But to communicate is more than to send and to receive. Do two tape recorders communicate when they play to each other and record from each other? Not really-not in our sense. We believe that communicators have to do something nontrivial with the information they send and receive. And we believe that we are entering a technological age in which we will be able to interact with the richness of living information—not merely in the passive way that we have become accustomed to using books and libraries, but as active participants in an ongoing process, bringing something to it through our interaction with it, and not simply receiving something from it by our connection to it.
Society rightly distrusts the modeling done by a single mind. Society demands consensus, agreement, at least majority. Fundamentally, this amounts to the requirement that individual models be compared and brought into some degree of accord. The requirement is for communication, which we now define concisely as “cooperative modeling” —cooperation in the construction, maintenance, and use of a model.
Many of the primary data the participants bring to the meeting are in undigested and uncorrelated form. To each participant, his own collections of data are interesting and important in and of themselves. And they are more than files of facts and recurring reports. They are strongly influenced by insight, subjective feelings, and educated guesses. Thus, each individual’s data are reflected in his mental model. Getting his colleagues to incorporate his data into their models is the essence of the communications task.