Central media

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Central media were defined in the book The IRG Solution - hierarchical incompetence and how to overcome it [1] 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.

Mass Media[edit]

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.

Specialist journals[edit]

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.claverton-energy.com/?dl_id=360 The IRG Solution Chapter 10

Further reading[edit]

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