problems will be added whenever opportunity permits.
A more ambitious strategy would commission or attempt to obtain the collaboration of experts to prepare reviews of each world problem touching their domains. This is considered impracticable in terms of cost and time - and possibly undesirable in that it would be difficult to prevent each expert from stressing the perspective of his own particular school of thought. It would be preferable to approach experts of different schools of thought with a finished text for critical comment. In fact,it is at this stage, once the preliminary edition is in existence, that a multidisciplinary editorial committee can be set up to oversee the problems of criteria and quality of entry.
The style of work outlined is regularly used at the Union of International Associations to prepare manuscripts for reference books on international organizations (including organization descriptions, bibliographies, and other directories). A major advantage of this particular setting is its reputation for commitment to documentation without overemphasis on a particular national, political, disciplinary, or program perspective.
Despite frequent use of the word "problem", there seems to be a certain confusion as to what is meant. Bertil Nordbeck notes in an investigation of uses of the term that it is used conventionally in somewhat different senses from person to person and from situation to situation - and that this also seems to be true of the formal definitions of the concept Bertil Nordbeck. . From the elements of 16 extant definitions, he concludes that
"A problem or a problem situation exists when one experiences a need or a demand to achieve - through some kind of activity or search - from a certain existing situation to another imagined situation, a goal situation, which cannot be attained either immediately or by any automatic, habitual activity." ( Problem: What is a problem? International Associations,1971, 7, 405-408.)
It is possible to argue from this that it is goals that should be registered (Cf. Gerald Feinberg. The Prometheus Project; mankind's for long-range goals. Doubleday, 1969.) and not problems. But by definition, goals are much more difficult to define. They are often not explicit - in fact their presence can often only be deduced from the problems which emerge and are noted as people succeed in giving precision to the goal and the difficulties of achieving it are recognized.
Those seeking common values and goals assume too much in accepting the promise of general agreement on the flaws in the human condition. Most of the flaws are unknown to the majority and many, even when known, are not perceived as flaws - people adapt to them. Even those which are known to the majority do not necessarily give rise to an effective political will to change. Peoples' values compete and the corresponding problems compete for resource. "One man's meat is another man's poison."
From a practical point of view,it is the problems on which data is available. The presence of goals is less easily handled. Furthermore, a well-defined problem may in fact be a common obstruction to achievement of many different goals representing the Ill-defined objectives of a variety of groups in society. Again the problem is less ambiguous to handle.
One preliminary breakdown of problems gives the following types:
In attempting to isolate "world problems", the main emphasis would be placed on problem types through 6 in the list above. Problems of type 7 through 12 would only be mentioned In special cases of very general significance and then only very briefly.
The cut-off point is established at type 7 because the nature of the orientation toward the social system changes significantly from that point on. "in -house research problems are different from social systemic problems. This is perhaps best illustrated by the following extract from T.S. Kuhn (*)
"Bringing the normal research problem to a conclusion is achieving the anticipated in a new way, and It requires the solution of all sorts of complex instrumental, conceptual, and mathematical puzzles.... It is no criterion of goodness in a puzzle that its outcome be interesting or important. On the contrary, the really pressing problems, e.g. a cure for cancer or the design of a lasting peace, are often not puzzles at all, largely because they may not have any solution....one of the things a scientific community acquires with a paradigm is a criteria for choosing problems that, while the paradigm is taken for granted, can be assumed to have solutions. To a great extent_these_ are the only problems that the community will admit as scientific or encourage its members to undertake. Other problems,including many that had previously been standard, are rejected as metaphysical, as the concern of another discipline, or sometimes as just too problematic to be worth the time. A paradigm can, for that matter, even insulate the community from those socially important problems that are not reducible to the puzzle form, because they cannot be stated in terms of the conceptual and Instrumental look the paradigm supplies....One of the reasons why normal science seems to progress so rapidly is that Its practitioners concentrate on problems that only their own lack of Ingenuity should keep them from solving." (T.S. Kuhn. The Structure of Scientific Revolution, Chicago University Press, 1962, pp. 36-37; emphasis added)
Gunnar Boalt has in fact distinguished different kinds of research using the following degrees of relationship between problems and theory (The Sociology of Research. Southern Illinois University Press, 1969.):
The "world problems" on which a focus is needed come under the first two kinds.
One useful classification of world problems and crises by estimated time and intensity has been produced by John R. Platt ( John R. Platt. What we must do. Science, 166, 28 November 1969 p. 1115-1121.). This is only intended to show the most visible problems and does not show their interrelationships. It does not, for example, bring out the web of sub-problems which contribute to the visible problems.
Clearly, there are other dimensions along which world problems can be distinguished. Two other dimensions of Interest are examined in Annex B.
In order to build up as comprehensive a data base as possible, the criteria for problem selection would be kept to a minimum. The emphasis would not be on the determination of whether adequate proof existed demonstrating that a problem was a valid and significant one according to some absolute standard. The effort would be to include those "problems" which well-established constituencies indicated as significant in terms of their own frame of reference - even when the validity and existence of the problem is challenged by the perspective from some other frame of reference. In effect, all problems are sought which pose a threat to the continued well-being of some international group (as defined by that group or its self-elected supporters). The object is to register all the problems perceived as real whether or not - as Stafford Beer notes (Managing modern complexity. In: The Management of Information and Knowledge.. Committee on Science and Astronautics, U.S. House of Representatives, 1970, pp. 41-62) - most of the problems with which society believes it is faced, are bogus problems generated by theories about social progress and the way society works. The existence of information questioning the validity of a perceived problem is to be treated as information about that problem. Each perceived problem is envisaged as having a certain probability of existence for some group in society and is therefore treated like a proposition carrying annotations commenting on its validity - but it is included.
Even with the limitation mentioned in the previous section, great care must be taken to avoid being swamped by
A first attempt at a more elaborate set of criteria is set out in Annex C. Needless to say, it is only hands-on experience in collecting references to problems which will determine whether these criteria are adequate or whether they need to be made more stringent.
