2018/10/09 Dan Stokols, |Social Ecology, Systems Thinking, & Psychology | How to Save the World (web video + audio)

Media Queue --> Coevolving Innovations

Social ecology and environmental psychology described @dstokols@Social_Ecology , interviewed by @katiepatrick . References #WilliamsJames on attention. Book on Social Ecology in the Digital Age released in 2018.

[01:02 Katie Patrick] Can you explain what social ecology is, and also what environmental psychology is, and how they’re different and how they fit together.

[01:11 Dan Stokols] Well, social ecology grew out of the field of ecology which started in biology back in the 1800s and it’s basically looking at the interrelationships between organisms and their environments — their living environments, other species as well as abiotic features of the environment, climate topography, and that kind of thing.

[01:29]And those biological principles were applied to human communities in the early 1900’s. And that field became known as human ecology. But it was almost a literal translation of Darwinian assumptions about how different kinds of organisms adapt to their environments, only applied…

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Boundaries? Are you sure? – GentlySerious – Medium

The English language insists that there are things, objects, creatures, all sorts of discrete stuff. This is what we teach our children…

Source: Boundaries? Are you sure? – GentlySerious – Medium

Trees can show us how – GentlySerious – Medium

Often relationships are the reality that creates what we take to be real. This goes so much against what we have been brought up to see…

Source: Trees can show us how – GentlySerious – Medium

Call for Nominations: Editor-in-Chief for IEEE Transactions on Cybernetics Nomination Deadline: 10 December 2019

Call for Nominations: Editor-in-Chief for IEEE Transactions on Cybernetics Nomination Deadline: 10 December 2019 Please submit nominations to: Enrique Herrera-Viedma, SMCS Vice President-Publications, via email to viedma@decsai.ugr.es.

 

 

Tinkering with Thinkering …

Excellent barn-busting romp from ‘ComplexWales’ –

Tinkering with Thinkering

Stop! Just stop it! Now, right now! You know who you all are. I’ve just about had e-bloody-nough of you lot and your Tinkering with Thinkering.

Design Thinking, Leadership Thinking, Coproduction Thinking, Nudge Thinking, Anthropocene Thinking, Humanistic Thinking, Innovation Thinking, Lean Thinking, Complexity Thinking, Ergonomic Thinking, Behavioural Thinking, Creative Thinking, Positive Thinking, Safety Thinking, bloody Systems Thinking and all the other similarly pointless linguistic redundancies.

I’m going to start with Systems Thinking. That phrase has caused all kinds of bother, having been used over the years to mean all sorts of things: from a bit of Pot Noodle Project Management (just add water) to achieving some sort of Quantum Transcendence (a near-Buddha orbit). Arguably invented by the early Cyberneticians, the phrase in terms of its contemporary lexicon should be synonymous with Russ Ackoff, but similar phrases have been attributed to all kinds of clever bods over the years. Ironically in talking about systems, they were typically hidden away in the depths of their silos of physics, engineering, mathematics, biology, psychology, computation and philosophy going all the way back to a couple of ancient oriental geezers. I could write this solely in Lao Tzu memes, but way down at the other end of the thinking scale, let’s get something clear before we start. Peter Senge did not invent Systems Thinking and his bastardisation into all those rules and shared vision claptrap, has caused decades of painful top down abuse. Even if that’s not what he meant, that’s what has happened and if I could go back in time just for a moment, I’d ignore the genocidal despots and take out Senge. It’s that bad.

First of all of course, there were systems, lots of them in one form or another, then a few people noticed them and started thinking about how those systems actually worked. Then someone started thinking about people who were thinking about systems, who in turn thought about how people thinking about thinking about systems, were thinking and so on and so forth in an ever decreasing circle of navel gazing, in the pretentious pursuit of profundity. In reality that sort of thinking should be called metaphysics which albeit unfashionable, is one of the myriad ways of thinking systematically, that is Philosophy. Systems Thinking is not simply thinking systematically, as you can do that and legitimately invent all kinds of nonsense that has nothing to do with how the Universe actually works. And boy have we got some of that claptrap in close proximity to the word System: mostly spiralling around some happyclappy who has drawn their 5/7/9/12 point list of equivocal platitudes into a shape that they peddle furiously.

And on that note Systems Thinking is always peddled as something positive. Now, getting momentarily scientific, there are such things as closed systems. Ordered, teleological, designed, mechanical and controlled and there are concepts, methods and tools that are perfectly applicable in these sorts of spaces. Reliability, Lean and Six Sigma (Lean on speed) to name but a few, that are often collectively referred to within Systems Thinking. There are also such things as open systems. Complex, adaptive, emergent, alive and dynamic and there are very different concepts, methods and tools that are applicable in these sorts of spaces. Nonlinearity, storytelling and sense-making and these are also referred to within Systems Thinking. All systems are nested, I know, but trying to apply closed system methods in an open system, causes most of the organisational disasters that we are currently confronting.

