T. Fischer and C.M. Herr, “Design Cybernetics: Navigating the New” (Springer, 2019) | New Books Network – podcast


T. Fischer and C.M. Herr, “Design Cybernetics: Navigating the New” (Springer, 2019) | New Books Network


Design Cybernetics

Navigating the New


August 20, 2020 Tom Scholte

Those who have followed this podcast in the past, and those who follow developments in cybernetics in the present, will be no strangers to the name Ranulph Glanville. This brilliant, multiple-PhD holding polymath who co-mingled cybernetics with ethics, pedagogy, and, above all, design, has, through his voluminous body of ground-breaking papers, had a greater influence upon the field than, arguably, any scholar since Heinz von Foerster.

At the 2015 Conference of the International Society for the Systems Sciences in Berlin, a group of self-proclaimed “Glanvillians” made up largely of former students and collaborators of Glanville, and a few interlopers like myself, met over a breakfast table at the Scandic Hotel, Potzdammer Platz, Berlin and, at the prompting of Thomas Fischer and Candy Herr, committed themselves to consolidating Glanville’s legacy and pointing the way to future extensions and investigations of his central claim that design is the practice of cybernetics and cybernetics is theory for design.

The result is Design Cybernetics: Navigating the New (Springer) edited by Fischer and Herr. Featuring an eclectic blend of mid-career and senior scholars, the assembled chapters probe the vital relationship between conversation and design, the commitments of a radical constructivist epistemology, the virtues of being “out of control”, the embracing of error, and the seemingly paradoxical notion of getting “lost with rigour” across a wide array of artistic and scientific domains.

As both the interviewer and a contributor to the book, I have, in the sprit of “walking our talk”, eschewed the erasure of error by editing and left, in full view, the meandering trail of a wandering and, at times, stumbling conversational journey featuring prolonged gaps in thinking, confusion between different articles by the same author, technical miscues, and even a pitched battle between my two cats, in order to model our commitment to process over perfection and personify Glanville’s favourite Samuel Beckett quote: “Try again, fail again, fail better.” I hope you find the stops along the way of this meandering journey as stimulating as I did.

Thomas Fischer is a design researcher, epistemologist and cybernetician. He is a Professor and Director of Research at the Department of Architecture at XJTLU in Suzhou, China. Thomas is also a Visiting Associate Professor at the School of Design at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Christiane M. Herr is an architectural researcher and educator focusing on the areas of structural design, digitally supported design, radical constructivism, design pedagogy and traditional Chinese approaches to creative thinking. Christiane is a Senior Associate Professor at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in China, where she directs the Master of Architectural Design as well as the Bachelor of Architectural Engineering programmes.


T. Fischer and C.M. Herr, “Design Cybernetics: Navigating the New” (Springer, 2019) | New Books Network

Bülent Duagi and Adam Thompson on Patterns of Strategy by Hoverstadt and Loh (twitter and linkedin)

Adam, with whom I seem to see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, and Bulent, of whom I suspect the same, have shared some great content relating to the book and worshop / approach Patterns of Strategy, (which I think ought to revolutionise strategy).

Bulent’s notes on a key summary page:

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and couple of great video blogs from Adam Thompson:



source on


and on twitter:

Bülent Duagi 🇷🇴 on Twitter: “Snapshot from “Patterns of Strategy” by Lucy Loh and Patrick Hoverstadt. Interesting read, new lenses for business strategy. Thanks for the recommendation, @antlerboy 🙏🏻 https://t.co/3cLm0KZZkR” / Twitter


International Journal of Complexity in Education

Complexity Digest

It is our pleasure to welcome you to the inaugural issue of the International Journal of Complexity in Education (IJCE). The aim of the journal is to disseminate mainly empirical research about the application of complexity theory paradigm to educational processes in the broadest sense of the word. The new paradigm focuses on general and specific properties of complex systems and includes the related subfields, such as chaos theory, agent-based modeling, social network analysis, cellular automata and catastrophe theory. In addition, it embraces all other theories and methods that have been developed explicitly to capture complex and unpredictable processes. The above comprise a distinct intellectual tradition that focuses on the study of all things complex, systemic, dynamical and nonlinear and while they typically utilize quantitative approaches, qualitative inquiries are not excluded as long as they adhere to philosophical –ontological and epistemological-considerations of Complex Adaptive Systems (…)

Source: complexityineducation.com

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Duncan Austin: Milton Friedman’s hazardous feedback loop

via Gerald Midgely


Duncan Austin: Milton Friedman’s hazardous feedback loop

 Duncan Austin: Milton Friedman’s hazardous feedback loop

The economist’s statement – 50 years old this week – propels the runaway corporatism that continues to destabilise our society and environment.