The assumption would be made that most problems of interest would have been noted in the literature. When an author states that "the fundamental problem is X", X would be treated as potential candidate, provided it conformed to the criteria set out above.
Of major interest to this project are the interstitial, behavioural, elusive or "creepy" problems which are less visible than the standard social and environmental problems, but nevertheless directly hinder action towards the solution of the latter.
An empirically determined set of world system-wide problems has already been proposed by Hasan Ozbekhan (Toward a general theory of planning. In: Erich Jantsch (Ed.). Perspectives of Planning. Paris, OECD, 1969, pp. 45-155.). He is the only author located who focuses on a comprehensive range of problems as problems and not in terms of the priorities of a particular mission-oriented agency. He arrives at a list of 24 problems (which he considers incomplete). Elsewhere (in internal reports of the Club of Rome which appears to be evolving a program remarkable for its lack of problem, discipline or institutional bias) he extends this to some 50 problems. His criteria are that they should each be, firstly, world system-wide in nature or better that they should represent cases in the pathology of current reality when the latter is viewed as a system. Secondly, he requires that they be both "continuous" and "critical", meaning that none of them can be truly solved independently of the rest of the entire set.
The question is whether this list represents adequate coverage in terms of a comprehensive world problem repertory. The problems in his list are mainly types 1 through 3 with only a few psycho-social problems as understood here. Aside from this, the thrust here is to get at problems at a lower level of detail at which the "continuity" may be less evident. This is considered essential in order to Isolate the specific problems to which organizations and programs are specifically addressed or which they encounter in tackling the more general problems in Ozbekhan's list. Needless to say it is not the purpose of this project to repeat the work of the many people producing "doomsday books". All of these focus at an even higher level of aggregation than Ozbekhan and tend to end up with something like one chapter per world problem in a ten chapter book which focuses on a particular group of world problems, creating the impression that those groups non-included are less critical.
Preliminary investigation has already shown that it is quite easy to build up to two hundred problems without taking into account the many aspects of conventional world problems such as environmental pollution. For this reason a first "guesstimate" of the total number of problems which would be isolated by this approach is something in the range of 1,500 to 5,000.
A selection of examples is given in Annex D.
It is clearly not feasible to provide a detailed review of each problem when whole books have been written on some of them. The intention is to supply a succinct statement defining the problem, its history, development, significance (plus denials of its significance), solutions, etc. Short statistical summaries of the problem would be presented in tabular form whenever available. The headings under which this information would appear in a complete entry are given in Annex E.
it might be useful to treat each heading as in the Human Area Resource File. There each possible heading has a code number which facilitates filing and computer coding.
There is a strong case for remaining flexible in the manner of handling the data on Individual problems. In particular,it may be convenient to group whole series of detail problems into one entry as in the case of Individual diseases, and handle the class only. (Diseases, for example, would only be handled Individually when they were considered to be uncontrollable, particularly when likely to give rise to epidemics.) It may also be useful to work with both adequately documented complete entries, and Inadequately documented (candidate) short entries. If Information could not be obtained under a particular heading, it would not be Included. Each entry might therefore include from 3 (a minimum) to many headings.
It Is now a matter of convention to refer to the complex interrelationships between problems and the network of problems. The OECD Bellagio Declaration on Planning, for example, noted that
"Many of the serious conflicts facing mankind result from the interaction of social, economic, technological, political, and psychological forces and can no longer be solved by fractional approaches from individual disciplines... Scientific attack on these problems of complexity is a matter of the utmost urgency..." (op.cit., pp. 7-9.)
The whole point of the world dynamics study is that the Implications of different problems, together with programs to solve them, must be juxtaposed within a common framework to determine what the dynamic interactive effect will do to the system as a whole (Jay Forrester. World Dynamics. Cambridge, Wright-Alien Press, 1971).
"A major deficiency in objective/goal statements today continues to be the lack of identification of objectives relating to spillover and second-order effects. The emphasis on objective/goal statements still seems too restricted to the immediate, more obvious, intended purposes of the program. " (H.P. Hatry. Status of PPBS in local and state governments in the United States. Policy Sciences, 2, 1971, pp. 177-189.)
Despite this recognition, however, the general tendency is to treat the "network" concept as a metaphor and to avoid an empirical relational by-relationship collection of information concerning the manner in which individual problems are linked together into the larger complexes. It is this empirical approach which is advocated here. One difficulty in establishing hidden relationships is the probability of a general expectation that those variables in the environment which are related to each other should be those variables which are related to one's own behaviour. (W.R. Garner. Uncertainty and Structure as Psychological Concepts. Wiley, 1962, p. 340)
A major stumbling block is the confusion concerning types of relationship. No widely accepted relationship categories have been developed. It is not the intention of this project to set up a single rigid classification of permissable relationships between problems. Just as no effort was made to limit narrowly the types of problem that should be handled,it should not be necessary to make the futile attempt to resolve the intellectual problem of how many types of relationship are significant. That the attempt would be futile on the part of any one group is shown by Eric de Grolier's excellent chapters on the expression of relationships in various systems. (Eric de Grolier. A Study of General Categories applicable to Classification and Coding in Documentation. Paris, UNESCO, 1963.) He concludes in his UNESCO/FID supported review, that it proved impossible to produce a systematization that was "sufficiently satisfactory to warrant even preliminary publication."
Prior to any classification of relationships between problems however, the mere existence of a relationship needs to be noted. The ambitions of this project are at this stage merely to note the existence of relationships. These relationships will be represented by cross-references between the problem entries. For convenience, and without suggesting any form of definitive or theoretically founded classification, an attempt will be made to group these cross-references under five headings (see Annex E):
This approach is not expected to result at this stage in a consistent classification or neat hierarchies of problems. Relationships will be indicated when the literature on a particular problem Indicates the relationship. The only concession to consistency will be to ensure that if evidence exists for problem A being related to problem B, then the relationship B to A will also be registered, whether evidence for this is available in connection with problem B or not.
