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The Twilight of Hierarchy Speculations on the Global Information Societal HARLAN CLEVELAND THE INFORMATIZATION OF SOCIETY It is still shocking, forty years later, to remember that the Manhattan Project, the huge secret organization that produced the atom bomb during World War II, did not employ on its staff a single person whose full-time assignment was to think hard about the policy implications of the project if it should succeed. Thus no one was working on nuclear arms control though I. I. Rabi says he and Robert Oppenheimer used to discuss it earnestly over lunch. We have been playing catch-up, not too successfully, ever since. The Manhattan Project was not an exception; it was the rule. For 300 years until the 1970s science and technology were quite generally regarded as having a life of their own, an inner logic, an autonomous sense of direction. Their selfjustifying ethic was change and growth. But in the 1970s society started to take charge not of scientific discovery but of its technological fallout. The decision not to build the SST or deploy an ABM system even though we knew how to make them, the dramatic change in national environmental policy, and the souring of the nuclear power industry bear witness. The most prominent and pervasive consequence of the people's concern about the impacts and implications of new technologies is what the French call l'informatisation de la society. The made-up *Copynght 1985 by Harlan Cleveland. 55

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56 HARLAN CLEVELAND word, which we will Americanize to informatization, will serve as well as any to describe what is happening to some of our key concepts and conceptions as information becomes the dominant resource in postin- dustrial society. The new word is certainly better than postindustrial, which describes the future by saying it comes after the past. The revolutions that began with Charles Babbage's analytical engine (less than 150 years ago) and Guglielmo Marconi's wireless telegraphy (not yet a century old) started on quite different tracks. But a quarter of a century ago, computers and telecommunications began to converge to produce a combined complexity, one interlocked industry that is transforming our personal lives, our national politics, and our inter- national relations. The industrial era was characterized by the influence of humankind over things, including nature as well as the artifacts of man. The information era features a sudden increase in humanity's power to think, and therefore to organize. The information society does not replace, it overlaps, the growing, extracting, processing, manufactunng, recycling, distnbution, and consumption of tangible things. Agriculture and industry continue to progress by doing more with less through better knowledge, leaving plenty of room for a knowledge economy that, in statistics now widely accepted, accounts for more than half of our work force, our national product, and our global reach. A DOMINANT RESOURCE, A DIFFERENT RESOURCE The size and scope of the information society are now familiar even in the popular literature. We can take it as read that information is the dominant resource in the United States, and coming to be so in other advanced or developed countries. To take only one cross section of this startling shift, the actual production, extraction, and growing of things now soak up a good deal less than a quarter of our human resources. Of all the rest, which used to be lumped together as services, more than two-thirds are information workers. By the end of the century, something like two-thirds of all work will be information work. Table 1 shows one effort at describing the sweep of change. It is not only in the United States that the informatization of society has proceeded so far so fast. A study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (the club of richer nations, with head-

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THE: TWILIGHT OF HIERARCHY TABLE 1 U.s. Work Force Distribution 57 1880 1920 1955 1975 2000 (est.) Agriculture & extractive 505 OCR for page 55
58 HARLAN CLEVE MOD the information that will be brought to life by being used) and the capacity of peopleindividually and in groups to analyze and think integratively. There are obvious limits to the time each of us can devote to the production and refinement of knowledge and wisdom. But the capacity of humanity to integrate its collective experience through relevant individual thinking is certainly expandablenot with- out limits, to be sure, but within limits we cannot now measure or . . imagine. Information is not resource-hungry. Compared to the processes of the steel-and-automobile economy, the production and distribution of information are remarkably spanog in their requirements for energy and other physical and biological resources. Investments, price policies, and power relationships which assume that the more developed countries will gobble up disproportionate shares of real resources are overdue for wholesale revision. Information is substitutable. It can and increasingly does replace capital, labor, and physical materials. Robotics and automation in factories and offices are displacing workers and thus requiring a transformation of the labor force. Any machine that can be accessed by computerized telecommunications does not have to be in your own inventory. And Dieter Altenpohl, an executive of Alusuisse, has calculations and charts to prove that, as he says, '`The smatter the metal, the less it weighs.''6 Information is transportable. In modern communication systems information travels at close to the speed of light. As a result, remoteness is now more choice than geography. You can sit in Auckland, New Zealand, and play the New York stock markets in real time if you do not mind keeping slightly peculiar hours. And the same is true, without the big gap in time zones, of people in any rural hamlet in the United States. In the world of information-richness, you will be able to be remote if you want to, but you will have to work at it. Information is diffusive. It tends to leak- and the more it leaks the more we have. It is not the inherent tendency of natural resources to leak: jewels may be stolen; a lump or two of coal may fall off the coal car on its way east from Montana; and there is an occasional spillage of oil in the ocean. But the leakage of information is wholesale, pervasive, and continuous. In the era of the institutionalized leak, monopolizing information is very nearly a contradiction in terms. Information monopolies will exist, as time passes, only in more and more specialized fields, for shorter and shorter periods of time. Information is shareable. Shortly before his death, Colin Cherry wrote that information by nature cannot give rise to exchange trans-