Friedman's feedback loop
Friedman’s feedback loop

In a famous article written 50 years ago this week, Milton Friedman argued ‘the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits’. The statement remains a lightning rod for the debate on ‘corporate purpose’ – whether public corporations should be managed just for the benefit of shareholders or for a broader set of stakeholders, including employees, suppliers and the community. 

We continue to go back and forth. In 2019, to much fanfare, 181 CEOs of the US Business Roundtable publicly committed to manage corporations for stakeholders – reversing their 1997 statement that upheld shareholder primacy! Not so fast, countered Harvard Law Professors Lucian Bebchuk and Roberto Tallarita, who argued that stakeholderism can backfire in insulating corporate leaders from external accountability and compromising economic performance… to the detriment of broader stakeholders! 

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Duncan Austin: Milton Friedman’s hazardous feedback loop

Cybernetics Ideas from a Thermostat:

Harish's Notebook - My notes... Lean, Cybernetics, Quality & Data Science.

The thermostat is a simple device that is often used to describe the basic ideas of Cybernetics. Cybernetics is the art of steering. Simply put, a goal is identified and the “system” acts to get closer to the goal. In the example of the thermostat, the user specifies the setpoint for the thermostat such that when the temperature goes below the setpoint, it kicks on the furnace and stops when the internal temperature of the house meets the desired temperature. In a similar fashion, when the temperature goes above a setpoint, the thermostat kicks on the air conditioner to bring down the internal temperature. The thermostat acts as a medium for achieving a constant temperature inside the house. This is also the idea of homeostasis. In order to achieve what the thermostat does, it needs to have a closed loop. It needs to read the internal temperature at specified frequencies…

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CECAN Webinar: Trophic Analysis of Directed Networks Tuesday 22nd September 2020, 13:00 – 14:00 BST


Webinar Registration – Zoom
Trophic Analysis of Directed Networks 
Tuesday 22nd September 2020, 13:00 – 14:00 BST
Presenter: Professor Robert MacKay, University of Warwick
 You are warmly invited to join us for the following CECAN Webinar…
 Webinar Overview: Directed networks are used in many domains. Particularly relevant examples to evaluation and appraisal are systems maps and influence maps. Trophic analysis indicates how far up or downstream each node is and computes a quantity called trophic incoherence, but perhaps better called circularity, which indicates the extent to which the network fails to line up with each node feeding to nodes at the next level. Robert will suggest incorporating trophic analysis into systems mapping, and present relations of trophic incoherence with some other network properties, and end with an application of incomplete pairwise comparison to football leagues. Learning Outcomes:How to quantify up/down-streamness in directed networks.How to quantify the directedness (or its complement, the circularity) of a directed network.
Presenter Biography – Professor Robert MacKay: Robert MacKay is a Professor in the Mathematics Institute of the University of Warwick and Director of Mathematical Interdisciplinary Research at Warwick. He was Professor of Nonlinear Dynamics at Cambridge (1995-2000), founding Director of Warwick’s Centre for Complexity Science from 2007-15 and President of the (UK) Institute of Mathematics and its Applications for 2012-13.

His principal area of research is the theory and applications of Nonlinear Dynamics. Highlights are the discovery and renormalisation explanation of how invariant tori break for magnetic fields and Hamiltonian systems; development of a method to establish regions through which no invariant tori pass; a proof of existence of spatially localised time-periodic movements in networks of oscillators and analysis of their stability, interaction and mobility; construction and proof of a mechanical example of an Anosov system (uniformly hyperbolic); and the construction of indecomposable spatially extended deterministic dynamical systems exhibiting more than one space-time phase.
How to Join: This talk will take place via a Zoom Webinar – please click here to register for a place. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. In case you are unable to attend, a recording of the webinar will be uploaded to News and Videos sections of our website following the event.