A computer system to handle many varieties of relationship required in terms of the perspectives of groups with different models has been described elsewhere in connection with models of relationship between concepts. (Anthony. Judge. Relationships between Elements of Knowledge. Social Science Research Institute, University of Hawaii, 1972, (150 p.), (Committee on Conceptual and Terminological Analysis, Working Paper No. 3).)
This protect constitutes the first of a series of steps which might be envisaged in a strategy to achieve more powerful control of the problem environment and greater coordination of response to it. The steps are outlined in Annex F. These more sophisticated possibilities are in some measure dependent upon the facility with which information may be flexibly handled and displayed for ease of comprehension. The future use of computer graphics techniques in the connection is discussed in Annex G. One use of the data generated by this project would be to test out and demonstrate the credibility of such techniques.
Travel (to USA - 4 weeks) $ 1,500 Travel (Europe) $ 600 Purchase of books, documents, journal back issues (o be cut up to avoid note-taking, extra typing or xeroxing and speed up creation of files on each problem.) $ 500 Photocopying $ 500 Secretary (9 man months) $ 3,600 Research Assistant (12 man months) S 4,800 Editor/Compiler (12 man months) $10,800 Postage, questionnaires, automatic letters $ 500
Administrative overheads (10%) $ 2.300
Total $ 25,000
Cost of publication would be met by the Union of International Associations.
This project is an attempt to break out of the setting constituted by responses to attempts at change which are governed by Stafford Beer's adaptation of LeChateller's Principle to social systems:
"Reformers, critics of Institutions, consultants, in innovation, people in short who 'want to get something done', often fall to see this point. They cannot understand why their strictures, advice or demands do result in effective change. They expect either to achieve a measure of success in their own terms or to be flung off the premises. But an ultrastable system (like a social institution)... has no need to react in either of these ways. It specializes in equilibrial readjustment, which Is to the observer a secret form of change requiring no actual alteration in the macro-systemic characteristics that he is trying to do something about. "( Stafford Beer. The cybernetic cytoblast - management itself. Chairman's Address to the International Cybernetics Congress, September 1969.)
Many well-meant attacks on world problems are met,if "successful", by social systemic responses which merely cause the pattern of criticality within the network of problems to be slightly modified - a problem is "solved" but new sets of problems are forced into criticality as second or third order side-effects.
In this environment, action against world problems must be based on a strategy against the network of problems - great and, apparently, small. A more outgoing and powerful means of pinpointing problems prior to criticality is needed. The attitude required in detecting emerging world social system problems is similar to that recommended for NASA in the following:
"The program of a large organization, whether intended or not.. .affects a wide sector of the organization's environment, one much wider than the organization may understand to be its surrounds... Organizations that wish to deal responsibly with their social surrounds must be capable of eliciting and evaluating responses from those who realize they are affected but who are ordinarily silent, and from those who are affected but may not realize it..." (R.A. Rosenthal and R.S. Weiss. Problems of organizational feedback processes. In: R.A. Bauer (Cd.). Social Indicatators MIT Press, 1966.)
This project is a step towards mapping and further objectifying the problem network, and facilitating the sort of "configurative" counter-offensive envisaged by Harold Lasswell (From fragmentation to configuration. Policy Sciences, 2, 1971, p. 439-446.). Hopefully this will reduce the necessity for decisions to be made at levels where the possibility of individual participation of those affected is increasingly remote. Democratization and peace depend on relatively equal access, by territorial and pluralistic groups, to knowledge about the problems faced. In a learning society faced with crises, the "look-out" function of these groups should also be remembered.
The ultimate concern of this project may perhaps best be summarized as that of improving the current societal attitude towards problems - whereby different groups, because of the limited information to which each is exposed, become heated advocates or opponents of particular problems as the key problem. The different enthusiasms, although sincere, create chaotic competition, and even conflict, for attention and resources.
Government, agency and media control of information aggravates this situation since it provides an increasingly potent basis for "adjusting" the outside world so that it is compatible with the survival and growth aims of the agency. The agency is at the same time internally adjusted so that it responds best to what it perceives as pertinent to it in the evolving complex environment. Those with any control over information are able to put forth interpretations of "social reality", the criticality of a given problem, programs to deal with it, and evaluations of those programs as implemented, based on knowledge either unavailable to those who could challenge the interpretation or unavailable at the time that a challenge might be most effective.(This paragraph based on: D.M. Michael. On Coping with Complexity: planning and politics. Daedalus, Fall 1968, pp. 1179-1185.)
However, as soon as a challenge is made sufficient and the problem proved publicly to be non-critical or dependent upon some other problem, the problem's value as a "territory", with respect to which the advocating bodies can distinguish themselves, Is lost. New "territories" are quickly sought in another part of the problem network to which resources can be "justifiably" allocated, and the cycle re-commences - to the confusion of on-lookers. There are always "fresh" problems onto which agencies can quickly move to escape the recognition of the part their narrow focus plays in maintaining this process.
Unless the problem network can be mapped so that the moves of each advocating group can be tracked in relation to one another, then no understanding of the adequacy or inadequacy of the attack by society's organizational resources on the whole problem complex will emerge. Perhaps the tableau that best summarizes the current situation is that of tribes of howler monkeys (organizations) in a forest of inter-weaving branches (the problem network) which they fragment into noisily and ardently defended family territories which shift unpredictably according to the changing fortunes and humours of each family. Current problem data projects focus on a few groups of "trees" according to the current fashion. A "forest-oriented" data collection is required.
[to be included ****]
The project emerged as a powerful means of attacking a vicious circle constituted by:
The idea for the project arose during the course of work on the design of a computer data bank to handle information on international organizations to supply a more integrated and action oriented overview of the world system. Each organization is concerned with a number of "subject" areas which in some cases take the form of specific "problem" areas. There is much overlap and cross-linking between problems which prevented any simplistic classification of organizations and demanded a network-oriented databank. A design for this was developed. (International Computers Limited. System Definition for for Type Setting Yearbook of International Organization. ICL Program Specifiation for Type SettingYearbook of International Organization. London, ICL, 1971, 2 vol., var. pag. .)