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TlIE 71~ILIGHT OF HIERARCHY 59 actions, only to shanug transactions.7 Things are exchanged if I give you a flower or sell you my automobile. When our exchange transaction is done, you have it and I do not. If I sell you an idea, however, or give you a fact, we both have it. An information-rich environment is thus a sharing environment. That need not mean an environment without standards, rules, conventions, and ethical codes. It does mean that the standards, rules, conventions, and codes are going to be different from those created to manage the zero-sum bargains of market trading and traditional international relations. THE EROSION OF HIERARCHIES I am not a scholar of information/communication theory, but in my listening and reading as a practicing generalist I am struck with three seminal ideas as containing the most nourishment for our purpose, which is to think about how the new information environment is likely to modify our inherited assumptions about rule, power, and authority. One is that information (in its generic sense) is not like other resources, nor, as some would have it, merely another form of energy. It is not subject to the laws of thermodynamics, and efforts to explain the new information environment by using metaphors from physics will just get in our way. A second idea I find nourishing is that the ultimate purpose of all knowledge is to organize things or people, arrange them in ways that make them different from the way they were before. This is true of rearranging the genes in a chromosome, and it is equally true of rearranging people's ideas to create a movement. There is no such thing as useless knowledge, only people who have not yet learned how to use it. This was the powerful message canned in a 1979 article in Science by Lewis Branscomb, chief scientist of IBM. He wrote that information is so far from being scarce that it is in "chronic surplus." There is still plenty for scientists to find out, but `'the yawning chasm is between what is already known by some but not yet put to use by others."8 A third insight, from the late British communications theorist Colin Cherry, is the distinction between the inflation ("message'') itself and the service of delivering it. You may own the paper you hold in your hand, but you do not own its contents, the facts and ideas in the paper. Neither, now that I have written them down and you and I are sharing them, do I.9 The historically sudden dominance of the information resource has, it seems, produced a kind of theory crisis, a sudden sense of having

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60 HARLAN CLEVELAND run out of basic assumptions. This is only partially the product of information and communication technologies and their fusion in the new systems that are sprouting daily. Other dramatic extensions of scientific rationalism and engineering genius such as nuclear fission and gene splicing all with an indispensable assist from the new information technologies- have also made their contribution to the bouleversement of long-held social and political convictions. But somewhere near the center of the confusion is the trouble we make for ourselves by carrying over into our thinking about information (which is to say symbols) concepts developed for the management of things~oncepts such as property, depletion, depreciation, monopoly, unfa~messes in distnbution, geopolitics, the class struggle, and top- down leadership. The assumptions we have inherited are not producing satisfactory growth with acceptable equity either in the capitalist West or in the socialist East. As Simon Nora and Alain Minc wrote in their landmark report to the president of France: "The liberal and Marxist approaches, contemporaries of the production-based society, are rendered ques- tionable by its deniise."~ The most troublesome concepts are those that were created to deal with the main problems presented by the management of things- problems such as their scarcity, their bulk, their limited substitutability for each other, the expense and trouble in transporting them, the paucity of infonnation about them (which made them comparatively easy to hide), and the fact that, being tangible, they could be hoarded. It was in the nature of things that the few had access to resources and the many did not. Thus, the inherent characteristics of physical resources (both natural and man-made) made possible the development of hierarchies of power based on control (of new weapons, of energy sources, of trade routes, of markets, and especially of knowledge), hierarchies of influence based on secrecy, hierarchies of class based on ownership, hierarchies of privilege based on early access to valuable resources, and hierarchies of politics based on geography. Each of these five bases for discrimination and unfairness is crumbling today because the old means of control are of dwindling efficacy; secrets are harder and harder to keep; and ownership, early arrival, and geography are of dwindling significance in getting access to the knowledge and wisdom which are the really valuable legal tender of our time. Out of dozens of assumptions requiring a newly skeptical stare in the new knowledge environment, these five seem to me to bear most

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THE TWILIGHT OF HIERARCHY 61 directly on leadership and management, because they are likely to affect most profoundly the ways in which, and the purposes for which, people will in future come together in organizations to make something different happen. POWER BASED ON CONTROL: POWER AND PARTICIPATION Knowledge is power, as Francis Bacon wrote in 1597. So the wider the spread of knowledge, the more power gets diffused. For the most part individuals, corporations, and governments do not have a choice about this; it is the ineluctable consequence of creating through education societies with millions of knowledgeable people. We see the results all around us, and around the world. More and more work gets done by horizontal processor it does not get done. More and more decisions are made with wider and wider consultation or they do not stick. If the Census Bureau counted each year the number of committees per thousand population, we would have a rough quantitative measure of the bundle of changes called the information society. A revolution in the technology of organization- the twilight of hierarchyis already well under way. Once information could be spread fast and wid~rapidly collected and analyzed, instantly communicated, readily understood by mil- lionsthe power monopolies that closely held knowledge used to make possible were subject to accelerating erosion. In the old days when only a few people were well educated and knowledgeable, leadership of the uninformed was likely to be organized in vertical structures of command and control. Leadership of the informed is different: it results in the necessary action only if exercised mainly by persuasion, bringing into consultation those who are going to have to do something to make the decision a decision. Where people are educated and are not treated this way, they either balk at the decisions made or have to be dragooned by organized misinformation backed by brute force. Recent examples of both results have been on display in Poland. This is the rationale for Chester Barnard s durable theory of the executive function: that authority is delegated upward. As director of an organization, you have no power that is not granted to you by your subordinates. Eliciting their continuous (and, if possible, cheerful) cooperation is your main job as director; without it, you cannot get accomplished the most routine tasks (for which others are holding you, not your staff, responsible)." Indeed, nowadays in many offices orders that used to be routinely accepted are now resisted or refused.

