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Coherent Policy-making Beyond the Information Barrier


Coherent Policy-making Beyond the Information Barrier
B. Questionable information strategy dependencies
C. Visibility and transparency
D. Challenge of coherence
E. Using unexplored advantages of networking technology
F. Governance through metaphor
G. Strategic alternatives for information
H. Conclusion

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A. Introduction

This paper responds directly to the fundamental, and urgent, policy dilemma of the role of networking technology in the immediate future and the concerns expressed about its effects on those with limited access. It assumes that both of the extreme scenarios that have been identified (viz. the reduction or increase in socio-economic gaps) will manifest to some degree over the next decade. Highly credible evidence for the preponderance of each will be available to those subscribing to, or opposing, either outcome. Contrary evidence will be discredited or denied by both. This corresponds to the evolution of the development situation over the past decade -- the condition of the few improves according to selected criteria and that of the many can be presented as static or declining dramatically. This has been exemplified in the debate over the crises and opportunities of globalization.

The paper is designed to contribute towards enabling policy-makers in developing countries and transitional economies to embrace a strategically realistic vision of the networking revolution that harnesses the opportunities and confronts the challenges of that revolution. It is therefore assumed that it is vital that the advantages of networking technology be adapted to enable policy-makers and their constituencies to navigate fruitfully in a sea of conflicting initiatives, perspectives and unforeseen challenges and opportunities. The paper indicates the kinds of knowledge-base facilities that can capture contextual insights in support of action-oriented dialogue under such circumstances, taking into account the conceptual richness associated with visual, aural and narrative presentations that offer strategic advantages to non-western cultures.

The paper argues that the challenge to policy-makers in developing countries and transitional economies is not one of more information but rather of surfeit of information with contradictory strategic implications. The networking revolution, as currently understood, promises to deliver even more information thus aggravating the problem to which it should supposedly provide some remedy. This dilemma is not resolved by producing more authoritative reports that will themselves be subject to their own challenges. The focus is therefore on how to adapt networking technology to facilitate the task of policy-makers and their constituencies in understanding and responding to the immediate challenges they face using new kinds of knowledge tools better adapted to their cultures and knowledge preferences. The approach is designed to elicit realistic low cost approaches relevant to the situation of those in developing countries.

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