Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 June 2013
This paper discusses ideas that impact the fc factor as defined by Frank Drake in 1961, i.e. the fraction of planets with intelligent creatures capable of interstellar communication. This factor remains one of the most speculative terms of the equation. We suggest that the ability of sharing information is an important parameter to take into account in evaluating the tendency of a civilization to make contact (or share data) with other civilizations. Thus, we give special consideration to the fraction of planets with intelligent creatures capable of producing and sharing large amount of data. First, we determine the level of our own civilization in the framework of Sagan's energy- and information-based classification, by taking into account the recent improvements in computing and networking technologies. Second, we distinguish two types of organization, hierarchical and heterarchical, with respect to information sharing. We illustrate this distinction in the case of SETI and we show that the probability to detect a civilization would be greater if it is heterarchical than if it is hierarchical and if we utilize heterarchical principles for SETI.