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62 HARLAN CLEVELAND In the modern American office, if you want a cup of coffee you do not take that co-worker, your secretary, off her or his own work to get it for you. In an information-rich polity, the very definition of control changes. Very large numbers of people empowered by knowledge~oming together in parties, unions, factions, lobbies, interest groups, neigh- borhoods, families, and hundreds of other structures assert the right or feel the obligation to make policy. Decision making proceeds not by the flow of recommendations up and orders down, but by development of a shared sense of direction among those who must form the parade if there is going to be a parade. Collegial not command structures become the more natural basis for organization. Not command and control, but conferring and networking become the mandatory modes for getting things done. Planning cannot be done by a few leaders, or by even the brightest whiz kids immured in a systems analysis unit or a planning staff. Real-life planning is the dynamic improvisation by the many on a general sense of direction announced by the few, but only after genuine consultation with those who will have to improvise on it. More participatory decision making implies a need for much information, widely spread, and much feedback, seriously attended~as in biological processes. Participation and public feedback become conditions precedent to decisions that stick. That means more openness, less secrecy not as an ideological preference but as a technological imperative. Secrecy goes out of fashion anyway, because secrets are so hard to keep. And policy widens out to become what Paul Appleby, that farseeing philosopher of public administration, called it a generation ago. `'Policy," he said, '`is the decisions that are made at your level and higher."'2 But note that his vertical language is already obsolescent. Most of the history we learn in school is so narrowly focused on visible leaders that it may give us the wrong impression about leadership processes even in earlier times. We learn that Genghis Khan or Louis XIV or ibn-Saud or the emperor of Japan or George Washington said this and did thatas though he thought it up by himself, consulted with nobody, and wrote it without the help of a ghostwriter. But even in ancient, traditional societies I suspect that effective leadership consisted in being closely in touch with where the relevant publics were ready to be told to go. Consensus is a prominent feature of many cultures now dismissed as primitive. The Polynesians in the Pacific Islands with their circular village councils and the American Indians around their campfires made

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THE mILICHT OF HIERARCHY 63 (and in some degree still make) decisions by fluid procedures which may induce more genuine participation than a modern meeting run by parliamentary procedure. In the agora of Athens and the Roman "senate and public" (the SPQR), there seems to have been lively participation by those (wellborn male citizens) qualified to take part. The difference in the current scene is the sheer scale of the relevant publics. In democratic Athens slaves, women, tradesmen, and other noncitizens did not presume to play in the decision games. The notion that all men, let alone whole peoples, had inalienable rights came in only with the Enlightenment, a scant three centuries agoand has been made effective, still in a minority of the world's nations, only in the twentieth century. In Switzerland women still cannot vote. Participatory fever is contagious. Public policy used to mean what the government does. Now it includes corporate policies, collective bargaining agreements, the cost of health care, the recruitment of university presidents, lobbying practices, equal employment oppor- tunity, environmental protection, tax shelters, waste disposal, private contributions to political candidates, the sex habits of employees, or just about any other insider activities that outsiders think are important enough to engage their time and attention. The biggest issues so far have to do with the quality of public responsibility that shows forth in the actions of corporations, univer- sities, hospitals, and the thousands of other structures in which executives make the decisions that serve people, cost them, anger or please them. The rising tide of participation is reflected in dramatic orgaruzational changes. Big corporations now usually have a vice-president for keeping the corporation out of trouble with nosy outsiders, or even with their own stockholders and employees, who raise questions about what the company ought to produce, who it ought to employ, and how it ought to invest its money. Should my company, or any American company, make and market nerve gas, even if the government does want to buy some? Should my company, or any American company, promote nuclear proliferation by selling to developing countries nuclear power plants that make plutonium, the fuel for nuclear weapons, as a by-product of generating electricity? Shouldn't my company have more women, and blacks, and American Indians in its employand especially in its board and top management? Should a company whose stock I own invest my money in South Afnca? Should my company, or any American company, pass the social costs of its profit seekingovercrowding, the paving of green space, radioactive risk, dirt, noise, toxic waste,

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64 HARLAN\ CLEVELAND acid rain, or whatever to the general public? Should our community hospital perform abortions, splice genes, change people's sex, and invest in expensive equipment that can help only a few affluent patients? Should our state university do secret work for the Defense Department? Should the CIA recruit our students for who-knows-what clandestine wars in other people's countries? Such questions cannot be brushed aside without raising their decibel level. There are ways to deal with all of them: shifts of policy, or consultative processes, diversionary moves, or public explanations in descending order of probable effectiveness. But the visibly respon- sible leaders increasingly have to build into their organizations, not as a public relations frill but as an essential ingredient in bottom-line budgeting, staff members competent to help develop strategy on such issues as these. And the visible executive now has to be personally competent to defend the organization's public posture in public debate. These public responsibility issues can make or break companies, products, and executive reputations. If you do not believe that, take a Nestle executive to lunch and ask him about marketing baby formula in the Third World. INFLUENCE BASED ON SECRECY: DILEMMAS OF OPENNESS The push for participation by all kinds of people and the inherent leakiness of the information resource combine to produce the modern executive's most puzzling dilemma. The dilemma must have been familiar to the first cave people who tried to bring other cave people together to get something done. But for us moderns, the scale of the perplexity is without precedent. The dilemma can be summarized in one question: How do you get everybody in on the act and still get some action? The contemporary clamor to be in on the act is certainly impressive. In business, customers are feistier, more likely to complain; stock- holders are more numerous and less passive; policyholders are more inclined to follow through on their insurance claims; union members and other citizens give advice on what is wrong with the steel and automobile industries; employees assert the right to judge whether their employers should make fragmentation bombs; maritime unions decide whether shipments should go to the Soviet Union; advocacy agencies excluded from the United Way organize their own competing drive for community funds; ethnic groups keep a watchful eye on investments in South Africa and business with the Arabs. More and more parents have a world population policy; teachers organize to tell

