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3.3Information Brokering: The Information Chainís Missing Link?

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"Information overload is the threat we all face, and therefore it is a huge opportunity for those who have the expertise to tame the information flow and supply it on time in the right measures."
from "New Thinking" by NUA, vol.2, issue 22


The key characteristic of the concept of agency, which was introduced in the previous section, is that it 'merely' helps to enhance and improve the processes as they occur in the information market. A very special kind of agency will be a third party in the information chain, and this party will enhance and catalyse the processes in it, just like the agencies of Information Push and Information Pull. It will do this by making supply and demand converge (or meet) in the best possible ways. That is why this stream has been labelled "Both Push & Pull" in diagram 2.

This third party has two very special characteristics compared to the other two parties:
1. It is supporting;
Whereas the agencies related to "Push" and "Pull" are indispensable parts of the information market, the "Push & Pull" agency is much more of a supporting nature, i.e. about offering all kinds of services - such as Trusted Third Party (TTP) services - and providing experience and expertise to others;
2. Contrary to the other two parties, the information chain can (at least theoretically) still function properly when this third one is not present;
Technically and theoretically speaking, you could do without most of the services that are offered by these intermediary parties. It could be compared to the way in which a librarian is necessary: you can search a library all by yourself, but you will probably save a lot of time and energy if you consult the librarian, as he or she is much more skilled and experienced with the task of finding the right information.

In [HERM96] a related concept, called "The Three Layer Model" (although, to the letter, it is not really a model) is addressed. The primary point of the model is that the Internet information chain would most likely function much better if, instead of having just two parties (or "layers") in the information chain, you have three, in which case the following information chain would emerge:

Diagram 3 - Overview of The Three Layer Model
Diagram 3 - Overview of "The Three Layer Model"

In this set-up, each of the individual parties is concerned with those tasks that they are best at. Each party has a matching type of agency (i.e. software agents), which is there to support them: e.g. by relieving them of many tedious, administrative tasks, which in most cases can be taken over just as well, or even better, by a computer program (i.e. software agents). In this way, agency enables humans to perform complex tasks better and faster.1

1= See chapter four of [HERM96] for more detailed information about "The Three Layer Model".
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Chapter 3 - From Internet to Online Market Place "Desperately Seeking: Helping Hands and Human Touch" -
by Björn Hermans