Information in the Policy Process

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Recommended Citation

"Information in the Policy Process", Global Problem Solving, December 10, 1999, https://nautilus.org/global-problem-solving/information-in-the-policy-process/

Information in the Policy Process

The assumption that we live in an “information age” has become an axiom of our times. Growing global electronic interconnectivity is widely believed to be fundamentally reshaping the way most people live their lives. New social and organizational structures are emerging solely to interpret, organize, and manage information. Many perceive that the control of global flows of resources and ideas is becoming an increasingly key determinant of state power. Indeed, the accelerating pace of development of media technologies may be transforming the nature and value of information itself.

Unfortunately, the velocity of change in information technologies is far outpacing our understanding of their impacts on relationships among individuals, societies, and states. In particular, attempts to specify and measure the effect of transformations in information technology on political interaction and policy-making processes have to date been vague and inchoate. The nascent research agenda forming within academia has yet to address questions of practical relevance to the governmental and non-governmental organizations whose stakes in these issues are greatest.

Some of the key questions alluding rigorous analysis include:

 

  • Does the massive volume of information available to government policymakers help or hinder the decision-making process?
  • How has the emergence of new information technologies affected state power capacities, and our understandings of these capacities?
  • What is the impact of changing media technologies on the ability of NGOs to influence government foreign policy decision-making processes?

 

The Nautilus Institute is beginning the process of understanding these challenges with the Information in the Policy Process project. The project, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, examines the changing relationship between advancing information technologies and political discourse in the foreign policymaking arena. The principal goal of the project is to develop a set of realistic long-term proposals for enhancing the effectiveness of governmental and non-governmental organizations in the “information age.” Specifically, the project has three components:

  • Information Axioms will develop a series of “axioms” to serve as a starting point in understanding the role of information and information technologies in the policy process.
  • The Internet and International Systems: Information Technology and American Foreign Policy Decisionmaking Workshop will convene an international assembly of key academic, government, NGO, and private sector representatives to begin examining the changing relationship between advancing information technologies and political discourse in the foreign policymaking arena.
  • Lastly, we have commissioned a series of papers analyzing the impact of information technology on US foreign policy decision-making processes. The contributors to this series of papers will attend the December workshop to present and discuss their findings.

 

The Internet and International Systems: Information Technology and American Foreign Policy Decision-making Workshop

Nautilus Institute, San Francisco, December 10, 1999

In the past several years, the World Wide Web has profoundly altered our ability to obtain and utilize information, data, and knowledge. Unfortunately, the velocity of change in information technologies is far outpacing our understanding of their impacts on relationships among individuals, societies, and states. In particular, attempts to understand the impacts these technologies have on political interaction and policy-making processes have to-date fallen short.

The Internet and International Systems: Information Technology and American Foreign Policy Decisionmaking Workshop will convene an international assembly of key academic, government, NGO, and private sector representatives to begin examining the changing relationship between advancing information technologies and political discourse in the foreign policymaking arena.

At the heart of the workshop is a series of commissioned papers analyzing the impact of information technology on US foreign policy decision-making processes. The contributors to this series of papers will attend the December workshop to present and discuss their findings (please see authors list).

The workshop is co-hosted by the Nautilus Institute and the World Affairs Council of Northern California.


AGENDA830-900 Registration

900-915 Welcome and Introduction to the Issues

Opening Remarks and Introduction – Jane Wales, World Affairs Council

Introduction and Overview – Jason Hunter, Nautilus Institute

915-1045 The Internet and International Systems

      Chair: Peter Hayes, Nautilus Institute

Presentations 915-945 (10 min/each)

        • Ronald Deibert, University of Toronto
        • Anthony Judge, Union of International Associations
        • Saskia Sassen, University of Chicago

Respondents 945-1000

      • Jane Wales, World Affairs Council
      • William Drake, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Panel Discussion 1000-1030

Audience Questions 1030-1045

1045-1100 Break

1100-1200 Information Technology and Organizational Form

      Chair: Peter Hayes, Nautilus Institute

Presentations 1100-1130 (10 min/each)

      • Steven Weber, UC Berkeley
      • Shalom Flank, Global Works
      • Thomas Graham, Second Chance Foundation

Respondent 1130- 1145

        • Eileen Vergino, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Panel Discussion 1145-1215

Audience Questions 1215-1230

1230-130 Lunch

130-300 NGOs in the Information Age

      Chair: Jane Wales, World Affairs Council

Presentations 130-200 (10 min/each)

      • Ken Rutherford, Georgetown University
      • Peter Hayes, Nautilus Institute
      • Dorothy Denning, Georgetown University

Respondents 200-215

      • Joel Wit, Brookings Institution
      • Leon Sigal (Via Video-teleconference), Columbia University/SSRC
      • Mindy Kotler, Japan Information Access Project

Panel Discussion 215-245

Audience Questions 245-300

300-315 Break

315-500 Discussion: where do we go from here?

