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Enhancement of Communications between Commonwealth Organizations using Computer-conferencing Techniques

Report prepared for the Science Adviser to the Commonwealth Secretary General
in partial fulfillment of a consultancy assignment under Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation
(CFTC/APL/13.3, CFTC/CSC/8, 19 May 1978)

Problems of international cross-sectoral operations
Context: the information explosion
Context: automation of information processing
Computer conferencing: what it is
Feasibility within a Commonwealth context
International computer conferencing by NGOs and IGOs
Computer-conferencing: operational facilities
Computer-conferencing: funding arid resource management
Organizations, meetings and reports: assumptions re-examined
Dynamic networking environment: an overview
Priority determination in a dynamic environment
Communication patterns and priorities
Communication content and type
Strategy options in a Commonwealth context: pilot projects
Nature of pilot project
Further action

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The purpose of this report is to identify how the technique known as computer conferencing could prove of considerable significance in faciliting the activities of a network of organizations and agencies :

  • whose offices are geographically dispersed in many different countries, as in the case of the Commonwealth
  • whose activities may be :

    • directly related, where a particular group of organizations has an ongoing long-term concern, as in the case of :
    • a Commonwealth professional organization and its members
    • a Commonwealth government agency and the associated natio nal government departments
    • a group of Commonwealth bodies collaborating on a crosssectoral long-term programme.

    • indirectly related, where from time to time it is appropriate to link together different groups of organizations in response to a short-term concern (as is desirable when different Commonwealth professional organizations or agencies share a preoccupation with some interdisciplinary or cross-sectoral problem).

The report also indicates how this question is related to that of facilitating interaction between different departments or offices of a large agency (such as the Commonwealth Secretariat) where such communication may be vital to maintain adequate operational momentur on a variety of issues whose degree of interconnectedness may only emerge after programmes have been initiated through the respective departments .

In identifying such relatively sophisticated computer applications, it is recognized that these may not be appropriate for some bodies in some countries either immediately or in the foreseeable future. Attention is therefore given to "intermediate communication interfaces" as a means of enabling less well-endowed bodies to benefit indirectly from such possibilities (whether because they are located in less developed countries or because their resources do not permit full access, even though they are located in industrialized countries).

In order to assist in obtaining an overview of this question, the following report is relatively brief but refers to annexes in which the arguments are developed in more detail.

The report commences with a review of the problems of interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral operations characteristic of Commonwealth activity in order to clarify the challenge to any innovation in communications in such a setting.

in order to clarify the challenge to any innovation in communications in such a setting.

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