Ithiel de Sola Pool

  • Talking Back

    Citizen Feedback and Cable Technology

    Ithiel de Sola Pool

    “We are flooded by a torrent of communication in contemporary society,” Pool writes, “and yet we hear everywhere that there is a breakdown in communication. The average citizen spends more than four hours a day with mass media, while increasingly he doubts that his government listens to him or that what it tells him is credible.... One situation that clearly reduces the citizen's sense of potency is that the flood of communication is one way. The citizen watches TV, reads newspapers, and listens to radio, but he has no way of talking back. He hears, but he is not heard. At least that is the way that he feels.”

    But now new communication technologies have appeared within our line of sight that may end the domination of mass media in communication, help close the gap of alienation, and resolve the crisis of confidence. These technologies, based on the computer, the videorecorder, and, especially, cable TV, promise to permit individualized communication to become economically competitive with mass communication.

    More than 10 percent of the television sets in the United States are now receiving via cable, and the number goes up by several million a year: we are entering a period when broadband channels into the home will be numerous and when two-way feedback will be possible. This book examines what two-way cable communication could mean—what services it might provide, how long and how much money it may take to provide them, and what technologies are available for the purpose.

    Six of the fifteen papers in the book were originally written as background papers for the Sloan Commission on Cable Communications. Others appear here for the first time. They range over the social sciences and the relevant engineering sciences and cover a variety of viewpoints, some directly opposed. And they examine the prospects of two-way communication in the arenas of politics, commerce, education, entertainment, and citizen feedback generally.

    The papers outline the options available for arriving at policies and standards in the development of a national communications system that would be technically and economically feasible – given the finite nature of available bandwidths and funds – as well as readily and equitably accessible to the largest number of groups. The first section of the book places cable TV in its multichanneled social context; the second section deals with the technology and economics of the system; the final section explores the possibilities of interactive two-way cable communication and the ways it can be used to encourage group dialogue and register social choice.

    • Hardcover $32.50
  • The Prestige Press

    A Comparative Study of Political Symbols

    Ithiel de Sola Pool

    This book compiles one of the major world attention surveys from the early period of content analysis. Originally produced by the RADIR Project at the Hoover Institution, The Prestige Press seeks to provide ways of measuring the ideological and social trends that constitute “the world revolution of our time.” As an exploratory work in the statistical tabulation and analysis of communication symbols, the significance of this study lies as much in its research methodology as in its substantive results.

    To measure the fluctuations of political concepts, Professor Pool and his colleagues traced the flow of symbols in newspaper editorials of the “prestige papers” in Britain, France, Germany, the Soviet Union, and the United States from 1890-1950. Counting editorials containing each of several hundred key symbols, the study documents some interesting trends in contemporary belief systems and related social phenomena—particularly those pertaining to democracy and authoritarianism, nationalism and internationalism, violence and peace, “self” and “other.”

    Some of these trends have become more evident today. For instance, Professor Pool in his introduction to this new edition notes an increased emphasis on symbols relating to mass participation in democracy; a growing focus on violence in American society; and a continuing trend toward nationalism in the Soviet Union. On the other hand, Pool's investigation found that the other countries studied are paying increased attention to the outside world.

    This early study exemplifies the research techniques developed in pre-computer days, but Pool indicates that they can be readily adapted to new procedures of quantitative analysis. Since the advent of computers has revived interest in content analysis, the book will prove useful in related applications in the fields of sociology, political science, and international relations.

    This is the eleventh volume in the M.I.T. Comparative Politics Series.

    • Hardcover $15.00
    • Paperback $6.95
  • Candidates, Issues, and Strategies, Revised Edition

    A Computer Simulation of the 1960 and 1964 Presidential Election

    Ithiel de Sola Pool, Robert P. Abelson, and Samuel Popkin

    A new social research technique, computer simulation, had its political debut during the Presidential campaign of 1960. The simulation, done for the Democratic Party, amounted to a new way of processing public opinion poll data. This book reports the work as it was actually done in 1960 as well as the changes in and refinements of the technique used in the Presidential election of 1964, and evaluates the successes of the simulations in predicting the outcomes of both elections.

    “Because of its novelty,” write the authors, “the Simulmatics project has been the subject of a number of sensationalized newspaper and magazine articles, even a work of fiction, Candidates, Issues, and Strategies endeavors to correct these lurid fantasies. There was no 'people machine'; nor were there superhuman manipulators pulling magic out of computes. Responsible people, not computers, ran the campaign. What was novel was the use of a research technique allowing more intelligent understanding of voter behavior”

    Commenting on this work in Book Week, Eric Larrabee wrote, “The authors pf Candidates, Issues, and Strategies are trying to recapture the good name of polling and prediction from... others who have made off with it and they are... remarkably successful. By removing some of the mystery from computer simulation they hope to restore it to its proper place....”

    While the book is for the political scientist, and for people concerned with computer simulation techniques, a great many readers will be drawn to its pages who are not specialists, but who want a realistic account of this historic use of the computer in the 1960 and 1964 Presidential campaigns.

    • Hardcover $8.95
    • Paperback $6.95
  • Candidates, Issues, and Strategies

    A Computer Simulation of the 1960 Presidential Election

    Ithiel de Sola Pool, Robert P. Abelson, and Samuel Popkin

    “A new social research technique, computer simulation, was put to its first political use during the Presidential campaign of 1960. The simulation, done for the Democratic Party, involved a novel technique for processing public opinion poll data. But the simulation, besides being a step forward in the automating of opinion research, was also a field test of some theories of opinion formation.

    “Because of its novelty the Simulmatics project has been the subject of a number of sensationalized newspaper and magazine articles and even of a work of fiction. The present report endeavors to correct these lurid fantasies. There was no 'people machine'; nor were there superhuman manipulators pulling magic out of computers. Responsible people, not computers, ran the campaign. What was novel was the use of a research technique allowing more intelligent understanding of voter behavior.

    “Pre-election polling with scientific sampling was first applied to a Presidential campaign in 1936. By 2960, scientific polling, which George Gallup had pioneered a quarter of a century earlier, had become part of the normal arsenal of every major candidate. It was by that time a conventional operation. Scores of national surveys were conducted every year sponsored by candidates, by the mass media, and by private interest groups. Polls were even being collected in a special library, The Roper Public Opinion Research Center in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where most of the national polling organizations deposit their old IBM cards. Polling had come of age.

    “In 1960 with the aid of the public opinion poll data thus being accumulated, and with the use of computers, a new research technique—simulation—came onto the scene. A description of its first and primitive political use in 2960 is the subject of this monograph. How soon and how fully this new instrument will become assimilated into the normal practice of scientists time alone will tell, but the limited experience of the first experiment already limns broadly a visage of the future.”-from Chapter 1

    • Hardcover $8.95