Further investigation with a view to data collection showed that the concept of a "world problem" was Ill-defined, despite its frequent use in documents and the media. No systematic list existed, only scattered collections of sub-problems considered to be grouped within major problem areas such as "environment", "youth", "peace", etc. The Union of International Associations' Executive Council therefore agreed in November 1970 to the proposal to produce a "Yearbookof World Problems" on the same lines as its existing "Yearbook of International Organizations" - provided that the international organizations responded adequately to a request to each to supply information on the problems they recognized in their area of competence.
A questionnaire was sent out in early 1971 and reprinted in the UAI's periodical "International Associations". The response was not good - even from the Specialized Agencies of the United Nations. Some organizations assumed the information already existed, others could not seethe relevance of it, and finally some offered the facilities of their physically inaccessible libraries. This meant that this source could only be used as a supplementary one - it also meant that this source could not get the volume rapidly into print without extra funding.
These results seemed to indicate that many organizations were not highly (or at least explicitly) conscious of the specific problems to which they were addressing themselves. Few are capable of giving an immediate response to a request for a precise description of the problems with which they are concerned. The network of problems may In general appear as a blur of issues rather than In sharp focus. This is partly due to a lack of systematic handling of Information on problems. A sharper focus may be facilitated by a project of this kind.
In parallel thrusts, the proposer was involved in the production of a working paper on a computer system to handle the interrelationships between "concepts" in the social sciences. This has been completed and is sufficiently general to handle "problems" as well. (Anthony Judge. Relationships between Elements of Knowledge; use of computer systems to facilitate construction, comprehension and comparison of the concept thesauri of different schools of thought. (Working paper prepared for the Committee on Conceptual and Terminological Analysis of the International Political Science Association) Brussels, Union of International Associations, 150 p.) Data collected under this proposal could be coded for use with the concept system when implemented.
PROBLEMS AND ORGANIZATIONAL STRATEGY
The main problem in the study of "problems - and the organizations attempting to solve them is that the environmental context of organizations is changing, at an increasing rate, and towards increasing complexity, in many cases, the changed texture of the environment is not recognized by the executive body of an organization until it is too late. It fails entirety to appreciate that a number of outside events are becoming connected with each other in a way that leads up to irreversible general change. The first response to the situation is to make an herculean effort to defend the traditional approach. When this does not succeed, many upheavals and changes in approach take place, until a "redefinition of mission" is agreed, and slowly and painfully the organization reemerges with a very much altered programme, and something of a new identity.
It was the experience and a number of others not dissimilar by no means all of them industrial (and including studies of change problems in hospitals, prisons, and In educational and political organizations. that gradually lad two scholars F.E. Emery and E.L. Trist, to feel a need for redirecting conceptual attention to the nature of the organization environment . They isolated four "ideal types" of organization environment. An attempt has been made below to define the four types of problem which may be associated with each of the four types of organizational envronment described by Emery and Trist (F.E. Emery and E.L. Trist The Causual Texture of Organizational Environments, Human Relations, vol. 18 (1965), pp. 21-62)
Type 1 : Docile, isolated problems.
The simplest type of problem is relatively isolated. This means that it is in effect "contained" by an organized and orderly environment An organization is there fore free to locate such problems and move towards them. attack, and eliminate them. Because such problems are randomly distributed, there is no necessity for an organization to make any distinction between tactics and strategy. The optimal strategy is just the simple tactic of attempting to do one's best on a purely local basis. The best tactic, moreover, can be teamed only by trial and error, and only tar a particular class of local environmental variances. This means that organizations can easily adapt to each new problem as it is located with in their domain.
Type 2 : Docile problem groups.
The situation becomes more complex when the problems are no longer isolated, but are grouped or clustered together in certain ways. The solution to a problem is one part of the structure may be compensated by some increase in strength of some other part of the problem cluster.
An organization under these circumstances can no longer afford to attempt to deal tactically with each new environmental variance as it occurs. Some form of strategy is required. The organization needs to know how to manoeuvre in its environment around the problem cluster In order to find the most useful method of attack. To pursue a goal under its nose may lead H into pan of the field fraught with danger, while avoidance of an immediately difficult issue may lead it away from potentially rewarding areas.
The organization has to learn to concentrate its resources, organize them in terms of a general plan, and develop a distinctive competence in handling certain types of problems. Organizations under these conditions. therefore tend to grow in size and become hierarchical with a tendency towards centralized control and coordination.
|4 Types of Problem|
Type 3 : Dynamic interactive problems.
This is a situation whim changes In one problem area give rise to changes in another problem area. The situation is complicated because it is no longer possible (or an organization to assume that it can act without taking into account other organizations. Several, or even many, organizations may be concerned with the same group of interacting problems. The solution of one problem by one organization may create several new problems for other bodies.
The goal of one organization may be the same as the goal of another organization. Noting this, each will wish to improve its own chances by hindering the others, and each will know that the others must not only wish to do likewise, but also knows that each knows this. Unfortunately, this attitude is not only applicable to profit making organizations, but also to non-profit organizations. Thus two organizations with the same non-profit objective (whether it be "development-,-refugee-relief -, etc). Will not always be purely cooperative in their relationships with one another. As soon as one organization feels that the other is intriguing upon its -territories-, it starts, indirectly, attempting to hinder the other.
It now becomes necessary to define the organizational objectives in terms of capacity or power to move more or less at will, i.e., to be able to make and meet competitive challenge. This gives particular relevance to situations in which stability can be obtained only by a certain to-terms with competitors whether enterprises, interest groups, or governmental agencies. One has to know when not to fight to the death.
Type 4 : Aggressive interactive problems.
