The Ecology of Information shows how organizations evolve and grow in an information age. In today's world of downsizings and rapid reorganizations, organizational behavior is conditioned less by dramatic leadership than by the information environment that surrounds groups and creates social values. That environment is the information ecosystem that controls data and human behavior. The Ecology of Information explains why information means more than statistics and raw data. It behaves, instead, like living tissue inside of information organisms. The public sees these organisms as formal organizations controlled by people. But underneath the veneer of human control, information biology governs collective behavior and actions. Interacting with each other, all information organisms make up the information ecosystem that we know as culture. The ecosystem balances information biology to keep all information organisms alive and productive.
Anyone who wants to understand how organizations work needs to understand the rules of the information ecosystem and its resident species. The book explains those rules and shows why organizations sometimes behave with complete disregard for individual needs and desires. It shows that organizational charts and hierarchies of large organizations present only part of the picture. An organization's character and personality are better understood by looking at how it functions as an information organism within a larger information ecosystem.
The information ecosystem describes how cultures evolve and why they institutionalize problems such as welfare and crime by surrounding the problems with large bureaucracies. The process is natural and not confined to government. It happens in business and social groups as well. Anyone who wants to change an organization and make it more responsive should understand this process. Individuals who undertake change efforts without this understanding often suffer frustration and give up. The Ecology of Information gives readers a different perspective on group behavior. It explains how group actions grow directly from information that the group processes. Once this behavior is understood it becomes much easier to deal with decisions and change in any organization.
Unlike books focused exclusively on business, The Ecology of Information uses examples from political and social groups. The book's main thesis holds that all organizations operate according to similar principles. They behave as though they were living persons with their own needs and purposes. If you understand how groups satisfy these needs, you can understand any organization, regardless of its purpose or its resources.