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THE TWILIGHT OF HIERARCHY 65 school systems what ought to be taught; students want tailor-made courses of study. Environmental groups, carefully avoiding questions about whom they represent, are articulate (and effective) beyond the wildest dreams of Gifford Pinchot and Teddy Roosevelt. New kinds and colors of people are breaking through the oligopoly of influence long controlled by businessmen and male lawyers from early-a~Tiving ethnic groups. Even those deadly predictable circuses, our national political conventions, become increasingly interesting as minorities and women fill more delegate slots and live TV coverage enhances the risk that a delegate will be seen making a deal, picking his nose, adjusting her shoulder strap, or falling aslee~in millions of living rooms at once. Openness, then, is the buzzword of modernization. In its firmament the dieties are the public hearing, the news conference, the investigative reporter, "60 Minutes" and "20/20," Ted Koppel, Phil Donahue, and the National Enquirer. Its devils are also well known: smoke-filled rooms, secret invasions, hidden or edited tapes, and expense account luncheons at which The Establishment decides what to do next. In consequence, compared with a generation ago most public officials - and a rapidly growing number of private executives conscious of their ultimate public responsibility are much more inclined to ask themselves, before acting, how their actions would look on the front page of the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal or on the evening telecast. Even former Vice-President Agnew has conceded that taking cash from contractors in his government office might be wrong if judged by what he called post-Watergate moral standards. No one doubts that raising the risk of public exposure will improve the private behavior of executive leaders as they ask themselves, "How would ~ feel about this action if everyone was able to see me take it?" The moral of Watergate is plain enough: If the validity of your action depends on its secrecy, better decide to do something else. But the yen for wider knowledge and broader participation has gone well beyond this sensitivity training for visible leaders and has raised new questions about the cost-benefit calculation of more openness. A generation of experience suggests that it is high time we faced the next question: How much openness is enough? Since this is not a mystery story, I will reveal at the outset the conclusion of the next few paragraphs. Experience teaches that the procedures of openness are well designed to stop bad things from happening and ill designed to get good things moving unless the consensus for action has been built in private ahead of time.

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THE IU7ILIGHT OF HIERARCHY 69 The makers of software keep up their pitiful efforts to maintain a proprietary interest in their products, but the happy-go-lucky free distribution of copies of copyrighted diskettes has already become one of the friendly gestures that makes the owners of personal computers feel like members of a new kind of guild. The leakiness of the information resource seems destined to overwhelm the backward- looking efforts to imprison it. The history of arms control, and the success of computer pirates, teach us that there is always a techno- logical fix for a technological fix. Is the doctrine that information is owned by its originator (or compiler) necessary to make sure that Americans remain intellectually creative? In most other countries creative work is overwhelmingly controlled by organizations and carried out by salaried people. In Japan even the most inventive employee is likely to have a lifetime job and receive salary raises in lockstep with his age cohort, his morale sustained not by personal ownership of his ideas but by togetherness in an organizational family. Most U.S. patents are held by organizations (corporations, univer- sities, government agencies), not by the inventors. Many copyrights, perhaps most, are held by publishers and promoters, not by the authors and songwriters the Founding Fathers may have had in mind when they sewed information-as-property into the U.S. Constitution. An author or songwriter who helps a publisher make money should certainly participate in the proceeds. But direct agreements about profit sharing or joint venture arrangements (the movie industry is already full of relevant examples) seem a less fragile basis for such cooperation than the fraying fictions that the author owns the words in a book and that shared information is being exchanged. In U.S. universities and research institutes, creative work is already rewarded mostly by promotion, tenure, and tolerant traditions about teaching loads and outside consulting. We generate a respectably innovative R&D effort in public-sector fields such as military technol- ogy, space exploration, weather forecasting, environmental protection, and the control of infectious diseases without the scientists and inventors having to own the ideas they contribute to the process. In the private sector, the leaders of industries on the high-tech frontier are already saying out loud that their protection from overseas copyists does not lie in trade secrets but in healthy R&D budgets. The notion of information-as-property is built deep into our laws, our economy, and our political psyche and into the expectations and tax returns and balance sheets of writers and artists and the companies, agencies, and academies that pay them to be creative. But we had better continue to develop our own ways, compatible with our own

