Working Paper 99-99. June, 1992.
By Guy Burgess
Co-Director, Conflict Research Consortium
This paper was written with a small grant from the Conflict Resolution Consortium, University of Colorado. Funding for the Consortium and its Small Grants Program was provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The statements and ideas presented in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Conflict Resolution Consortium, the University of Colorado, or the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. For more information, contact the Conflict Resolution Consortium, Campus Box 327, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0327. Phone: (303) 492-1635, e-mail: email@example.com.
Copyright (C) 1992. Guy M. Burgess. Do not reprint without permission.
Funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the University of Colorado, the Conflict Resolution Consortium is a coordinated program of research, education and application on three of the University's four campuses. The program unites researchers, educators, and practitioners from many fields for the purposes of theory-building, testing, and application in the field of conflict resolution. Current focus areas include international conflict; environmental and natural resource conflict; urban, rural, and inter-jurisdictional conflicts; and the evaluation of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
The Conflict Resolution Consortium working paper series includes a variety of papers written by our members as a part of their research. Usually these papers are in preliminary draft stage and are being prepared for eventual publication in professional journals or books. Other papers record discussions from Conflict Resolution Consortium seminars and plenary presentations.
The purpose of the working paper series is to generate a dialogue about the work presented. Readers are encouraged to respond to the papers either by contacting the author directly or by contacting the Consortium office.
The computer industry is continuing to make rapid advances in both hardware and software. Each month, new computer hardware is developed which is able to store, transmit, process, and display more information. Software enhancements continue to make computers easier to use and capable of more complex tasks. As capabilities advance, prices continue to plummet, making powerful machines increasingly accessible. While many peace researchers now use computers for some research tasks (for instance word processing or data processing), computers can now be used for many additional functions. While some of these are unnecessary "bells and whistles," others are extremely valuable functions, which have the potential of revolutionizing the way peace research ers do their work.
The emerging generation of computers are not merely fast versions of yesterday's computers. Quantitative improvements have been so great that today's computers are qualitatively different from their predecessors. Innovations in computer technology applicable to social science research can be broken into four categories:
Increasingly powerful computers are making possible significant improvements in qualitative and quantitative analytical techniques.
Powerful word processors employing both characterbased and graphical interfaces (e.g. Macintosh/Windows), together with increasingly sophisticated proofreading and bibliographic manage ment programs, continue to make the writing and typesetting of manuscripts ever easier.
Rapidly advancing telecommunications technologies are making it possible (and affordable) to integrate the worldwide network of peace and change scholars into a single "virtual institute" in which geographic separation is no longer a meaningful barrier to collaborative work.
Data storage and retrieval technologies together with communi cations networks are also giving peace and change scholars an opportunity to enter an age in which they can have immediate access to almost any information they want!
The first two of these innovations have been dealt with extensively elsewhere. Therefore, the primary focus of this paper is the last two topics.
VIRTUAL INSTITUTES AND INFORMATION ACCESS FOR PEACE RESEARCH
Much of what is needed to construct a "virtual institute" and system of instant information access is already being put in place by computer hardware and software developers, university depart ments of computing and network services, and a relatively small core of peace and change scholars who are learning to exploit these new technologies. But these efforts are not enough. Computer technology will not significantly advance the field of peace research until a large fraction of researchers/scholars take an active role in 1) adapting available technologies to their specific needs, 2) contributing their knowledge in computeraccessible form to the field as a whole, and 3) using the information to improve the quality of their work.
The following pages outline an initial image of how these technolo gies might be developed for peace research. No doubt, future refinements can substantially improve these ideas. The key is to recognize the potential and start moving aggressively to exploit it. In some cases this essay highlights currently available capabilities; in other cases it suggests steps that could be taken to develop an even more powerful system in the future.
Because of the speed with which computer technology is advancing, any statements made in this paper are subject to change (usually for the better). The best advice is for persons interested in learning to use these services to contact the many sources of updated information suggested.