In the final stage of complexity, the interactive problems do not merely respond unpredictably to the actions of the organizations tackling them, but appear to have a momentum and aggressive initiative of their own. They increase or decrease in importance and manner of interaction without it being possible to determine the original cause of the change. The organization's environment may now be called turbulent and the assumptions upon which the organization bases its action are threatened by this turbulence. The -ground"is in motion,
For organizations, these trends mean a growing increase in their area of relevant uncertainty. The consequences which now from their actions lead off in ways which becomes increasingly unpredictable : they do not necessarily fail off with distance but may at any point be simplified beyond all expectations; similarity, lines of action that are strongly pursued may find themselves attenuated by emergent forces.
This turbulent environment demands some new form of organization that is essentially different from the hierarchically structure forms to which we are accustomed. Whereas Type 3 problems require one or other form of accommodation between like, but competitive, organizations, whose fates are to a degree negatively correlated turbulent environments require some relationship between dissimilar organizations whose ates are. basically. positively correlated, This mains relationship that will maximize cooperation and which recognize that no one organization can take over the role of "the other"and become paramount It is in this type of environmental matrix organizatios should be considered, (Matrix organizations were discussed in an article in - International Associations, 1971, March, pp. 154-170).
PROBLEMS AND THEIR IDENTIFICATION
Another approach to identifying problems is to distinguish different level of ease with which they can be detected, in the previous section, the four groups of problems differ along the dimension simplicity/complexity, A slightly different approach below is based on the degree to which the difficulty of perceiving certain problems inherent in the organizationsal,cultural, or psychological assumption of the people attempting to detect each problems.
The following seven problem levels are an indication of the:
1. First level problems : direct consequence of lack of adequate economic resources, e.g. malnutrition, disease, rich-poor gap, etc,
2. Second level problems : social consequences and repercussions of the presence of primary problems, e.g. refugees,illiteracy, crime, etc.
3. Third level problems ; economic and social consequences of adaptation to an environment modified by the presence of primary and secondary level problems, e.g.. population explosion, impoverishment of social structures, urban decay, mental health, delinquency, discrimination, etc.
4. Fourth level problems ; organizational (or societal) coordination and resource allocation problems (arising from the institutionalization of organized response to past low level problems) which prevent adequate response to current problems, e.g. problems of coordination and resource allocation between agencies interested in lower-level problems previously considered to be Isolated and now recognized to be interacting, selection of high priority projects, design of adequate systems, value-related problems, problems of relevance, credibility, etc.
5. Fifth level problems : conceptual, psychological and cultural problems (deriving from the difficulties of communication in the fragmented environment characterized by the presence of fourth level problems) which prevent decision-makers and their supporters from being able to justify inter-territorial, interdisciplinary or inter-jurisdictionalsolutions - thus reinforcing fourth level problems and positions, e.g. problems of meaning of tame terms in different cultures or disciplines, problem of establishing criteria of relevance to a spectrum of disciplines and Interests, problem of focusing on the interdependence of disciplines and interests, problems of defining integrated closed systems.
6. Sixth level problems : conceptual and cultural problems opposing awareness of society as an ongoing integrated process with a multiplicity of social entities and sub- processes in ecological balance - providing a framework for the solution of fifth level problems.
7. Seventh level problems : problems deriving from lack of awareness on the pan of social entities of their particular positive end negative functions in the social process in which they are embedded -namely feedback sensitivity of organizations, disciplines and individuals.
The first two levels am generally recognized within governmental programmes, the third in the more farsighted government programmes (e.g. Unesco), the fourth level by those studying the problems of planning and decision-making, the fifth level and above are only noted in isolated studies and analyses of the social crisis.
Geographical spread. Recognized in at least 3 countries or considered to exist in more than 3 countries (i.e. not the problem of one country only). Disciplinary spread. Common to, or with Implicit- liens for more than one discipline (i.e. not a problem internal to one discipline only) and preferably those which have implications (or different classes of disciplines (e.g. natural sciences and social sciences).
Expert recognition. Recognized by more than one expert, preferably by experts In different countries, and more preferably by national or International bodies (l.e. aim Is to determine that the problem has an adequate constituency ).
Expert documentation. Problems must be the subject of serious article(s), scholarly studies, official reports, or reported meetings with a minimum of 3 citable articles referring to the problem. Problems must be adequately documented or their recognition must be adequately argued.
Time period. The problem must be noted over the past 5 years. Problems become "dead" when society no longer recognizes their existence - there is however a difficulty over publication dates of cited sources given delays.
Non-secret It is obvious that " problems"* legitimized by classified material or secret knowledge cannot be included.
Non-routine. No problems which arise, are encountered and solved as part of normal technical, academic, research, legal, administrative or political activity (i.e. "contained" problems). World problems must constitute a definite obstacle to routine procedures.
Institutionalized. Problems may become the subject of specific institutional activity (i.e. an organization is deliberately created to solve the problem) which should normally cease once the problem is solved.
Developed implications for society. No problems whose implications for society as a whole have not been clarified (i,e. no problems seen as * fundamental "or of general implication from one perspective; but for which the wider implications have not been developed),
Resource allocation. Preferably problems to whose solution resources from different countries are being allocated.
Autonomous. Preferably problems rather than "subproblems" (i.e. problems should be clearly isolateable). But where the "nesting" is not immediately apparent, or the dependence of one on the other is questionable or ambiguous, sub-problems should be treated as problems in their own right (possible dependence will be indicated within the entry).
Potential problems. Problems can be potential or future problems (i.e. problems which do not currently exist because some threshold has not yet been passed but whose emergence Is predicted for some future date (within the next thirty years) and for which preventive action Is advocated now).
Moral /ethical problems. No problems concerned with such questions as such, unless expressed in terms of their Impact on society and recognized within contexts not normally concerned with such problems In their own right (e.g. bribery and corruption ere ethical problems which could be accepted because of their significance for economic and social development).
Seriousness. Must be some indication that the problem If not solved will aggravate or cause social tension, or alternatively is a key factor in- preventing the solution to other problems which result in such tensions.
Anti-group problems. No problems documented by s group of bodes as being caused by the * dangerous activity of another group (i.e. no inter- group problems), unless this may be considered as a more general problem in the light of other independent sources of information.