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70 HARLA~Nr CLEVEL.~YD traditions, of rewarding intellectual labor without depending on laws and prohibitions that are disintegrating fast as the Volstead Act did in our earlier effort to enforce an unenforceable Prohibition. In international politics the notion that knowledge is owned by sovereign states is in maximum disarray. Every newly miniaturized recording or micrographic device and every new satellite launched for communication or photography or remote sensing makes it more difficult to sustain the doctrine that national governments can own, or even control, their information resources. In 1979 the U.S. government sent two delegations to two world meetings about the control of information. At a UNESCO conference in Pans, the delegates righteously advocated the free flow of infor- mation, meaning information furnished by U.S. news agencies, U.S. television producers, and U.S. movie studios. A few weeks later, at the UN Conference on Science and Technology for Development in Vienna, an equally righteous group of Americans came out against the free flow of infold relation, meaning information as a technology we were anxious to hoard. Both principles are authentically American: the right to choose and the right to own. In the international discourse, we will hardly be able to have it both ways. Yet there is no evidence that the two groups of delegates, and the government that instructed them both, perceived the irony or the contradiction. The U.S. State Department, which instructed both delegations, seemed unusually disoriented by the new information environment when it ruled last year that Western European owners of IBM computers could not move them from, say, Birmingham to Manchester without first seeking U.S. permission. This assertion of extraterrito- riality, over equipment produced by a multinational company with headquarters in the United States, was designed to prevent strategic equipment from flowing indirectly to Communist countries. Regardless of the merits of the case, the edict is simply unenforceable. In the global information society, the long arms of ownership and control are shrinking fast. If information is inherently hard to bottle up, policies based on a long-term information monopoly are likely to have a short half-life. For the 1980s and beyond, the principle is clear: if the validity of your action depends on its continuing secrecy, do not depend on it. In our generation-long arms race with the Soviet Union, successive U.S. administrations have managed to persuade themselves that each new U.S. weapons system (its made-in-America technology a contin- uing mystery to our adversaries) would enable us to stay ahead. In one of the most damaging of these actions, in the early 1970s, the

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THE ~I~GHTOFRIE~RCHY 71 United States decided to stuff multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles (MlRVs) into single missiles. Despite elaborate secrecy on our part, the Soviets soon figured out how to do likewise. But since they (for other reasons) had built much bigger missiles boosted by more powerful rockets, they were able to stuff more MIRVs into their canisters than we could. Thus did we outsmart ourselves by taking an action that depended for its validity on technological secrecy, and create the famous window of vulnerability instead. In the management of mutual deterrence the overclassification of information about what we could do, if we had to, may actually increase the danger of war by miscalculation. The core of the nuclear deterrent, that remarkably stable if unattractive substitute for peace, is the Soviet leaders' uncertainty about what the U.S. president would do in the event of Soviet moves against our allies or ourselves combined with their certainty that we have the means to retaliate no matter what. Keeping our intentions credibly uncertain is easy: we cannot know what we would do in a situation until we know what the situation is. But keeping from our adversaries full knowledge of our capabilities merely adds another element of madness to the nuclear arms race. Our own government has for three decades engaged in halfhearted and demonstrably ineffective efforts to control strategic U.S. science and keep foreign nationals out of sensitive university research. In our mostly open society, it never worked very well. Americans have no corner on the market for brains; scientists talk quite freely across frontiers to each other; our European and Japanese allies never had much enthusiasm for controlling transborder information flows (be- cause sales of equipment mean jobs for Europeans and Japanese); and Soviet technological espionage, like our own, has long been a thriving industry. Keeping our R&D to ourselves is a policy that depends for its validity on secrecy. As informatization intensifies in the postindustrial world, strategic secrecy can be expected to work less and less well. Similar government behavior used to work better for dictators and totalitarian bureaucracies in societies where keeping information from spreading is honored by doctrine and practiced ad absurdum. The last time I looked, Xerox machines still had to be licensed by the government in the Soviet Union; in Bulgaria, even typewriters are closely con- trolled. Ideas are harder to license: Russian youngsters readily learn about jeans and hard rock, and scientists on both sides of the porous Curtain seem to know how far along their peers are in unraveling (for example) the puzzlements of rocketry and space travel. The good news is that information is leaky, that sharing is the natural

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72 HARLAN BLEED mode of scientific discovery and technological innovation. The new information environment seems bound to undermine the knowledge monopolies which totalitarian governments convert into monopolies of power. In the horoscope of the USSR and the Soviet bloc, a future looms where nobody is in charge. PRIVILEGE BASED ON EARLY ACCESS: EQUALITY OF ACCESS AND FAIRNESS The informatization of society may destabilize more than the Soviet bloc. It may help undermine the systems that keep 2 billion people in relative poverty and more than a third of them in absolute poverty. In many ways the most exciting, and puzzling, question about the new knowledge environment is whether it will be good news or bad news for the global fairness revolution and for that revolution's U.S. precinct, the upward mobility of women, minorities, and the poor. The most arresting trait of the information resource is that it is inherently more accessible than other resources and that, once accessed, it unlocks the other resources. What does that imply for access to the power and affluence that knowledge brings in its wake? Theoretically at least, compared to things-as-resource, information-as- resource should encourage: the spreading of benefits rather than the concentration of wealth (infor- mation can be more equitably shared than petroleum or gold or land or even water), and the maximization of choice rather than the suppression of diversity (the informed are harder to regiment than the uninformed). In the industrial era, poverty was explained and justified by shortages of things; there just were not enough minerals, food, fibers, and manufactures to go around. Looked at this way, the shortages were merely aggravated by the tendency of the poor to have babies. In the postindustrial era, the physical resources are joined at center stage by information, the resource that is harder for the rich and powerful to hoard. Each baby, poor or not, is born with a brain. The collective capacity of all the brains in each society to convert infor- mation into knowledge and wisdom is the measure of that society's potential. But whether the informatization of the globe will actually mean a fairer shake for those who have been the victims of discrimination depends mostly on what they do. Most of the fairness achieved in world history has not been the consequence of chanty, goodhearted- ness, and noblesse oblige on the part of those in power. Always in