In order to keep readers, especially computer phobics, from becoming bogged down in technical details, most technical informa tion has been placed in footnotes or at the end of the paper. The reader's first task should be to understand, in general terms, what is available and how it might advance their work. Once readers decide what they want to do, then they can figure out how to do it. Fortunately, the availability of outside technical assistance can take most of the pain out of the process.
The "virtual institute" is a computer term which I use with some hesitation, but no plain language synonyms exists. The term refers to a computerbased communications network which makes it so easy for scholars to communicate and collaborate over long distances that the result is virtually the same as having everyone work at the same research institute at a single location.
Traditionally, peace and change research has been dominated by small research teams and, often, individual scholars working on extremely limited budgets. Many peace and change scholars do not want to be associated with creativitystifling, "big science" projects. Yet, the quality of our work would often be enhanced if scholars were able to pursue bigger projects. The ability to reach conclusions that are sufficiently welldocumented to convince skeptics is limited by: 1) the size of the "sample" upon which results are based, 2) the degree to which conclusions are replicat ed, 3) the ability to effectively incorporate past findings, 4) the integration of data from different cultural, geographical, political, and economic regions, and 5) the ability to incorporate contributions from many different disciplines. Most of these limits could be overcome by bigger, more collaborative projects, which are now much easier to pursue through computer networking.
At the core of any virtual institute are the field's many profes sional associations and frequent annual and international meetings. These activities have successfully established a core network of scholars, working in related fields, who know each other well and would welcome improved opportunities to collaborate. This dimension of personal understanding and trust is crucial. Fortunately, once it has been established, effective collaboration can proceed with much less facetoface contact provided that prompt and effective means of communication are available. This is where telecommunications technology can play such an important role. Long distance telephone connections, including conference calls, are now cheap enough that most of us can afford at least a few of them.
While telephone connections are necessary, they do not provide a sufficient basis for longdistance collaboration. To be effective a communications system must also be able to:
All information transfers must be quick, inexpensive, and hassle free. Traditional mail (which hackers call "snail mail") is slow enough and uncertain enough to insert prohibitive delays in the collaboration process. Overnight express mail is better, but it is extremely expensive, especially if a great many people are involved.
INTERNET, IGC/APC NETWORKS
Workable, though not perfect, solutions to many of these challenges are offered by two rapidly growing and increasingly sophisticated worldwide telecommunications networksthe Internet and the IGC/APC Networks. Internet is a complex web of highspeed telecommunications networks connecting the world's principal research institutions in government, academia, business, and elsewhere. Beyond this, Internet has gateways to almost all of the world's other major communications networks including Compuserve, MCI Mail IGC/APC Networks, and many others.
The Institute for Global Communications (IGC) and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) operates a parallel and complementary set of networks. The APC networks include IGC's three United States networks PeaceNet, ConflictNet, and EcoNet plus a large number of international networks including Alternix in Brazil, ComLink in Germany, FredsNaetet/PeaceNet in Sweden, GreenNet in Great Britain, Pegasus Networks/EarthNet in Australia, Web in Canada, Nicarao in Nicaragua, and GlasNet in the former Soviet Union.
Access to Internet tends to be limited to larger, more established institutions (e.g. universities, government agencies and private organizations with enough money to pay for a connection). If you're lucky enough to have access to Internet, however, and most scholars are, the big attraction for users is that it is usually free. You have to pay for access to the IGC/APC network though costs are surprisingly low. This makes IGC/APC accessible to in dividuals and smaller organizations which can't afford Internet.
Internet is an extraordinarily large and powerful system with an unbelievable array of features. But the system is designed for the scientific community as a whole, not simply for peace and change researchers. Thus many of its potential contributions to peace research have yet to be developed.
The IGC/APC networks, on the other hand, were developed specifical ly to support efforts to promote social change and foster peace. Starting with a strong base in the activist community (which is, surprisingly, far ahead of researchers at exploiting this new telecommunications technology), the network is now making an active effort to provide stronger support to the research community.