Non-abstract. Conceptual, abstract or Intellectual problems only in so far as their social implications, or those of their eventual solution, can be demonstrated.
Duration. Short-term calamities or other natural disasters should not be treated as problems, although the class of such disasters (e.g. earthquakes in general) can be so treated (I.e. no isolated one- off problems),
Conflict and disputes. Territorial or political conflict or disputes should only be treated as problems when there is recognition that it may precipitate a regional or international conflict (I.e. continuing tensions between communities would be registered where this is seen to be critical to the survival of the country as an integral) unit).
Examples of world problems
The following problems represent a selection from a preliminary list of candidates. They include a number of less well-known ones which to the expert in the area in question have many repercussions on others.
It is not feasible to mention here many of the dynamic, psycho-social problems as they are not known by simple keywords. The following are examples of possible candidates, mainly from the policy sciences:
As modelled on the entries in the "Yearbook of International Organizations".:
4356 (reference number).
Water pollution - Pollution des eaux - etc. -etc. (Common title in 4 languages)
c/o International Information Institute on Water Pollution, 4 Lasweg. Utrecht, Netherlands, (Name and address of main clearing house for information on the problem -- if such a body exists.)
Description (summary description of the nature of the problem, in effect its definition.)
History (background to problem: when it was first noted)
Development: (brief details on how the problem has developed overtime, e.g. some comparative statistics where the problem merits this)
Occurrence (list of countries in which the problem has been noted.)
Significance (extract of text showing the vital importance of this particular problem, why action is urgent,and when the situation is likely to become critical; this could be a quotation.)
Denials of Significance (this section might be included to balance the previous one; the counter-quotation would indicate views on the relative insignificance of the problem.)
Solutions (brief details of the difficulties and cost of solving the problem.)
Contributing Problems (problems whose existence contributes to the aggravation of this problem - with reference number(s) (**)
Consequential Problems (problems which are aggravated by the existence of this problem - with reference number(s) (**)
Associated Problems (problems which occur simultaneously with this problem - with refer number(s) (**)
Meta-problems (problems of which this problem is a part - with reference numbers (**))
Problem Subdivisions (problems which form part of this problem - with reference numbers (**))
IGOs Concerned (indicating which Intergovernmental and United Nations agencies recognized the existence of this problem)
INGOs Concerned (indicating international nongovernmental organizations which recognized the existence of this this problem)
Governments Concerned (indicating which governments have formally recognized the existence of this problem.)
Programs (indicating international programs concerned with this problem.)
Program Areas (indicating which countries have programs to deal with this problem.)
Information (addresses of documentation centers, possibly national information clearing houses, if any, on this problem.)
Publications (standard reference book on this problem.)
Periodicals (periodicals and bibliographies covering this problem specifically.)
Meetings (regular meetings held on this problem.)
(**) Each of the problems referred to here would be described in their own entries elsewhere in the series.
It is useful to envisage a sequence of stops which would provide the foundation for more systematic handling of problem networks.
1.1 Existence of problem. Some means of registering centrally, and semi-officially, the existence of a problem is required. Clearly the "existence" of a problem is always subject to query. One group states or "proves". In the light of a favoured model, that a problem exists and another group with a different model contests the claim. It is because of this nullifying effect that no consensus can be reached on the universe of problems or the information system to handle it. The approach advocated here is that each "problem", whose existence Is postulated by some group, should be handled in the same administrative way to get it filed within the system (the behavioural event of the postulation of its existence is also significant.) Judgement is suspended. Only at later stages should sophisticated models and criteria, be imposed on the universe of problems to classify them, eliminate some as irrelevant or duplicates, and evaluate others for criticality. When resources permit, statistical data on the growth of the problem over time may also be added to give a dynamic picture.
1.2. Existence of relationships. The relationships declared to exist between problems are many and varied. They are as subject to dispute as the existence of the problems themselves. A similar approach to that of the registration of postulated problems is required. Judgement is suspended. Only at later later stages are models imposed on the data to eliminate some relationships as irrelevant in terms of a particular perspective. When resources permit, any statistical or mathematical expression for the relationship between problems may be added to obtain a dynamic picture.
Stage 1. is as far as it is proposed to go under this proposal - with extra effort on inclusion of systematic statistical data on each problem only in exceptional cases, or where it is easily available. Stage 2, is envisaged as one means of using the data base created.
2.1. User problem classification. Each group of users needs to classify and select problems in some especially relevant way. Providing a comprehensive universe of problems, obliges users to ensure that they do not omit certain problems which may be Indirectly significant to their perspective. 2.2 User relationship classification. (see 2.1)Stage 2 results in a selection and primitive ordering of the universe which a group wishes to consider. The next stage concerns the more delicate process of weighting the elements of this universe for relative importance.
3.1. Relative weighting of problems. Aside from the preliminary ordering by subject or type accomplished in stage 2, a group must continue to order problems in terms of their perceived relative importance. It is possible to envisage some ranking scheme in terms of which each problem could be coded by the group.when resources permit, some evaluation of tolerance zones of criticality maybe incorporated.
3.2. Relative weighting of relationships (see 3.1.)
Stage 3 establishes the ordered universe which the group has to handle to handle. The next stage concerns the action priorities.
4. Relative priority of problems. An action oriented group must examine the network of problems, each element duly weighted for importance, and decide on the strategy by which to attack it. It is obviously not simply a question of tackling the most important problems first. Some important problems can best be tackled indirectly via some minor problem on which the major problem is dependent. Some major problems cannot be tackled without :. care of the minor problems which contribute directly to their continued existence. One may be that the body from which resources have to b does not recognize as politically significant - hence unfundworthy - certain key portions of the network. An Indirect strategy is therefore necessary.
5. Deadlines. Given the importance of each problem and trends to increasing criticality of particular problems or problem complexes, decisions must be taken on (a) Ideal, (b) optimum and (c) final deadlines by which given problems must be solved to provide a true requirement range for each problem.
