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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

For more information about the Nautilus Institute and its programs, please visit our web site: http://www.nautilus.org. For more information about the Information in the Policy Process Project, please contact Jason Hunter.

info axioms