A Time for Talk and a Time for Silence

Herbert A. Simon
Richard King Mellon University Professor of
Computer Science and Psychology

Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213



The computer stores mountains of information which it communicates worldwide through an enormous bandwidth. We must learn to exercise severe, intelligent selectivity in mining our data mountains, and to communicate information in ways that will inform and not bury the recipients.

This is today's task of organizational design. Organizing combines human efforts efficiently, dividing the undertaking into separate but interdependent tasks and securing good coordination in their performance. An effective organization and its buildings balance opportunity for reflective deliberation against opportunity for mutual exchange of ideas and information. That balance is lost if talk drowns out silence. In our time, silence is unlikely to drown out talk.

Biographical information

Herbert A. Simon's research has ranged from computer science to psychology, administration, and economics, with a focus upon human decision-making and problem-solving, especially in organizations. He uses the computer both to simulate human thinking and to augment it with artificial intelligence.

Simon received his B.A. (1936) and Ph.D. (1943) in political science at the University of Chicago. Since 1949, he has been on the faculty of Carnegie Tech, now Carnegie Mellon University, where he is Richard King Mellon University Professor of Computer Science and Psychology.

In 1978, he received the Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, and in 1986 the National Medal of Science.

His books include Administrative Behavior, Human Problem Solving, jointly with Allen Newell, The Sciences of the Artificial, and his autobiography, Models of My Life.