Stage 4 results in an action strategy. Stage 5 results in a schedule of deadlines. The decision must then be taken as to the allocation of resources in support of that strategy.
6.Resource allocation. The solution to each problem requires the allocation of certain resources. A decision on the (a) ideal, (b) optimum, and (c) minimum amounts required must be taken to provide a funds requirement range for each problem.
7. Critical path. Optimal critical path(s) through problems can now be computed in terms of the resources available. Clearly this computation requires much trade off between problem solution pay-offs and much feedback and interaction between Stages 4, 5 and 6, in order to arrive at an optimum path within the framework of the groups expressed preferences.
In Stages 2 through 7 it has been convenient to forget that other groups approach the universe of problems in terms of different dimensions am value preferences. This results in a different weighting of the relative importance of problems, a different priority preference, a different deadline evaluation, different resource allocation, and hence different critical paths through the problem network. In some cases, the preferences of other groups may be ignored, in others acquisition of adequate resources for a particular strategy requires their support and hew. ; upon negotiation and a knowledge of the other group(s) preferred critical paths.
It is at this point that a major advantage of this approach emerges. If other groups have all started from the same universe of problem elements, although weighting the elements differently at each stage, then there is still much in common between the parties. If on the other hand, each has started in terms of its own universe of problems, there is little basis for element by element discussion and negotiation.
8. Comparison of different critical path preferences. At this stage, a discussion-negotiation procedure is set up to compare and optimize between the critical paths favoured by different groups. Hopefully from this emerges a final optimal critical path or alternatively several partially unintegrated parallel paths through the problem network.
Up to this point, the focus has been mainly on the problem network with the assumption adequate organizational channels can be found via which to apply resources to each problem. Most often this is not the case. The map of organizations, agencies and programs that make up society is as it were, a sort of clear overlay against the page underneath it which represents the problem realities of the society. And the overlay is always out of phase in relation to what is underneath: at any given time, there is always a mis-match between the organizational map and the reality of the problems that people think are worth solving (Donald A.Schon. Beyond the Stable State; public and private learning in a changing society. Temple Smith, 1971.). (Or as the French say:"Les yeux ne sont pas en face des trous.")
In order to channel the funds in the best possible way, some display of the network of existing and proposed organizations, agencies and programs is required.
9. Comparison with existing organizational channels. the network of problems, structured in terms of the critical path emerging from the last stage must now be matched against the network of organizational resources. Ideally funds are made available to solve problems and to maintain the structure of society - but many organizations are simply memorials to old problems (Schon, op.cit.) . Clearly a similar weighting procedure must be established and negotiated between groups to arrive at a consensus on the viability of each organization as a channel for funds for a particular problem. The non-viable organizational elements must then be examined to determine whether program funds should be used to maintain them in existence (e.g. for socio- cultural reasons or whether they should be disbanded or restructured into the more viable new organizational element required. Clearly decisions not to continue to support existing organizational structures can bring problems into existence. There is a trade-off between the now problems created and the old problems solved by a given use of funds. The same discussion - negotiation stages on the part of different groups is required.
10. Continuing check of information exchange patterns. A given network of organizations results in a certain information exchange pattern. This is reinforced by tradition and the models of reality supported by different schools of thought. It is important - as a continuing procedure - to check that this pattern parallels the relationships between the problem areas. If it does not, then organizations develop structures and programs which ignore relevant information on problems related to the ones with which they are primarily concerned. The knowledge structure - particularly the interdisciplinary and cross-modal features - should be sufficiently complex to match the complexity detected In the network of problems in order to be able to provide an adequate framework for program formulation.
Stages 2 through 10 demand progressively more sophisticated means of handling and displaying data. The use of interactive computer graphics for this purpose is discussed in Annex G.
The networks of problems and the methods by which it is suggested that they should be handled have many points in common with "relevance tree" techniques and network planning techniques such as Critical Path Method and Program Evaluation and Review Technique - as used in technological recasting (Erich Jantsch. Technological Forecasting in Perspective. Paris, OECD. 1967, pp. 211-240).
Mention has been frequently made above of handling representations of problem (and even organizational) networks. Unless the objective is strictly limited, as in this proposal, conventional manual manipulation of complex networks of relationships is extremely cumbersome and self- inhibiting.
In Annex F, Stages 3 through 10 require very responsive interaction between a group and the representation of the problem network. Groups must be able to maintain the momentum of thought, discussion and negotiation concerning each element of the network, whilst maintaining a constant overview of the particular portion of the network within which they are engaged. At the negotiation stage, there is a need to switch between each groups problem network and to be able to match or over. different groups versions of the network and its critical action path. There is a need to be able to call up back-up statistics and explanatory text. In summary, there is need for Increasingly powerful means of penetrating and comprehending the data.
One approach to this is suggested by the work of Douglas Engelbart at the Augmentation Research Center (Stanford Research Institute). By the concept of"augmenting human intellect" is meant:
"increasing the capability of a man to approach a complex problem situation, to gain comprehension to suit his particular needs, and to derive solutions to problems. Increased capability in this respect is taken to mean a mixture of the following: more-rapid comprehension, better comprehension, the possibility of gaining a useful degree of comprehension in a situation that previously was too complex, speedier solutions, and the possibility of finding solutions to problems that before seemed Insoluble. And by "complex situations" we Include the professional problems of diplomats, executives, social scientists, life scientists, physical scientists, attorneys, designers - whether the problem situation exists for twenty minutes or twenty years. We do not speak of Isolated clever tricks that help in particular situations. We refer to a way of life in an integrated domain where hunches, cut- and-try, intangibles, and the human "feel for a situation" usefully co-exist with powerful concepts, streamlined terminology and notation, sophisticated methods, and high-powered electronic aids. Man's population and gross product are increasing at a considerable rate but the complexity of his problems grows still faster, and the urgency with which solutions must be found becomes steadily greater In response to the increased rate of activity and the increasingly global nature of that activity. Augmenting man's intellect, in the sense defined above, would warrant full pursuit by an enlightened society if there could be shown a reasonable approach and some plausible benefits." ( D.C. Engelbart. Augmenting Human Intellect: a conceptual framework. Stanford Research Institue, 1962, 134 p. (AFOSR-3223).)
