Publication Date

7-1-1976

Approximate Date

1976-07-01

Report Number

4

Abstract

Computerized conferencing is a new form of communication which permits a group of individuals, who could be separated in time as well as space, to engage in an interactive dialogue with each other through the convenience of their computer terminals. The software for a computerized conferencing system is designed to keep track of all messages communicated in the system, as well as insure that the various protocols for communication are observed by all.

Our objectives in this report are to examine the communication processes found in the design and implementation of models, simulations and simulation-games, and to identify those areas where computerized conferencing, as a new form of communication, has the potential to impart a significant impact on the aforementioned disciplines. The theme which underlies this report is that computerized conferencing presents us with the capability to structure a communication process to satisfy a set of preformulated design objectives.

In Part I, we introduce the reader to some basic terminology used to identify models, simulations and simulation-games. Part II attempts to enumerate the potential impacts computerized conferencing is expected to have on the model building process. A key component of this section is the author's causal-loop "model of the modeling process" which seeks to capture the feedback relationships responsible for both the growth processes and limitations inherent in modeling, and the key role computerized conferencing is expected to play.

Our attention next turns to the area of simulation-games. In Part III, we define a simulation-game as a gestalt communication process, and reiterate many of Richard Duke's thoughts on the communication processes found in simulating-games. The next chapter examines the "marriage" of computerized conferencing and simulation-games, and identifies the numerous benefits to be achieved by this union. These benefits include not only logistic breakthroughs and the attainment of new degrees of verisimilitude to the object human interaction systems being modeled, but an opening up of the simulation-game as a research tool to gain theoretical insight into the sociological processes that take place in human interaction systems.

In Part V, we present to the reader summaries of those major efforts relating to conferencing based simulation-games. These include the work of Lincoln Bloomfield and his associates at MIT (the CONEX simulation-games), the Polis system of R. Noel at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the experiments conducted by the Institute for the Future with the CRISIS simulation-game.

In Part VI, we explicity prescribe some methodologies by which a simulation-game designer can structure the communication processes found in simulation-games to satisfy certain design objectives. We refer to this as a constrained computerized conference (i.e., dynamic constraints are imposed on the communication process). A mathematical model is developed for the communication that takes place in the simulation-game. Design applications are then discussed as specific extensions of the mathematical model.

The penultimate chapter presents a hypothetical language for describing the communication processes found in simulation-games and other group communication models. The language begins with the world view of SIMSCRIPT 11-5, acknowledged to be the most powerful discrete event simulation language, and builds in some powerful features designed to model and structure human communication processes. The language is illustrated with both a university fiscal crisis simulation-game and the SYNCON communication model.

The final chapter synthesizes the ideas expressed in the preceding chapters by an analogy of models, simulations and simulation-games with the conceptual foundations of the scientific method, and sees computerized conferencing as a key aspect in making "scientists" out of "systems scientists." It calls for a conferencing-based International Archives of models, simulations and simulation-games, both to aid in model scrutinization and confirmation as well as to provide a mutual pooling of resources from which users can "draw" as they please.

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