Use LO principles to design an Internet? LO11332

Vigdor Schreibman - FINS (
Mon, 9 Dec 1996 18:35:24 -0500 (EST)

Replying to LO11301 --

On Fri, 6 Dec 1996 Fran Alexander <> wrote

> Oh Ben, I love your inverted question.
> "Could we use the way the Internet is designed to build a Learning Org?"
> It started many comparisons in my mind.
> - Sites on the internet get used and grow because they offer value in an
> area of interest or need to a larger community. In a strong learning
> organization resources would gather around such issues naturally, with
> little effort. What structures and processes in organizations help support
> that type of emergence? What have people seen or experienced in this
> regard?


> - So the challenge of devising truly accessible systems seems huge.
> Vigdor and others...what are some powerful ideas out there about making
> this a deeply democratic experience? How?

I believe you have raised the crucial question at this time, Fran!

The only legitimate response must come from the collective inquiry of a
genuinely representative body of the people who are directly affected.
So my first response must be to recommend that we employ John Warfield,
and his Colleagues to convene a competently managed inquiry into the
design of a democratic Global Information Infrastructure (dGII).
Indeed, I have already proposed to Warfield and Christakis, our
collaboration in carrying out this initiative, which is now under
active consideration.

Three points should be raised concerning the merits of this initiative.
First, is the notion about progress offered by Russell Ackoff in
his book "The democratic corporation" (1994). Ackoff wrote:

Creative leaps are *discontinuities*, qualitative changes.
They involve three steps: identification of self-imposed
constraints (assumptions); removal of them; and exploring the
consequences of their removal. That is why there is always an
element of surprise when we are exposed to creative work--it
always embodies the denial of something we have taken for
granted, usually unconsciously. at 99.

Second, is the increasingly evident recognition that the "free
market" theory, long treasured by capitalist ideology, is no more
than a "broadly perpetrated fiction" constituting one of those
classic "self-imposed constraints," which Ackoff refers to.
The market system alone cannot and will not sustain the needs of a
strong democratic society because, by their fundamental nature,
markets disregard public goods such as democracy, social equity,
and ecological integrity.

The economist's model of "free market" theory is based on the
"entirely independent behavior of individuals." Nevertheless,
those values, which the market disregards are essential to the
well being of the people and survival of the biosphere of
Planet Earth. In short, market theory is a "broadly
perpetrated fiction," as American sociologist James Coleman,
concludes in his book, Foundations of Social Theory (1990).
Much the same conclusion, and the need for fundamental
reconsideration of this self-imposed ideology, has been
reached by an array of well respected authorities representing
a broad spectrum of political perspectives.

Barber, Benjamin R, Jihad vs. McWorld (1995)
Fallows, James, Breaking The News (1996).
Greider, William, Who will tell the people: Betrayal of American
Democracy (1992).
Herman, Edward S, and Chomsky, Noam, Manufacturing Consent: The
Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988).
Hirsch, Fred, The Social Limits to Growth (1976).
Lindblom, Charles E, Politics and Markets (1977).
Lodge, George, The American Disease (1984).
Ormerod, Paul, The Death of Economics (1995).
Phillips, Kevin P, Arrogant Capital (1994).
................., Boiling Point (1993).
................., The Politics of Rich and Poor (1990).
Postman, Neil, Technopoly (1993).
Thurow, Lester C, The Future of Capitalism (1996).
Schmookler, Andrew B, The Illusion of Choice (1993)

Third, is the compelling logic of a democratic Global Information
Infrastructure (dGII). This is my summary of the idea.

(Revised ed. Nov 1996)
By Vigdor Schreibman

A creative vision for the future must overcome self-imposed
assumptions based on capitalist "free market" fictions, which
maximize social inequities and threaten the survival of the
biosphere of Planet Earth.

To respond to the appalling existing situation, the people
must have a democratic Global Information Infrastructure
(dGII), which is publicly supported. In the United States
dGII can be funded out of the tens of billions of dollars
of annual appropriated funds now "thrown away" on information
technology to empower Government officials and unjustly
subsidize corporate welfare.

In addition to advancing economic prosperity through a
free market, dGII should have economically independent
channels governed by an authorized use policy (AUP),
which are dedicated to sustaining democratic government,
and the end-values of social equity and ecological
integrity. The AUP would require that authorized use of
the designated infrastructure should be limited to
services (public or private, for free or fee), which
enhance this mission.

Three virtual networks should be constructed, inter-
connected to one another, each furthering a designated
purpose and operating under an economically independent
Internet Model, with mutually reinforcing national goals.

GII Level 1. Public Sector - Public Funding
Assure that core Government publications are made available
in all useful formats for the free use of the general public

GII Level 2. Non-Profit Sector - Mixed Funding
Encourage and facilitate the pursuit of social equity and
ecological integrity through collaborative civic dialogue

GII Level 3. For-Profit Sector - Private Funding
Support economic prosperity through free market provision of
voice, data, and video telecommunications services

The people should support establishment of a dGII for the future, which
can sustain such enlightened goals. Criticism, amendment, and support of
this proposal is encouraged.


Vigdor Schreibman - FINS <>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>