John Lydus on a revolution in formal authority

Systematic decision-making requires supporting information technology.  In sixth-century Byzantium, a judicial bureaucrat complained that the new, leading financial bureaucrat: did not give the business that was being transacted to the proper overseers of the regions, called tractatores, namely, “regional governors,” or to accountants, to be filled in conformably to the established custom in order that … Continue reading John Lydus on a revolution in formal authority

micro-consituencies support global information sharing

Creating a new, common language for machine-readable information allows information to be shared across organizations with disparate information systems and information formats.  The Global Justice XML Data Model is a successful example of such a language.  Its success prompted the development of a similar, but broader initiative called the National Information Exchange Model.  Both models … Continue reading micro-consituencies support global information sharing

Bell System response to automatic telephony

Early in the year 1900, local authorities in Springfield, Massachusetts, held a hearing on Hampden Automatic Telephone Company’s application to provide automatic telephone service in Springfield.  The Bell System at that time provided operator-switched telephone service in Springfield.   The hearing produced an early battle of experts.  It also displayed general argumentative strategies quite common in … Continue reading Bell System response to automatic telephony

eternal bureaucratese

Common characteristics of bureaucratic texts: Abstract — Job titles indicating organizational position (major, manager) replace job titles associated with doing a specific job (scribe, librarian). Vague —  Contributions, superstatutory food-money, and “the usual” are used as names for taxes and bribes. Repetitive — Virtually identical documents newly appear over time. Prolix — A decree denouncing … Continue reading eternal bureaucratese

Applying Newton’s Third Law to human behavior: institutions have mass

Digital forms and ubiquitous networks are greatly increasing opportunities to circulate authored symbolic works. Digitization projects are creating huge online libraries of digitized books that persons around the world can access at zero incremental cost. Storage prices are dropping so rapidly that one small device will soon be able to store all the music that … Continue reading Applying Newton’s Third Law to human behavior: institutions have mass

the Internet brain

There is no Chief Executive Officer neuron in a brain. In brains, the most general decision-making processes (top of the executive hierarchy) and the broadest and most abstract representations (top of the perceptual hierarchy) are physically instantiated in the broadest networks of neurons. That’s rather different from the structure of a company in which the … Continue reading the Internet brain