Webinar Registration – Zoom






The Collective Systems Map is the result of 2 months of conversations with a group of professionals from the third sector in Spain. It tries to capture the relationships between the critical factors that will condition and impact the social and economic recovery process after the Covid19 pandemic. It doesn´t pretend to be an exhaustive model to forecast the near future, but it is a framework to enable deep conversations and to integrate the wide range of perspectives and experiences that the participants shared with us.


Although we are using a causal loop diagram tool that is part of the systems dynamic methodology, we are not approaching this social complexity from only a positivist perspective, but also from an interpretative perspective. We believe that there are systems in place that condition the way we live and relate to each other, but at the same time people can change them by creating new meaning and acting congruently.

Our purpose is to provide social organizations with a holistic perspective to identify potential risks and threats to their mission to provide effective support to vulnerable people in this complicated moment in history.


The map starts with the lockdown instigated by the Covid19 pandemic. To tackle the social and health care emergency, the Spanish Government enforced a national lockdown, reducing all economic activity and social interactions.  This situation has triggered an economic recession, the size of which has prompted Germany and France to propose a 500bn€ recovery fund.

In our conversations, we focused on understanding what the economic, social, and political consequences of the pandemic could be.

In the first map…

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CCS 2020 Warm-Up

Complexity Digest

Coinciding with the Conference on Complex Systems, and profiting from the opportunity offered by the presence of a wide variety of experts in different topics, we are organising one-day school for PhD students and early-stage researchers. The school is an informal one-day event that offers early-stage scientists the opportunity to learn about the scientific and life experience of young and senior researchers, try their skills in a data visualisation and have fun playing the specifically tailored online trivia.

This year, due to a worldwide pandemic situation, the school is going to be to be held online on December 4, 2020, before the main CCS conference. The school consists of two non-scientific lectures from young scientists, ask me anything session with a prominent senior researcher, data visualisation contest and an online pub quiz. The sessions will be divided by informal coffee breaks, where participants may chatter with their peers, as in a…

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What Lies Beneath – A Human Systems Perspective: A Conversation with Barry Oshry — Quality & Equality


What Lies Beneath – A Human Systems Perspective: A Conversation with Barry Oshry — Quality & Equality

What Lies Beneath – A Human Systems Perspective: A Conversation with Barry Oshry

In this video we are joined by Barry Oshry, a distinguished educator/scholar/practitioner and a pioneer in the field of human systems thinking. Barry’s mission is to create robust human systems – systems of Power and Love. His research, writing and teaching have focused on the identification of patterns of human systems power dynamics arising when people work together in organisations, communities, groups, and families. He has also explored how such patterns can – without awareness – deteriorate into dysfunctional and conflict-laden systems. His research has led him to develop hope through growing partnerships between different parties by helping them understand and see their dynamic patterns, therefore giving rise to life-giving systems. Today, Barry shares with us his journey to seeing systems, describes the multiple patterns we fall into within organizations, and outlines how we can look beneath the veil to see these patterns.

Articles and Resources

  • Seeing Systems: Unlocking the Mysteries of Organizational Life
  • Context, Context, Context: How Our Blindness to Context Cripples Even the Smartest Organizations
  • The Organic Systems Framework: A New Paradigm for Understanding and Intervening in Organizational Life
  • powerandsystems.com

Note: Barry would like to clarify that in his references to his Boston University experiences in the 1960s, he refers specifically to what was then called The College of Business Administration whose unique culture and student body were distinct from those of other colleges within the university.


Barry Oshry is a distinguished educator and a pioneer in the field of human systems thinking. His mission is to create robust human systems – systems of Power and Love. Barry serves this mission through transforming systems blindness into system sight. His research, writing and teaching have focused on the human systems dynamics arising when people are in top, middle, bottom, and customer relationships with one another. His research has also led him to investigate the dynamics at play when dominant cultures interact with “other” cultures. Barry is the developer of the Power Lab, a weeklong total immersion leadership development experience, the Organization Workshop on Creating Partnership, and the When Cultures Meet Workshop. Barry is the author of Seeing Systems, Leading Systems, and Context, Context, Context.  He is also a playwright whose stage productions include “What A Way To Make A Living,” “Hierarchy” and “Peace.” In 1975, Barry and his wife and partner, Karen Ellis Oshry, founded Power+ Systems Training, Inc. in Boston, from which they retired in 2017. It continues to be the organization from which much of his work continues.