Internet is faster. A file can be transferred across the Atlantic in less time than it took an old PC to save it to a diskette. IGC/APC is limited by the speed of your modem 1200, 2400, or perhaps 9600 baud. This is plenty fast for short messages but a little expensive for long papers. Internet users can connect directly to the IGC/APC networks through Internet. Not only does this dramatically increase speeds, it also sharply lowers costs.
Thus, each network has its own special advantages. If possible I would recommend connecting to both of them. With Internet access IGC/APC should cost you about $120 per year. Without Internet the cost is somewhat higher and, because of speed limitations its capabilities are somewhat reduced.
Internet and IGC/APC users can exchange electronic mail messages with virtually anyone anywhere in the world who has an electronic mailbox. It is just as easy to send papers by electronic mail to large or small distribution lists composed of reviewers and other interested persons. Internet's speed and free access make it the preferred route for large files. It is still possible to do this on IGC/APC, but it can be expensive enough that users will probably want to limit their use of this feature.
Another interesting feature of electronic mail is that it is much less formal than regular letters. Messages are usually typed by the person who sends them, not a secretary. Typing errors are expected and rules of grammar and eloquence are relaxed. Even spell checks are usually omitted. The bottom line is simply to communicate ideas as quickly and efficiently as possible. This saves everybody a lot of time.
Electronic mail is also fast. It is common for message recipients to immediately type out their replies. Since messages can be sent by a single keystroke, it is common to receive a reply within a couple of hours, even on mail sent across the world! Another example of email's potential is the fact that students in different countries can use it to work on joint class projects.
The use of numerous short email messages often provides a workable strategy for holding a meeting when it is impossible to get everyone together either because of distance or busy schedules and meeting grid lock. A large number of people can, at times which each participant finds convenient, review a set of written agenda items and email back comments to everyone. Based upon these comments, members of the team can revise their proposals and email them out again for further comments. Email is so fast that consensus decisions can be developed in this way. Without it you either would have to have a meeting (or conference call) or spend a prohibitive amount of time circulating snail mail messages.
If email is not fast enough and your budget won't stand for international telephone calls, Internet has a free talk feature in which users on opposite sides of the world can "chat" by typing messages back and forth. For example, one user can type "Should we submit our plan to the President?" The recipient reads the message as it is typed and immediately types back a response, "No, I think we should go to Secretary General." In this way problems that used to take months to resolve through conventional mail can be dealt with in minutes and for much less than a phone call.
LISTSERVERS AND FILESERVERS
In addition to persontoperson electronic mail telecommunications systems allow users to post and read discussion papers and announcements dealing with an enormous array of topics. One way in which this is done is through Internet's fileservers and listservers. These are automated email handling systems which respond to messages requesting information on particular topics. Listservers (which include electronic journals) maintain a subscription list of people interested in particular topic and periodically collect and mail out information to everyone on the list. Information available can include papers and reader comments, news items, announcements, and virtually anything else of interest.
Fileservers, by contrast, periodically or in response to email requests distribute directories of information (not the information itself) that they have available. Users can then request and receive specific files by return email. (This prevents information overload, which is a problem with listservers.) Different systems can employ different editorial policies. Some pursue a comeone comeall policy that encourages the posting of preliminary work. Others follow a more traditional peer review journal format. Circulation can be open to the general public or restricted. Fileservers and listservers are accessible to anyone on any email system connected to Internet, including IGC/APC.
CONFERENCES AND NEWSGROUPS
The IGC/APC distributes this type of information through electronic Conferences (Internet has a similar mechanism which it calls Usenet Newsgroups). While there are several hundred of these conferences and newsgroups which might be of interest to peace and change scholars. Examples of topics covered include:
Conferences can either allow anyone to post discussion papers or responses, or they can be controlled by a moderator who screens all contributions for quality and appropriateness. Access to confer ences can also be restricted if participants are not yet ready to make their work public.
Users select conferences (or newsgroups) that they would like to "attend." When they log on to the system, they can ask the computer to show them any new (unread) items that have been posted since their last "visit." Subject to editorial approval by the conference moderator, users can also respond to conference items or post their own materials.