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THE TWILIGHT OF HIE~RCHY 73 history, it seems, fairness has been granted, legislated, or seized when there was no alternative. And usually the reason there was no alternative was that those out of power were determined (or at least perceived by those in power to be determined) to cast off their shackles and take the law into their own hands. Societies flexible enough to adapt to the pressure from groups out of power (as the United States has been doing, not without conflict and coercion, on school integration, voter rights, sex discrimination, and equal employment opportunity) manage to keep change compar- atively peaceful. Societies that try to maintain rigid hierarchies (and especially those which, like the Shah's Iran, at the same time encourage education for most of their people) get blown out of the water. The Shah of Iran was brought down by the marriage of convenience between two groups who harbored powerful resentments: mullahs who had been bypassed and downgraded by modernization were angered by the lack of respect for tradition, and Iranian students, at home and abroad, were angered by lack of fairness. Afterwards the tradition defenders and the fairness advocates went after each other, and the fairness people lost. In other countries the mix is different, but part of the stew of resentments is always the complaint we learn from infancy to make: "It isn't fair." There will be less excuse in the future than in the past for depriving whole populations of the benefits of development. There will also be less excuse for the disadvantaged to blame their condition on the barons and bosses when the accessible knowledge to even the score is already floating out there in the noospher~the sphere of human consciousness and mental activity. The noosphere is an accessible resource that has many of the characteristics of a commons. In considering the implications for fairness of information-as-a-resource, it is an intriguingly fresh thought, worth a moment of speculation. In earlier times shading arrangements for a common resource were customary, for example in tribal ownership and nomadic practices. Vestiges of the idea survive in the Boston Commons, the National Park system, and in the way many major waterways in Europe and North America are managed. For people in old England the commons, as Ivan Illich defines it, was "that part of the environment which lay beyond their own thresholds and outside of their possessions, to which, however, they had recognized claims of usage [not to produce com- modities but to provide for the subsistence of their households]." The commons "was necessary for the community's survival, necessary for

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74 different groups In different ways, but was not perceived as scarce.''l5 HARLA~r C~VELAND in a strictly economic sense, The older commons, such as those for sheep and cattle, have disappeared through enclosure. But the commons idea has now been revived In a big way, as the basis for worldwide cooperation in the environments that by common consent belong to no one or everyone (which seems to be about the same thing): the deep ocean and its seabed, Antarctica, outer space and celestial bodies, and the weather. The Mediterranean Sea, the arena of bloody ancient feuds and lethal modern rivalnes, has recently been formally recognized by all the coastal states (including the Arab states and Israel) as so precious a shared commons that reversing its degradation must be a matter for cooperation even among sworn enemies. The resulting international agreement, intermediated by the UN Environment Programme, is self- enforcing: violating its terms would be in a literal sense self-defeating. For the management of an information commons, a shanug envi- ronment, these exotic precedents suddenly seem not so exotic. Illich, in a Tokyo speech called "Silence Is a Commons,'' argued that electronic devices (from the microphone to the computer) are a form of enclosure, reserving to the few the pnvilege of breaking the silence otherwise available to the many.'6 I do not know about silence; I have not had much experience with it. But on the computer as a form of enclosure, I demur. In its general impact the forced march of infor- mation technology, personal computers combined with global telecom- munications, seems to me to be taking us away from the idea of enclosure. My hunch is that the fusion of computers and communi- cations will further empower the many to participate in making policy in domains to which the few, with their moth-eaten monopolies of knowledge, will have to yield more and more access. Neighborhood organizations are furnishing themselves with personal computers to deal more effectively with the banks, developers, and government agencies that will otherwise make the neighborhoods' decisions for them. American Indian tribes might set up a computer teleconference to concert their political clout on fast-moving legislation. A single individual with a personal computer can even now get access to so much useful and timely information that she or he can, with a week's homework and without leaving home, intervene as an unusually knowledgeable citizen in almost any public policy issue on the national agenda. To chart these potentials is not to fulfill them. The trends in infonnation technology would make it possible to organize as a commons (with free though not necessarily costless access thereto)