Email: oshrybarry@gmail.com


What Lies Beneath – A Human Systems Perspective: A Conversation with Barry Oshry — Quality & Equality

Barrry says:

What Lies Beneath: Part I

This is the first of two videos I created as part of Dr. Mee-Yan Cheung Judge’s Just in Case series. The request was to present the essence of my work along with what drives me to do that work. The title – What Lies Beneath – represents my attempt to cover both. My goal in these presentations is to bring about a cultural shift in how we make sense of our day to day interactions with one another, whether in the family, the organization, the community, or any of the many social systems of our lives. I draw a distinction between how our interactions are normally experienced and how they are viewed through a human systems framework. Using this framework, I demonstrate how, without awareness or choice, we regularly fall into scenarios that are unsatisfying, unproductive, and often destructive of our relationships and our systems. 

This framework also enables us – with awareness and choice along with determination and strategic thinking – to create satisfying, creative, and productive relationships in all the systems of our lives. 

This material is also covered in Barry Oshry, What Lies Beneath, Organization Development Journal, volume 38, number 3, 11-32. (Fall, 2020) My thanks to the editors.


Impact Gaps Canvas: Tackling Heropreneurship using an Ecosystem Approach – online event, 21 and 28 September 2020

Relates to the Impact Gaps Canvas:


[Public Event] Impact Gaps Canvas: Tackling Heropreneurship using an Ecosystem Approach


A two-part, research-focused workshop for social entrepreneurs to learn about the landscape and ecosystem they’re working within.

About this Event

“We are in an age of heropreneurship: everyone wants to ‘be’ a social entrepreneur. The myth of the entrepreneur creates a false hierarchy with ‘start-up founder’ at the top. We foster this obsession in our education, our funding, our awards, and our media. But we don’t just need more founders. We need more positive social impact.”

– Tackling Heropreneurship

During this two-part workshop on September 21 and September 28, you will learn how to use the Impact Gaps Canvas: a research tool designed by Daniela Papi-Thornton. The Impact Gaps Canvas teaches entrepreneurs how to take an “ecosystem” approach both at the outset of building their social enterprise and as an iterative process in working on initiatives that require us to constantly adapt, evolve, and respond.

Please note that by registering for this event, you are committing to Part 1 and Part 2 of this workshop.

This workshop is best suited for early stage social entrepreneurs who are looking to understand the landscape of their work: their problem space, existing solutions, and gaps to meaningfully catalyze impact and innovation.

Monday September 21, 12:00-1:30pm ET | PART 1 (90 minutes)

This session explores how well-rounded research identifies landscape gaps that lead to more impactful solutions and enterprise models.

Monday September 28, 12:00-1:00pm ET | PART 2 (60 minutes)

This session is focused on peer coaching and feedback on participants’ first iteration of their Impact Gaps Canvas.

By the end of this workshop series, you will:

  • Understand the value of an ecosystem approach to problem solving
  • Frame ecosystem research using the Impact Gaps Canvas
  • Begin to uncover the root causes of the challenges in your landscape
  • Learn how to use the Impact Gaps Canvas to research an issue you are passionate about and understand how to identify meaningful gaps within the landscape
  • Learn the importance of interviewing a variety of landscape stakeholders
  • Be ready to test assumptions through guided research

Participants are encouraged to watch this video and come to the sessions with the Impact Gaps Canvas tool downloaded and ready to be worked on. Printing the tool is not necessary.

This session will be facilitated by Peggy Sue Deaven, Program Lead and Facilitator at the Centre for Social Innovation.



