As the computer more and more becomes a tool to further quantitative political science research, the data analysis function threatens to overshadow the use of computers as information processors. Among the many functions of contemporary computer software is the ability to move text from user to user. These packages, available on almost any mainframe system, generally take the form of “electronic mail” systems and have proven invaluable for academics in communicating with each other around the world, making information thousands of miles distant seem located just around the corner.
Mail systems do not diminish in utility even when used just around the corner. Users recognize the benefit of distant information acting as if of local origin, but should not miss the converse. Information local in nature, in using mail systems, can appear to originate from sources far away if the users choose to view the information in that fashion. In essence, mail systems provide the means to model a framework simulating interaction among international political actors.
Thus the computer provides an ideal instrument to model diplomacy in the classroom and can aid instruction on the concept of diplomacy. When taken in the abstract, it seems difficult to teach diplomacy. Several questions arise concerning the concept's place in academia. First, why teach it? The answer lies in the state system. Nations behave as to achieve goals. War presents the starkest and most violent means to attain them, but nations often can eschew war and pursue goals by peaceful meansn—diplomacy. To creditably teach the behavior of nations requires investigation of diplomacy.