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THE TIGHT OF HIE~CHY 75 most of the world's useful knowledge. That is not to say it will happen. It just helps remake the point that those who think "it isn't fair'' will have plenty of opportunity to get access to almost any information that is being withheld from them to their disadvantage. But they will have to want to work at it, they will have to prepare their brains for the task. In the information society as in its predecessors, there is still no free lunch. POLITICS BASED ON GEOGRAPHY: THE PASSING OF REMOTENESS I have argued the mind-blowing implications of the informatization of society for four of the old hierarchiesbased on control, secrecy, ownership, and structural unfairness. Let's look at what is happening to the fifth of the old hierarchies, those based on location. The inherited idea is that the political importance of communities is based on their geography. Cities usually developed because they were seaports or on critical inland waterways, or (earlier) on important overland caravan routes and (later) on important railway lines. It made a difference whether you were in the city or in the country; if you lived in a rural area, you were remote. There was no choice about it, you were just remote. The importance of countries was often based on the natural resources they had discovered, and developed, on their territory. The spices of the Orient, the rubber and tin of Southeast Asia, the coal and iron of Central Europe, the diamonds (and later, uraniums of South Africa, the fruit of Central America, the petroleum reserves of Indonesia and Mexico and Venezuela and North Africa and the Persian (or Arabian) Gulf and the North Sea, the soil that produced those "waving fields of grain" in North America these crucial resources left an indelible mark on the national sovereignties which happened to find them in their backyards. Then there was the sense of place in military strategy, summed up in the once-popular word geopolitics. This was the idea that a nation's power depended largely on its geography- how vulnerable its land mass, how defensible its frontiers, how rich its mineral deposits, how fertile its soil, how plentiful its water, how extensive its coastline. But communications satellites and fast computers are gradually erasing distance, eroding the idea that some places are world centers because they are near other places or near obsolescent natural resources or near old-fashioned means of transportation, while other areas are bound to be peripheral because they are remote from these centers.

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76 HARLAN CLEVELAND Octavio Paz, a poet, caught onto what was happening well before most of the systems analysts and political pundits. "We Mexicans," he wrote in the 1970s, "have always lived on the periphery of history. Now the center or nucleus of world society has disintegrated and everyone including the European and the North American is a peripheral being. We are living on the margin . . . because there is no longer any center.... World history has become everyone's task and our own labyrinth is the labyrinth of all mankind." The passing of remoteness is one of the great unheralded macrotrends of our extraordinary time. Once you can plug in through television to UN votes or to a bombing in Beirut or a Wimbledon final; once you can sit in Auckland, or Singapore, or Bahrein and play the New York stock markets in real time; once you can participate in rule, power, and authority according to the relevance of your opinion rather than the mileage to the decision-making venuethen the power centers are wherever the brightest people are using the latest information in the most creative ways. Distant farmsteads can, if they will, be connected to the central cortex of their commodity exchanges, their political authorities, their global markets. The fusion of rapid microprocessing and global tele- commurucations presents nearly all of us with a choice (and an obligation to choose) between relevance and remoteness. There will be costs and benefits to either choice but the necessity to choose is new, and inescapable. There is, of course, an alternative to geography as a principle of organization. The revised proposition was recently formulated by futurist Magda McHale: in the new knowledge environment, civilization will be built more around communities of people, and less around communities of placed That this trend is well advanced can be seen in a quick review of what is happening to the great geographic hierarchies which in this last couple of centuries have been dividing, and governing, the world. The state is not withering away, as with their different motives Karl Marx and the advocates of world government would have desired. But power is leaking out of sovereign national governments in three directions at once. The state is leaking at the top, as more international functions require the pooling of sovereignty in alliances, in a World Weather Watch, in geophysical research, in eradicating contagious diseases, in satellite communication, in facing up to global environ- mental nsks. The state is leaking sideways, as multinational co~pora- tions private, pseudo-private, and publicconduct more and more of the world's commerce, and operate across political frontiers so much better than committees of sovereign states seem able to do. The

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THP ~INCHT OF HIE~RCHY 77 state is also leaking from the bottom, as minorities, single-issue constituencies, special-purpose communities, and neighborhoods take control of their own destinies, legislating their own growth policies, their own population policies, their own environmental policies. And what has nation come to mean? Increasingly it means not a hierarchy of power but ethnicitythe Frenchness of Quebec, the tribal loyalties of the Ibo in Biafra, the separatism of the Scats, the rhetorical brotherhood of the Arabs, the world's many diasporas, ranging from the Overseas Chinese to the Zionist and non-Zionist Jews outside Israel. And organized religion? All of the great religious traditions have had to settle, so far in world history, for hegemony in one or another part of the world. But in a world of people-communities, not place- communities, the parish cannot be mostly geography-based. Now, even established religions are trying to break free from their national and regional parishes. The Roman Catholic pope's extensive travels and the terrorist outreach of Ayatollah Khomeini's Shiites forTn a grotesque correlation: both are breaking loose from historic geographic bounds to appeal to wider religiousand therefore politicalconstit- uencies. The prospect of people rather than place as a basis for community has interesting implications for universities trying to serve a local clientele, for corporations that have bet heavily on regional organiza- tion, and for political systems that have bet heavily on geography- based constituencies. It implies that those institutions which exploit the electronic answers to remoteness may be catching a wave in the twilight of hierarchy. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS In sum, the informatization of society will force dramatic changes in some long-standing hierarchic forms of social organization. The process of change, the slow accumulation of small changes in the way venous social functions are performed, is far harder to discern than the ultimate result. Information technology pervades our lives and institutions in the same way that termites inhabit a house. As unseen termites consume the structural supports of a building, so may information technology challenge the rules, norms, and conventions that, in an earlier time, served to organize society by vesting economic and social power in centralized leadership, secrecy, ownership, re- source control, and propitious geography. As with termite damage, we can be caught unawares at the collapse of those structures we thought sturdy, with the first visible sign of change serving also as

