The Informed Middle Project

smdi_or.gif About the project

The Informed Middle project began in 2005 in Flagstaff, Arizona, USA. The goal was to find a way to tackle complex and controversial social issues through massive collaboration over the Internet. An early insight was that controversial issues tend to be over-simplified and shoe-horned into polar viewpoints. With its pro-life and pro-choice factions the abortion issue is a standout example. But as issues mature they tend to spawn intermediate positions, as well as more extreme views. Thus the range of viewpoints fit a spectrum of opinion, stepping from one polar extreme to the other. Through work on the abortion issue, the opinion spectrum methodology gradually took shape. (The resulting document can be found in this website.)

An attempt to apply the methodology to a very different type of issue (the Israel-Palestinians dispute), although useful, revealed the limitations of the process. A different methodology was needed; one that could handle any level of complexity. The key was to progressively deconstruct a complex issue into increasingly elemental sub-issues. This led to the complex issues-handling methodology.

Finally the project turned on how to build an integrated enterprise without creating a single vast information system. The solution turned out to be a network of interoperating information systems knitted together by a common infrastructure. Another problem was how to organize a vast number of potential contributors. The answer here was the formation of a Virtual Society.

smdi_or.gif About the author

The methodologies and concepts described in this website are the work of Malcolm Hornby, a British national and permanent resident of the USA. He was trained fresh from grammar school as a systems analyst with British Leyland at its (then) factory in Swindon, UK. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Brighton Polytechnic, now the University of Brighton, UK.

Since 1974 he has resided in the USA. He has worked for a New York City-based computer consultancy, the Equitable Life Assurance Society, and TIAA-CREF before “early retiring” in 2002 to Flagstaff, Arizona. His professional career included periods in computer system design, applications infrastructure design, project management and middle management. The Informed Middle project is his attempt to do something useful with the rest of his life.