Conferences, listservers, and fileservers go beyond email by allowing information on particular topics to be exchanged between people with common interests who do not necessarily know each other. These systems also provide excellent mechanism for obtaining preliminary feedback and rapid distribution of working papers.
Both the Internet and the IGC/APC networks maintain extensive systems for finding email users. They do not, however, provide the detailed information needed to reliably build strong productive project teams among people who do not know each other. Still, contacts made through easier email communication allow people to easily expand their list of personal contacts. Eventual ly it might be appropriate for persons interested in organizing new, "bigger" science projects to issue an open call for partici pants through an appropriate conference or electronic journal. Interested persons could then respond with a semiformal applica tion including a vita and references. Smaller exploratory projects might be then undertaken which might ultimately lead to full scale collaboration.
CURRENT SYSTEM STATUS
At this point the coverage and quality of materials available is limited by the relatively low level of participation in these conferences by accomplished peace and change scholars. This is a social, rather than technological, limit which will quickly be overcome if people start taking advantage of these capabilities.
In addition to providing the communications needed to support the collaborative work of a virtual institute, electronic publication made possible by the computer revolution is now making instant access to information both technically feasible and affordable. I am not talking about small bits of information; I am talking about something which could be close to a field's entire body of knowledge! There are no technical reasons why scholars should not be able to 1) sit down at their computers, 2) call up a simple menu driven program, 3) type in what they want to know about, 4) immediately find out what's available, 5) identify an electronic publisher through which it can be immediately obtained, 6) immediately download the document(s) to one's own computer, 7) search the document electronically to find passages of immediate interest, and 8) print typesetquality paper copies to read in your favorite easy chair. While this system does not now exist, it is vastly closer to a reality then most people think. To become a reality, such a system of instant information access must contain the following components:
During the past several years, virtually anything that has been published has been written and typeset using computers. It is therefore a trivial task to enter these documents into a computer based information storage and retrieval system. As computer storage costs continue to plummet, the entry of large numbers of fulltext documents will become economically feasible (storage prices around $1 per book are realistic).
The bigger problem is the computerization of older, printed documents. Here, major advances in opticalcharacter recognition technology are making it easier and relatively inexpensive to convert these materials to computerreadable form. Still, the amount of literature that one might wish to computerize is enormous. A badly needed, and not terribly expensive project, would involve the prioritization and computerization of the field's core body of literature. This could be done through a systematic review of the large number of stateofthefield articles published in peer review journals over the years and perhaps supplemented with the advise of an editorial committee. Even without retroac tive entry of the classic literature, most of the field's key ideas will be available in machinereadable form in the nottoodistant future, because each new work builds off the literature that precedes it.
The knowledge base involves more than just articles and books. Significant benefits could also be obtained through the computer ization of qualitative and quantitative data, directories of research institutes and scholars, listings of funding opportuni ties, and information about ongoing policy decisions that could benefit from the field's expertise.
WILLINGNESS TO PUBLISH ELECTRONICALLY
The biggest obstacles to such electronic information storage and access are not technical but rather social and monetary. The social obstacle is cultural lag. It takes a while for society to take advantage of new opportunities once they appear and it will take a while for print publishers to learn how to publish electron ically. Still, publishers respond to market pressures, so if readers demand it then they'll do it.
Monetary problems arise because electronic publication directly competes with print publication. Since the publishers hold most of the copyrights, some effective mechanism must be found for protecting their profit margins before publishers can be expected to allow electronic access to their materials. Fortunately, computers are very good at accounting and Master Card, Visa and standing purchase orders make it easy to levy a copyright fees on electronically distributed materials. The piracy problem, while potentially severe, will probably not be appreciably worse than the problem of unauthorized photocopying. Since production costs for electronic distribution are vastly less than for printed materials, electronic copies should cost substantially less than their paper counterparts. While many commercial enterprises derive most of their operating revenues from publication sales, this revenue source is far less important for peace and change research, which is funded primarily by grants and faculty and student research time.
The bottom line is that the field of peace and change research must demand that journal and book publishers, as well as individual scholars, publish electronic versions of each manuscript.