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78 HART CLEVELAND proof positive that it is too late for stop-gap solutions. Therefore, if we are to avoid catastrophe, or a least avoid fighting the last war, we must both broaden and lengthen our vision of the future. Information technologies will be assimilated without turmoil only if scholars recognize the need to rethink their disciplines in light of the erosion of societies based or material resources and industrial pro- duction. Citizens will have to get used to the responsibility that goes with the influence and power almost casually available to them through access to information. Generalist leaders will find themselves rethinking the nature of leadership. They more than others will have to widen their angle of vision to take in an informed and consulting public, and extend their focal length to take in the full implications of the twilight of hierarchy, not in the next 100 years but in their own life and work. We will need to change we are already changingthe negligent procedures that left the Bomb unconstrained by hard thinking about causes and effects. The informatization of society holds great promise, but will need to be housed in a new intellectual home. The termites are at work on the old one, and we had best not wait until we lean on its wall and it caves in without notice. NOTES 1. The statistics on the redistribution, between 1880 and 2000, of the U.S. work force were culled from the research of G. Molitor, Public Policy Forecasting, Inc., by Henry M. Boettinger, who headed AT&T's corporate planning before he joined E. F. Hutton as head of its Office of lnfonnaiion Strategy and Technology. "Information Industry Challenges to Management and Economics,'' New Jersey Bell Journal, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Spnog 1984), pp. 12-21. 2. The OECD report, Information Activities, Electronics and Telecommunications Technologies: Impact on Employment, Growth, and Trade (Paris: OECD, 1981), was one of a series of reports OECD has conducted as it tries to trace the impacts of the Information Age on, and its implications for, member countries. 3. G. Edward Schuh's comments were made in a note to the author. 4. P. Drucker, Managing in Turbulent Times (New York: Harper & Row, 1980). 5. The first report to the Club of Rome, which sold more than 3 million copies in many languages, is available in book form as The Limits to Growth, by Donella H. Meadows et al. (New York: Universe Books, 1972). John McHale's book, The Changing Information Environment (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1976; first published in the United Kingdom in 1972) covers the changes in communications, resource use, education, business and management, and political process that derive from the impact of inflation upon society. 6. Dieter Altenpohl discussed the role of materials development and their social, economic, and ecological impacts (thus illuminating the role that information plays in materials substitution) in his book Materials in World Perspective (Heidelberg, Gennany; Berlin: Spnnger-Verlag, 1980~. His chart relating the weight of materials to their degree of sophistication, can be found on p. 201. 7. In his book manuscript entitled "A Second Industrial Revolution?," Professor Colin Cherry of the University of London explained the ''sharing" nature of messages

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THE TWILIGHT OF HIERARCHY 79 while making clear that meaning is not necessarily or even usually shared. The discussion here is based on that manuscript and on talks with Professor Cherry about that draft in Aspen, Colorado, the summer before he died. 8. Lewis Branscomb, '`Infonnation: The Ultimate Frontier,'7 Science, January 12, 1979, pp. 143-147. 9. C. Cherry, "A Second Industrial Revolution?' (unpublished manuscript). 10. Comments about the obsolescence of both liberal and Marxist approaches are found in the influential examination of the effects of the new communication and computer technologies on society by Simon Nora and Alain Minc in L'informatisation de la Societe. Originally produced as a commissioned report from the two civil servants to President Giscard d'Estaing, it quickly became a best seller in France and influenced the thinking of Giscard's successor, President Franc~ois Mitterand. The book was eventually translated into English as The Computerization of Society (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1981), with an introduction by Daniel Bell. The English version of the title misses the point that Nora and Minc were making in their book- which is that the marriage of computer and telecommunication technologies is the new dimension of society. 11. Chester Barnard's theory of executive process is spelled out in The Functions of the Executive (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1938). 12. Paul Appleby, Policy and Administration (University, Ala.: University of Alabama Press, 1949), p. 21 13. Charles Lindblom's book, The Intelligence of Democracy (New York: Free Press, 1965), introduced the concept of '~mutual adjustment'' in the management of both public and private organizations and institutions. He updated his thoughts in a lecture at the University of Minnesota's Center for Strategic Management Research, "Incremental Strategy: Still Muddling Through,'' on May 13, 1983. 14. The comment by David Riesman comes from my extensive correspondence with him on the subject of openness in university governance. 15. Ivan Illich argued that computers are doing to communication what fences did to pastures, in 'Silence Is a Commons," The CoEvolution Quarterly, Winter 1983, pp. 5-9. 16. See note 15. 17. Magda Cordell McHale, `'The Feminist Model.'' Center for Integrative Studies, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1984. Comments ALEXANDER H. FLAX President Emeritus Institute for Defense Analyses Harlan Cleveland paper, as befits the subject of this symposium, is truly global in scope, not only geographically, but in its full sweep, in its contem- plation of human affairs, and in treating civilization as an integrated whole. Its insights into the nature of changes in society being wrought by the rapid pace of progress in information technology are profound and thought-provok- ~ng. It would be very difficult indeed to do justice to this paper in a brief discussion, but I think it would not be amiss to talc about a few things from