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(No.30) Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Our society consists of interpersonal communication, which is regarded as information flow. Each communication event between individuals is classified as receiving and sending. As modern society is often called the IT society, information plays a critical role. Some typical examples are the Internet or Web. How can we deal with this networked information? How can we share the energy between sending and receiving information?

The energy we can spare is called cost; money is a typical example. A better example is time cost. Everybody has 24 hours for each manageable cost per day.

Here are two persons A and B. B may receive information from A in the amount of a with the cost of ka, and A may receive the amount b with the cost of kb. The total amount of this time cost does not exceed the budget of K. We can assume that the cost is proportional to the amount of information with the coefficient D;

a numerical formula

This expression means that the total time cost to process information from A and B should be less than K.

It is well known that a new idea comes from the interaction between two different kinds of information. For this reason, we often discuss and consult in business or in managing an organization. Here we assume that new information R results from two sets of information a and b, with the coefficient C;

a numerical formula

Substituting equation (1) into the above, the following equation (2) is obtained;

a numerical formula

In the big parentheses of the last line of equation (2), the maximum value is a numerical formula, only if a numerical formula. We then reach the following consequence.

a numerical formula

As the combination of A and B is free of choice, the result obtained as equation (3) is quite general; it means that maximum interaction is expected when the cost of information receiving and sending are both equal.

In general, human behavior is based on the minimum cost principle. Based on this principle, how will people find their communication partner? Think about our own lives. We feel comfortable for the person who shares our philosophy, opinion or hobby. This means that people like to have a partner who is easy to understand. They can understand quickly and immediately respond to each other. Similar people tend to have a group. However, this does not mean that a person with another opinion will be expelled from the group. Humans open their window toward society for communication. To communicate is to get differing information from one's own group. A preferred partner will be within this window frame.

As communication plays a key role in business, Ricoh introduced a communicating space in the office as shown in the photo. This space has proved effective in improving communication among small departments in the office.

Community Plaza at R&D Center, Ricoh Co., Ltd.

Recently, strange social phenomena are reported among mass media. A young guy, to get public attention, commits a brutal crime after he was neglected in the network community. His intention was just to get attention to raise his information value. This story eloquently reveals that a non-contributor of information will be easily ousted from the community. This may be a negative aspect of the networked society.

(Ej, 2008.10)