      Chair: Lyuba Zarsky, Nautilus Institute
  • Introduction to Information Axioms – Jason Hunter, Nautilus Institute

Panel Discussion 330-500

Synthesis, panelists’ final thoughts, areas of future study.


Authors / Conference Contributors

Philip Agre
UCLA
Associate Professor
Department of Information Studies
Philip E. Agre is an associate professor of information studies at UCLA. He received his PhD in computer science from MIT in 1989, having conducted dissertation research in the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory on computational models of improvised activities. He taught at the University of Chicago, the University of Sussex, and UC San Diego before arriving at UCLA in 1998. He is the author of Computation and Human Experience (Cambridge University Press, 1997), and the coeditor of Technology and Privacy: The New Landscape (with Marc Rotenberg, MIT Press, 1997), Reinventing Technology, Rediscovering Community: Critical Studies in Computing as a Social Practice(with Douglas Schuler, Ablex, 1997), and Computational Theories of Interaction and Agency (with Stanley J. Rosenschein, MIT Press, 1996). In addition, he edits an Internet mailing list called the Red Rock Eater News Service that distributes useful information on the social and political aspects of networking and computing to 4000 people in 60 countries.
  • Personal Homepage
  • UCLA Department of Information Studies

     

Ronald Deibert
University of Toronto
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
Ronald J. Deibert is assistant professor of politics at the University of Toronto, specializing in technology, media, and world politics. He is the author ofParchment, Printing, and Hypermedia: Communication in World Order Transformation (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997). He is presently finishing a book manuscript on security and the Internet, and is engaged in research on virtual reality as postmodern religion. He received his PhD in political science from the University of British Columbia, Canada, in 1995.
  • Personal Homepage
  • University of Toronto, Department of Political Science

     

Dorothy Denning
Georgetown University
Professor
Department of Computer Science
Dorothy E. Denning is professor of Computer Science and professor and member of the advisory board of the Communication, Culture and Technology program at Georgetown. Her current work encompasses the areas of information warfare and assurance, encryption policy and technology, and the impact of technology on law enforcement and society.
Dr. Denning is author of Information Warfare and Security (Addison Wesley, 1999),Cryptography and Data Security (Addison Wesley, 1982) and over 100 articles. She is co-editor of Internet Besieged: Countering Cyberspace Scofflaws (Addison Wesley, 1998). She has testified before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on encryption, is a frequent lecturer at conferences and symposia, and has appeared on TV and radio programs in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, and Sweden. She is an ACM Fellow and recipient of the Distinguished Lecture in Computer Security Award. Denning received the A.B. and A.M. degrees in mathematics from the University of Michigan and the Ph.D. degree in computer science from Purdue University.
  • Personal Homepage
  • Georgetown University, Department of Computer Science

     

Shalom Flank
Global Works
Principal
Shalom Flank, Ph.D. is a principal at Global Works, a consulting firm to information technology companies and start-ups for strategy, partnerships & alliances, and commercialization. Dr. Flank was most recently program manager at ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency), where he managed the investment of over $60M in advanced information technology. He was also visiting scientist at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, has served on the staff of Livermore Lab, Stanford University, and the U.S. House of Representatives, and has had appointments at Harvard and MIT.

 

Peter Hayes
Nautilus Institute
Co-Director
Peter Hayes is Co-Executive Director of the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development, a non-governmental policy-oriented research and advocacy group. Peter graduated with degree in History from the University of Melbourne. He has a doctorate from the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California at Berkeley.
Professionally active as an environment and energy consultant in developing countries (working for United Nations Environment Programme, Asian Development Bank, World Bank, Canadian International Development Research Council, US Agency for International Development, United Nations Development Programme), he also writes widely about security affairs in the Asian-Pacific region. He was first executive director of the Environment Liaison Centre in Nairobi, Kenya in 1974-76. He was Deputy Director of the Commission for the Future (Australian Government) from 1989-1991. He has visited the DPRK six times.
He is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, the Western partner of the Council on Foreign Relations; and the US Committee of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific.
  • Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development

     