The universe is made of systems, or at least that’s how humans – on average 1.9 arms + 1.9 legs + 1.0 thinking appendage – have come to know a bit about the universe, by studying its myriad systems. Traditionally this has been reductively; studying systems by breaking them down into their bits. Over the past 70 years however we’ve also tried to study systems holistically; by making sense of their cumulative effects. Go on define system, I dare you. Well, before you try, don’t get all het up as the best brains in the world so far, pretty much agree that there is no single definition of a system. There are some reliable characteristics and if you got two out of three, you’re probably right:

A system has bits that affect each other directly, indirectly and occasionally both and neither.
A system has at least one effect that is not present in any of its bits.
A system has a boundary that is typically where you place its proper noun, beyond which the affect and effect of its bits, are manifest.
In reality there is no such thing as Systems Thinking, it’s little more than a catchy phrase nailed to the back of a 70 year old bulging bandwagon.

Continues on link below…

@ComplexWales

Stop! Just stop it! Now, right now! You know who you all are. I’ve just about had e-bloody-nough of you lot and your Tinkering with Thinkering.

Design Thinking, Leadership Thinking, Coproduction Thinking, Nudge Thinking, Anthropocene Thinking, Humanistic Thinking, Innovation Thinking, Lean Thinking, Complexity Thinking, Ergonomic Thinking, Behavioural Thinking, Creative Thinking, Positive Thinking, Safety Thinking, bloody Systems Thinking and all the other similarly pointless linguistic redundancies.

I’m going to start with Systems Thinking. That phrase has caused all kinds of bother, having been used over the years to mean all sorts of things: from a bit of Pot Noodle Project Management (just add water) to achieving some sort of Quantum Transcendence (a near-Buddha orbit). Arguably invented by the early Cyberneticians, the phrase in terms of its contemporary lexicon should be synonymous with Russ Ackoff, but similar phrases have been attributed to all kinds of clever bods over the years. Ironically in…

View original post 2,423 more words

Reconceptualising organisations: from complicated machines to flowing streams – Sonja Blignaut

Excellent cybernetic thinking from Sonja Blignaut, as usual.

Source: Reconceptualising organisations: from complicated machines to flowing streams.

 

Reconceptualising organisations: from complicated machines to flowing streams.

I’ve often wondered about the seeming detour my life took when I chose to study meteorology. Looking at the work I do now, something like industrial psychology or business sciences seems more appropriate. Recently though, a new penny has dropped: weather systems are flow systems. As I’ve come to see flow as one of the primary lenses to use to understand and structure a system, I’ve realised that studying the dynamics of weather (and other natural) systems were, in a way, the perfect preparation for the emerging trajectory of my work.

Over the last few years, I have come to realise that the interplay between flow, constraints and options is key to understanding how to navigate and thrive in complexity. With “flow”, I mean flow in the broadest sense of the word. There are some flows that we are very familiar with: workflow, process flow, cash flow, data flow, information flow … however, we need to broaden our thinking.

In machines, there is a specific ‘inflow’ and a specific ‘outflow’. In organisms, everything flows. (Nicolson, 2018)

Too often we still view organisations through a mechanistic lens and this impacts on the flows we pay attention to. If we see them instead as living systems, organisms or ecosystems, it soon becomes clear that flow is central to every aspect of the organisation.

Whatever else they may be, living systems are highly stabilised flows of energy and matter. Machines may take part in various processes, but organisms are themselves processes. (Nicolson, 2018)

If we look at organisations not as machines, but as living entities — ecosystems or organisms, we have to look at them as flow systems. Flow, therefore, becomes a beneficial lens to help us think about new ways of working, new organisational structures and new forms of management.

continues in source: Reconceptualising organisations: from complicated machines to flowing streams.

Cybernetics and behaviourism – Hayek 1920, Pask 1970, Parallel Distributed Processing, 1987,Ana Teixeira Pinto, 2013

Hayek and The Sensory Order, 1920

See tweet below

Pask – The meaning of cybernetics in the behavioural sciences, 1970

https://www.pangaro.com/pask/pask%20meaning%20of%20cybernetics%20in%20behavioural%20sciences.pdf

Parallel Distributed Processing, 1987

See tweet and links below.

The Pigeon in the Machine. The Concept of Control in Behaviorism and Cybernetics, An Teixeira Pinto, 2015

Source: The Pigeon in the Machine: The Concept of Control in Behaviourism and Cybernetics | Manifesta Journal

 

Another tweet stream from David Chapman which touches powerfully on cybernetics – maybe… Hayek was a cybernetician? (Though, of course, my attention has been drawn before to Hayek’s 1974 speech – https://stream.syscoi.com/2019/09/23/econpapers-the-pretence-of-knowledge-hayeks-nobel-prize-lecture-1974/ and https://stream.syscoi.com/2019/10/28/the-anti-socialist-origins-of-big-data-the-nation-greg-grandin/ – which could be seen as a riposte to Beer and Cybernsyn –

I’m going to leave all this here because I know it is connected, but I do have a life to lead!

 

Parallel Distributed Processing, of which David began the tweet stream saying “The founding text of the 1980s version of “neural” network nonsense was titled Parallel Distributed Processing. Its important central idea was forgotten because people latched onto the easy-to-understand error backpropagation algorithm instead.”, looks like it’s all available online at stanford.edu/~jlmcc/papers/ (just increment the chapter number)