Central media were defined in the book The IRG Solution - hierarchical incompetence and how to overcome it  and were those media which repeatedly broadcast a single identical message to many recipients such as mass media (newspapers, TV etc.) magazines and specialist technical and scientific journals. These Central media were contrasted to lateral media where many different, non-identical messages were passed laterally by individuals in an informal social network- such as gossip networks, grapevines and so on. The book claimed that the kinds of messages the central media could send and the size of its audience created unintended and undesirable consequences which would ultimately lead to environmental, food, energy, and water crises.
The book argued that on the one hand, mass circulation central media (newspapers, TV etc. - mass media) could only deal with very simplified concepts due to the need to create interesting, novel content for a very large number of people, thus requiring simplification and dumbing down. The need for novelty to attract readers tended to focus on generally ephemeral issues. The need for novelty prevented old, well established issues being repeated, thus they could not it was argue focus on handing on and building knowledge and experience particularly tacit knowledge.
On the other hand, low circulation specialist central media - such as scientific journals suffered from different intrinsic drawbacks. By definition they were only accessed by a low number of people and were opaque to outsiders and were forced to focus on the particular specialisation. Thus specialist central media tended not to deal with the integration of technology or cross border issues, leaving many unresolved conflicts to occur at the boundaries
Overall all it was argued, central media whilst essential to the functioning of modern society, could not alone, in general, transmit accumulated wisdom and tacit knowledge, nor deal or model the true complexity of the issues we face as a global society, whereas lateral media could and did.
This all led to a lack of broad understanding of all complicated issues at a societal level, and the inability of specialists sectors to cooperate, leading to disjointed and wasteful processes, and often counterproductive policies.
The book argued for the setting up of lateral media ( similar to what we would now call the Internet) which would in effect be technological amplifiers to existing informal later media (informal social networks) to promote lateral communications as a counter to the negative effects of central media.
- Delphi technique
- Hierarchical incompetence
- hierarchical organization
- Information Routing Group
- Interlock diagram
- Interlock research
- lateral communication
- Lateral diffusion
- lateral media
- Law of unintended consequences
- Social network service
- Relevance paradox
- Tacit knowledge
- The IRG Solution - hierarchical incompetence and how to overcome it
- The Wisdom of Crowds
- http://www.claverton-energy.com/?dl_id=360 The IRG Solution Chapter 10
- Andrews, D. (1986) "Information routing groups – Towards the global superbrain: or how to find out what you need to know rather than what you think you need to know", Journal of Information Technology, 1, 1, Feb, 22-35. details of lateral referral, diffusion*Andrews, David; The IRG Solution - Hierarchical Incompetence and how to overcome it. Souvenir Press, London, 1984. Pages 200 - 220. ISBN 0-285-62662-0. Detailed description of the proposal.
- Energy Research Group, Open University. Communication Within the Agriculture, Water, Waste and Energy Industries. Discussed examples of how the industries mentioned can be integrated to a greater or lesser degree, leading to lower pollution and energy use. Discussed the need for IRGs and how they might be organized. Emphasizes problem is lack of co-ordination and lateral communication between organisations. Describes interlock research in detail, the relevance paradox and the Bilharzia/schistosomiasis issue, central media, lateral diffusion, tacit knowledge, and Lateral Access Networks, later renamed Information Routing Groups, development of private languages as a barrier to inter communication, also describes how computers can be used to speed up lateral communication, and lateral referral . DC Andrews. ERG 033. Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, England 1980.
- Energy Research Group, Open University . Information Routing Groups. DC Andrews. ERG 037. Generalisation of ERG 033, advocated development of software and automatic phone answering modem to link up private PCs effectively creating an Internet. Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, England 1980. David Andrews
- "The Importance of Knowing the Right People" (Article based on ERG 033 on Lateral Access Networks - the forerunner of Information Routing Groups). Printed in the Guardian Newspaper, London March 20, 1980. Discussed Bilharzia / schistosomiasis relevance paradox.
- Graham, Taylor; The Hidden Manager, Communication technology and information networks in business organizations. Cambridge / Los Angeles,1986. David Andrews and John Kent. Much tighter description of IRG concept and its application to business management. ISBN 0-947568-15-8, 198 6
- Library Association Record to a seminar run jointly by IEE and the LA on 'Biblionic man', held at the IEE on 26 November 1980. Covered same ground as ERG 033 and ERG 037.
- Martin, Brian; "Beyond Mass Media", Science, Technology and Society, University of Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia. General discussion of the IRG concept
- Martin, Brian; The Power Of Open Participatory Media And Why Mass Media Must Be Abandoned. March 20, 2006. General discussion of the IRG concept
- Social Networks Meet News Aggregation And Filtering: Information Routing Groups
- Yewlett, J . L . Town Planning, Wales Institute of Science & Technology. "Networks: Developments in theory & practice".
The paper reviews developments in the USA & UK in recent years, progressing beyond network analysis to explore the structure & use of networks. The paper seeks to address questions of how to construct multi-actor policy structures, & build networks for particular purposes. Contributory concepts explored included the 'Reticulist', the 'Leader/Co- ordinator', the 'Segmented Polycephalous Network' & the 'Information Routing Group' in "CONNECTIONS", Sunbelt Social Network Conference, World Congress of Sociology, American Sociological Association, Volume IX, Nos. 2-3, Winter, 1986