Sociology Index


After "Technocracy," "technetronic society," and "computopia"? the effects of the information revolution on business and government gives cyberocracy. This term cyberocracy is from the roots "cyber-" and "-cracy," rule through information and technology.

Cyberocracy implies that information and its control will be elevated to a key principle. Cyberocracy will include new forms of democratic, totalitarian, and hybrid governments. Cyberocracy could also mean a bureaucracy changed by information technology. Cyberocracy may also just be a symbolic and cultural name given to bureaucracy. Cyberocracy may also be defined as a form of organization that adds to traditional forms of bureaucracy and technocracy.

As cyberocracy develops, information and its control will become a dominant source of power, as a natural next step in man's political evolution. In the past, under aristocracy, the high-born ruled; under theocracy, the high priests ruled. In modern times, democracy and bureaucracy have enabled new kinds of people to participate in government. In turn, cyberocracy, by arising from the current revolution in information and communications technologies, may slowly but radically affect who rules, how, and why.

The first cyberocracies may appear as overlays on established bureaucratic forms of organization and behavior, just as the new post- industrial aspects of society overlay the still necessary industrial and agricultural aspects. Yet such an overlay may well begin to alter the structure and functioning of a system as a whole. Just as we now speak of the information society as an aspect of post-industrial society, we may someday speak of cyberocracy as an aspect of the post-bureaucratic state. -  - CYBEROCRACY IS COMING - David Ronfeldt - 1992 Taylor & Francis.

Although the shape of a full-fledged cyberocracy remains obscure, it should spell major changes in the nature and conduct of government. It should not mean that a nation's intelligence services, think-tanks, media, or other sources of informational power dominate government, although the information revolution has increased their visibility and importance.

Cyberocracy is the new term here. Terms with "cyber-" as the prefix--e.g., cyberspace--are currently in vogue among some visionaries and technologists who are seeking names for new concepts and realities related to the information revolution. The prefix is from a Greek root, kybernan, meaning to steer or govern, and a related word, kybernetes, meaning pilot, governor, or helmsman. The prefix was introduced by Norbert Wiener in the 1940s in his works creating the field of "cybernetics" (a term related to cybernetique, a French word meaning the art of government). Some readers may object to my addition to the lexicon, but I prefer it to alternatives like the "informatization" of government and the "informated" bureaucracy. In my view, a good case exists for using the "cyber-" prefix, for it bridges the concepts of information and governance better than any other available prefix or term. Indeed, kybernan is also the root of the word "govern" and its extensions. - David Ronfeldt.

Wriston, who has been praised for building Citibank into "the one institution that understands that finance no longer has to do with money but with information," says that new terms and concepts are needed.

Tom Forester (ed), The Micro Electronics Revolution: The Complete Guide to the New Technology and Its Impact on Society, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1980;
Tom Forester (ed.), The Information Technology Revolution, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1985;
Tom Forester (ed.), Computers in the Human Context: Information Technology, Productivity, and People, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1989.

David Ronfeldt, Cyberocracy, Cyberspace, and Cyberology: Political Effects of the Information Revolution, P-7745, RAND, Santa Monica, 1991.

Cyberocracy. The differences between a bureaucracy of the 20th century and a cyberocracy of the information age highlight the importance of organizational adaptation. Whereas bureaucracy forces and often limits information flow through defined channels connecting discrete points, cyberocracy broadcasts large volumes of information among many interested parties. Whereas bureaucracy emphasizes the hard quantitative skills of programming and budgeting (like DoD's Planning, Programming, Budgeting and Execution System), cyberocracy emphasizes soft skills such as policy management and understanding culture and public opinion. Whereas bureaucracy observes traditional boundaries between public and private sectors, cyberocracy breaks across these boundaries and allows for mixing of public and private interests. Bureaucracies must transform into cyberocracies if the new techniques of the information age are to take hold. - Sun Tzu Art of War in Information Warfare. KNOWLEDGE STRATEGIES: BALANCING ENDS, WAYS, AND MEANS IN THE INFORMATION AGE by Lieutenant Colonel William R. Fast, US Army

"We will evolve into a Cyberocracy. Into the great machine - a neural net of distributed nodes with vast processing power - will be fed yet more statistics, economic trends, monitored results, demographic details, information culled from our ID cards, spending patterns and ubiquitous CCTV cameras, audits by the Audit Office, and feedback from consultations, not forgetting the results of the all-important opinion polls, themselves conducted by text and email. Out will come further policies, spending programmes and legislation." - David Savvides on Cyberocracy

Cyberocracy, cyberspace, and cyberology: political effects of the information revolution - By David Ronfeldt 
This paper considers how the information and communications technology revolution may affect politics and government in the future. Besides reviewing the effects that the information revolution is having on business and government, the author examines ways the modern bureaucratic state may give way to the "cybercratic state"--one where information is a key organizing principle--early in the twenty-first century. He recommends the creation of a new field of study around the concept of information, and suggests areas for future research. RAND Research.

Cyberocracy is coming - By: David Ronfeldt 
Abstract - The Information Society. The government world lags behind the business world in feeling the effects of the information technology revolution and related innovations in organization. But government may change radically in the decades ahead. This essay fields a concept, cyberocracy, to discuss how the development of, and demand for access to, the future electronic information and communications infrastructures may alter the nature of the bureaucracy. Although it is too early to say precisely what a cyberocracy may look like, the outcomes may include new forms of democratic, totalitarian, and hybrid governments.