Anthony Judge
Union of International Associations
Director, Communications and Research
  • Union of International Associations
Ken Rutherford
Georgetown University
Department of Government
Ken Rutherford is Co-Founder of the Landmine Survivors Network and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Government at Georgetown. His dissertation is a study on the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the post-Cold War international order, using the case banning land mines as its specific focus. He also holds an adjunct teaching position in the School of International Service at American University (Washington, D.C.). He has worked in Africa for the Peace Corps (Mauritania), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (Senegal), and International Rescue Committee (Kenya and Somalia). He has also worked as a landmine consultant in Bosnia for the United States Agency for International Development in 1997 and the United States Department of Defense – Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict in 1998, and for the United States Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance as a mine awareness trainer for American NGOs conducting complex emergency operations. He has published a chapter in To Walk Without Fear: The Global Movement to Ban Landmines (Oxford University Press, 1998) and numerous articles on landmines, including the International Journal of World Peace and Nonproliferation Review.
  • Landmine Survivors Network
  • Georgetown University, Department of Government
Saskia Sassen
University of Chicago
Professor
Department of Sociology
Saskia Sassen is Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago.Her books include, Guests and Aliens (New York: New Press 1999); Globalization and its Discontents (New York: New Press 1998); Losing Control? Sovereignty in an Age of Globalization (New York: Columbia University Press 1996); Cities in a World Economy (California: Pine Forge/Sage, 1994; now in its fifth printing); The Global City: New York London Tokyo (Princeton University Press, 1991; currently, seventh printing); The Mobility of Labor and Capital (Cambridge University Press, 1988; currently, fourth printing). Her books have been translated into several languages. She is completing her project on “Governance and Accountability in the Global Economy” and has begun a new project on “Cities and their Crossborder Networks.” She is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.
  • University of Chicago, Department of Sociology

     

Timothy L. Savage
Nautilus Institute
Security Program Assistant
Tim Savage is the Security Program Assistant at the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development, with primary responsibility for producing the Daily Report of the Northeast Asia Peace and Security Network (NAPSNet). Tim received an M.A. degree in History at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (1994) and a B.A. in History at the University of Chicago (1990). He was a Degree Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu (1992-1994), and served as a Research Fellow at the Academy of Korean Sciences in Songnam, ROK (1994-1996).
Tim’s publications include “The Agreed Framework at the Crossroads,” (in Sekai #660, April 4, 1999, with Wade Huntley); and “American Response to the Korean Independence Movement: 1910-1945” in the University of Hawaii Journal of Korean Studies 20 (1996). He also contributed to the forthcoming Historical Dictionary of US-East Asian Relations. He has studied Korean language at the University of Hawaii, Seoul National University, and Yonsei University.
  • Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development

     

 

Steven Weber
University of California at Berkeley
Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
Steven Weber is an associate professor in the department of political science at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also chair of the Center for Western European Studies and an affiliated professor of the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley. His areas of special interest include international political economy, United States foreign policy, the political economy of European integration, and theories of cooperation.
His publications include “Origins of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development” (1994) and “Shaping the Postwar Balance of Power” (1992), both published in International Organization, and Cooperation and Discord in US-Soviet Arms Control (Princeton 1991).
Steven received a B.A. in history and international development from Washington University in St. Louis. After several years of medical school training at Stanford University, he moved to the political science department at Stanford, where he received an M.A. and Ph.D. He has held academic fellowships with several institutions, including the Council on Foreign Relations and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. During 1992, he served as special consultant to the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London. Steven is also a consultant for the Global Business Network.
  • University of California Berkeley, Department of Political Science

     

 

 

 


 

Commissioned Papers

Philip Agre
UCLA
The Dynamics of Policy in a Networked World
Ronald Deibert
University of Toronto
Integrated Security: The Protection of Planetary Networks
Dorothy Denning
Georgetown University
Information Warfare, Hactivism, and the New Politics of Information
Shalom Flank
Global Works
Information in the Intelligence Community
Peter Hayes, Wade Huntley,Timothy Savage, Gee Gee Wong
Nautilus Institute
The Impact of the Northeast Asian Peace and Security Network in US-DPRK Conflict Resolution (and appendices)
Anthony Judge
Union of International Associations
Coherent Policy-Making Beyond the Information Barrier
Ken Rutherford
Georgetown University
The Landmine Ban and NGOs: the Role of Communications Technologies
Saskia Sassen
University of Chicago
The Impact of the Internet on Sovereignty: Real and Unfounded Worries
Steven Weber
University of California at Berkeley
Organizing Principles for Institutions in the Information Age

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