Peace and change research is, by its very character, generated by a widely distributed community of scholars. Computerbased information will be of little value if it remains so widely scattered that it cannot realistically be located and retrieved by scholars and other interested persons. In order overcome these problems electronic publishers are needed. Not only must they be able to collect documents that are ready for publication, they must also be able to arrange advertizing and distribution.
Electronic publication is fast. Once one learns how to do it, one can easily "publish" a document in five to ten minutes. All you need to do is to upload the paper and perhaps a separate, short abstract page to an appropriate electronic publishing system for advertising. For comparison, this paper was completed in early June but will not appear until the October issue of Peace and Change.
It is relatively simple to include information about electronic publication options in direct mail and other printed advertise ments. But,the key to making a system of instant information access a reality is computersearchable bibliographic retrieval systems. Bibliographic citations with abstracts and index terms have long been compiled by the major abstracting services working in each academic discipline. These organizations have usually been quick to recognize the potential advantages of computer technology and have, with few exceptions, moved to make even more powerful computer versions of their information base available. Examples include the Sociological and Psychological Abstracts which are available online through information wholesalers like BRS and Dialog or on CDROM at many libraries. As powerful as they are, they tend to focus exclusively on specific disciplines, forcing true interdisciplinary scholars to consult a number of sources. They are also tend to neglect information which is not available through mainline sources. Another major source of bibliographic citations are library "card" catalog systems that have excellent coverage of books, but limited coverage of periodicals. It is now easy to log into a world wide network of these systems (see further information below).
Next, there are cooperative programs like the University of Colorado Conflict Resolution Consortium's Information Exchange which collects lists of references (and other information) that scholars working in the field have found to be valuable. This effort focuses upon an a number of interdisciplinary topics such as peace research, environmental dispute resolution, alternative dispute resolution (in the legal context), research methods, justice conflicts, and the peace research network. This effort is designed to do four things: 1) to cross disciplinary boundaries, 2) to include literature that may not be picked up by commercial services, 3) insert and index codes that are more appropriate for a particular field of study, and 4) limit the amount of information by including only that which contributors found to be of value.
Still, none of these systems is designed specifically to index electronically published documents. One way to find these documents is by consulting directories and indexes for the listservers, fileservers, electronic journals, conferences, and newsgroups discussed above. Perhaps the most powerful information search system uses Telnet, the protocol used to establish a high speed connection between two computers over Internet. Telnet allows Internet users to run virtually any other computer on the Internet system (provided that you have the proper passwords). This is how, for example, you use Internet to connect to the IGC networks. There are also a great many systems on Internet which allow anonymous access. In other words, they are free and you do not even need a password. These systems (which are discussed in more detail below) provide the best mechanism for finding electronically published information.
Initially electronic distribution simply involved an online ordering system connected to bibliographic search services. Next, fulltext documents dealing with popular (and, therefore, lucra tive) topics became available online. These include: encyclope dias, news articles, legal information (e.g. LEXUS), etc. Full text information storage and retrieval is only now becoming economically feasible for underfunded fields like peace and change research. As such, its coverage is still quite modest. Neverthe less, this can change dramatically in the next few years if researchers so desire and participate .
The key to such distribution is a companion to Telnet, the Internet File Transfer Protocol (FTP). Like Telenet, FTP allows users to log on to any computer on Internet network provided that they have the proper password. Also like Telnet, there are many FTP sites that offer an free, anonymous, public, login option. The purpose of FTP is to allow the downloading and uploading of large and small documents at unbelievable speeds. FTP can literally deliver a 100 page book across the country in seconds.
Traditional publishers are moving into the computer age with differing speeds and effectiveness and new organizations are being created to fill the many gaps that exist. Centers of activity include research centers like the Conflict Resolution Consortium which are making their working papers available by electronic mail and anonymous FTP. Their electronic publication efforts are handled by Communications for Sustainable Future which electroni cally publishes information on a variety of peace and change topics from a variety of sources (see below). Their information is available through anonymous FTP as well as a fileserver. Another major electronic publisher is the IGC/APC network which offers computer searchable databases in addition to its conferences.