A multi-access system has been developed to meet these needs and is now operational - providing a very sophisticated "intellectual workshop". (D.C. Engelbart. Advanced Intellect-Augmentation Techniques. SRI, 1970 (Project 7079); Intellectual implications of multi-access computer networks. (Paper for the Proceedings of the Interdisciplinary Conference on Multi-access Computer Networks, Austin, 1970)
Another approach, which is essentially complementary, but is at this stage less costly, is the use of computer interactive graphics for data handling (See: Anthony. Judge. Computer-aided visualization of psycho-social structures. op.cit.; Visualization of Organization. Brussels,Union of International Associations, 1970, 16 mm film showing use of the technique.) This is basically a TV screen attached to a computer. The user sits at a keyboard in from of the screen and has at his disposal a light-open (or some equivalent device) which allowshim to point to elements of a representation of a network of problems displayed on the screen. He can manipulate this structure in useful ways - corresponding to the requirements of Stages 3 to 10 in Annex I .
In effect, the graphics device provides the user with a window or viewport onto the network of psycho-system entities. He can instruct the computer, , via the keyboard, to
- move the window to give him, effectively, a view onto a different part of the network - another conceptual domain.
- introduce a magnification so that he can examine(or "zoom in" on) somedetailed sections of the network.
- introducediminution so that he can gain an overall view if the structure of the entity domain in which he is interested.
- introduce filters so that only certain types of relationships and entitle; displayed - either he can switch between models or he can impose restrictions on the relationships displayed within a model, i.e. has a hierarchy of filters at his disposal.
- modify parts of the network displayed to him by inserting or deleting entitles and relationships. Security codes can be arranged so that (a) he can modify the display for his own immediate use without permanently affecting the basic store of data, (b) he can permanently modify features of the model for which he is a member of the responsible body, (c) and so on.
- supply him with text on features of the network with which he is unfamiliar. If necessary he can split his viewport into two (or more) parts and have the parts of the network displayed in one (or more) part(s). He can then use the light-pen to point to each entity or relationship on which he wants a longer text description (e.g. the justifying argument for an entity or the mathematical function, if applicable, governing a relationship) and have it displayed in an adjoining viewport.
- track along the relationships between one entity and the next by moving the viewport to focus on each new entity. In this way the user moves through a representation of "psycho-social space" with each move, changing the constellation of entities displayed and bringing new entities and relationships into view.
- move up or down levels or "ladders of abstraction". The user can demand that the computer track the display (see point 7) between levels of abstraction, moving from sub-system to system at each move bringinginto view the psycho-social context of the system displayed.
- distinguish between entities and relationships on the basis of user-selected characteristics. The user can hove the "relevant" (to him) en: with more prominent symbols and the relevant relationships with heavier lines.
- select an alternativeform of presentation. Some users may prefer block diagram flow charts to Illustrate the relationship between entities, other may prefer a matrix display, others mayprefer Venn diagrams, or "Venn spheres" In 3 dimensions, etc. These are all interconvertible (e.g. the Venn circles are computed taking each network node as a center and giving a radius to include all the sub-branches of the network from that node.)
- copy a particular display currently on the screen. A user may ant to keep a personal record of parts of the network which are of interest to him. (He can either arrange for a dump onto a tape which can drive a graph plotter, a microfilm plotter, or copy onto a video-cassette, or obtain a direct photocopy.)
- arrange for a simultaneous search through a coded microfilm to provide appropriate slide images or lengthy text which can in its turn be photocopied.
- select significance of coordinate axes to order structure to highlight features of interest in terms of the chosen dimensions.
- simulate a three-dimensional presentation of the network by introducing an extra coordinate axis.
- rotate a three-dimensional structure (about the X or Y axis) in order to heighten the 3-D effect and obtain a better overall view "around" the structure.
- simulate a four-dimension presentation of the network by using various techniques for distinguishing entities and relationships (e.g. "flashing" relationships at frequencies corresponding to their importance in terms of the fourth dimension.)
- change the speed at which the magnification from the viewport is modified as a particular structure is rotaded.
- simulate the consequences of various changes introduced by the user in terms of his conditions. This is particularly usefull for cybernetic displays.
- perform variousgraph or network analyses on particular parts of the network and display the results in secondary viewport (e.g.the user might point a light-pen at an entity and request its centrality or request an indication of the inter-connectedness of a particular domain delimited with the light-pen.)
This is not the place to do more than outline some of the other present and future possibilities in this area. Video-cassette copies of system structures can be widely distributed and used lor university or public TV documentaries on complex eco-systems. Microfilm and other plotters can be used to map large and complex systems. Colour graphics units (some up to 150 x 150 cm) are in use with the possibility of 512 colours.
This allows even more information to be conveyed in one image.
Thepotential importance of this tool for handling complex networks of problems may perhaps best be illustrated by the complexity of natural eco-systems. 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 problem. in their study and management. In: K.E.F. Webb (Ed.) Systems Analysis in Ecology. New York, Academic, 1966, pp. 15-35.)
The computer is the ideal tool for handling all these relationships and simplifying their presentation to the user so that he is not overloaded. Clearly, such a device should be even more essential where the problem network extendsinto the psycho-social system.
This powerful data handling approach needs to be tested out on a non- trivial problem.One purpose of this project is to provide a data base which would lend itself to manipulation by this sort of device during the course of complex negotiations in which step by step compromises between value preferences of different groups require responsive modifications to the representation of the universe about which they are negotiating. (Kenneth Hammond at the Institute of Behavioral Sciences, University of Boulders, has experimented with computer graphics in a labour dispute as a means of bringing out preference differences with respect to different contract conditions in order to facilitate convergence on a mutually agreeable solution.)
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