The following examples illustrate the capabilities of Internet's newer Telnet and FTP systems which are slowly replacing the older email based fileserver and listserver systems.
ARCHIE is an excellent place to start and a source of basic information on Internet, its capabilities and uses. It also contains a computer searchable database of a large fraction of the electronically published documents available on Internet along with the information needed to obtain them. (This includes a listing of anonymous FTP sites.) This is perhaps the closest thing that there is to an Internet Books in Print. Also of interest is an excellent book, Zen and the Art of the Internet by Brendan P. Kehoe. This beginners guide to Internet, which has been used extensively in preparing this essay, is available by FTP transfer.
PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE LIBRARY CATALOGUES provide easy to use gateways for free access to hundreds of library "card" catalog systems worldwide, including libraries in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, Israel, Finland, West Germany, and the United States. The U.S. libraries include Harvard, Yale, the University of California system, the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries, and many others.
WHITE PAGES provides a directory of email addresses.
MARYLAND INFO DATABASE is available by Telnet and FTP and provides immediate access to a broad range of information including the United States economic statistics and the U.S. Census data.
COMMUNICATIONS FOR SUSTAINABLE FUTURE is a file server and anonymous FTP area operating out of the University of Colorado listing a variety of documents related to peace and change.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY INFORMATION SYSTEM provides access to many National Science Foundation publications.
ASSOCIATION OF RESEARCH LIBRARIES maintains a list of electronic journals, newsletters, and scholarly discussion lists along with information on how to access each publication.
CLARINET provides access to UPI wireservice news in the Usenet Newsgroup format. (Many Universities already subscribe to this service.)
INTERNET RESOURCE GUIDE is compiled by the NSF Network Service Center.
IGC/APC NETWORKS are, as mentioned above, connected to Internet.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The only way to really find out what is available and how best to post your contributions is to use the system and see what you can make it do.
COMPUTER PHOBIA AND THE DIVISION OF LABOR These systems are not as user friendly as they could be. They are certainly more difficult to decipher than the current generation of PC and Macintosh software. Still, a remarkably small number of commands are needed to perform all of the tasks discussed above. There are fewer commands to learn than are needed to run a word processor, for example. People wanting further help in understand ing how Internet works can contact their own institution's computing and network services department which most probably can help. Information on IGC/APC, can be obtained by contacting the Institute for Global Communication, 18 De Boom Street, San Francisco, CA, 94107, (415)4420220. Learning how to access and use these networks for sending and receiving email and publishing and retrieving documents is not difficult, if help is obtained. While there is not a great risk that you will contract a computer virus from any of the above services, it is still prudent to periodically use one of the many inexpensive virus scanning programs available.
One strategy we have found successful in helping overcome the reluctance of many peace and change scholars to use these new technologies is to establish, within a university or other institution, an office, perhaps staffed by one of the new genera tion of computerliterate graduate students, to handle computer based networking activities for all university peace and change scholars. They could be responsible for setting up computer equipment, network connections, and accounts; helping people send and receive email messages; identifying sources of information in response to specific requests; downloading and distributing information; and uploading institutional contributions to the overall knowledge base. 
At this point, peace and change scholars, as well as the field's major journals and book publishers, need learn more about the potentials of this system and then begin working to reach these potentials. To do this, scholars and publishers should begin publishing electronically, if they are not already doing so. All it takes is a modest investment (for computer hardware, software, and an Internet linkmuch of which many researchers already have), and a mechanism for collecting royalties. As information storage and retrieval costs continue to plummet, and as users and contribu tors to this kind publication expand, the whole effort should gain considerable momentum. The more people recognize the value of the system and the more it is used, the more valuable it will become. Eventually, most information in the peace research field could become instantly accessible to researchers worldwide, and world wide collaboration could become routine. While not eliminating world conflict, such advances could significantly improve the quantity and quality of peace research and make the impacts of that research significantly greater as well.