[Public Event] Impact Gaps Canvas: Tackling Heropreneurship using an Ecosystem Approach

The Theory of Emergence, Ablowitz 1939

We’ve mentioned before Lewes writing about emergence in 1875 – but another important link to the history of the concept here from Matthew Shapiro in the Ecology of Systems Thinking facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/ecologyofsystemsthinking/permalink/3320043871408067/)

The Theory of Emergence

Reuben AblowitzPhilosophy of ScienceVol. 6, No. 1 (Jan., 1939), pp. 1-16 (16 pages)Published By: The University of Chicago Presshttps://www.jstor.org/stable/184327


The Theory of Emergence on JSTOR

Document: https://sci-hub.tw/10.2307/184327

Algebra of Conscience – works of Vladimir Lefebvre


Algebra of Conscience

Vladimir A. Lefebvre was born and educated in Russia. Since the early
1960s, he keeps working on studying reflexion as a special phenomenon.
He has introduced the concepts of reflexive analysis, reflexive games,
reflexive systems, and reflexive control in the realm of Social Sciences.
Since 1974 he lived and worked in the USA.


Algebra of Conscience

Architecture, Data and Intelligence: A Cybernetics View of Data-Driven – Richard Veryard


Architecture, Data and Intelligence: A Cybernetics View of Data-Driven

Architecture, Data and Intelligence

by Richard Veryard

Monday, August 03, 2020

A Cybernetics View of Data-Driven

Cybernetics helps us understand dynamic systems that are driven by a particular type of data. Here are some examples:

  • Many economists see markets as essentially driven by price data.
  • On the Internet (especially social media) we can see systems that are essentially driven by click data.
  • Stan culture, where hardcore fans gang up on critics who fail to give the latest album a perfect score

In a recent interview with Alice Pearson of CRASSH, Professor Will Davies explains the process as follows:

For Hayek, the advantage of the market was that it was a space in which stimulus and response could be in a constant state of interactivity: that prices send out information to people, which they respond to either in the form of consumer decisions or investment decisions or new entrepreneurial strategies.

Davies argued that this is now managed on screens, with traders on Wall Street and elsewhere constantly interacting with (as he says) flashing numbers that are rising and falling.

The way in which the market is visualized to people, the way it presents itself to people, the extent to which it is visible on a single control panel, is absolutely crucial to someone’s ability to play the market effectively.

Davies attributes to cybernetics a particular vision of human agency: to think of human beings as black boxes which respond to stimuluses in particular ways that can be potentially predicted and controlled. (In market trading, this thought leads naturally to replacing human beings with algorithmic trading.)

Davies then sees this cybernetic vision encapsulated in the British government approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Architecture, Data and Intelligence: A Cybernetics View of Data-Driven

Inclusive Systemic Evaluation for Gender equality, Environments and Marginalized voices (ISE4GEMs): A new approach for the SDG era | UN Women – Headquarters


Event: Inclusive Systemic Evaluation for Gender equality, Environments and Marginalized voices (ISE4GEMs): A new approach for the SDG era | UN Women – Headquarters

from Ellen Lewis’ presentation at today’s OR62 conference:

Inclusive Systemic Evaluation for Gender equality, Environments and Marginalized voices (ISE4GEMs): A new approach for the SDG era

This event introduced a new guide to the Inclusive Systemic Evaluation for Gender equality, Environments and Marginalized voices (ISE4GEMs) approach. The guide provides a summary of the key theoretical concepts and practical guidance and tools.

This event launched a new guide from the UN Women Independent Evaluation Service, titled “Inclusive Systemic Evaluation for Gender equality, Environments and Marginalized voices (ISE4GEMs): A new approach for the SDG era”.

With the advent of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there is a call for new approaches and methodologies to understand and evaluate combinations of these global challenges, their integrated nature, and their complexities. One such approach is ISE4GEMs, which brings together innovative systemic evaluation practice with intersectional analysis. It promotes transdisciplinary evaluation methods, rethinks systemic evaluation methodology, and introduces the Gender equality, Environments and Marginalized voices (GEMs) framework.

This guide introduces the new approach and includes both a summary of the key theoretical concepts and guidance and tools for applying it in practice.

The event included the co-authors of the approach—Ms. Anne Stephens, Ms. Ellen Lewis, and Ms. Shravanti Reddy—and a panel discussion on its relevance for evaluating in the SDG era. It was chaired by Ms. Jessie Rose Mabutas, Director, a.i., of the UN Women Independent Evaluation and Audit Service.

Sponsored by: UN Women HeadquartersMore information:

  • Contact person: Ms. Jillian Torres jillian.torres[at]unwomen.org


Event: Inclusive Systemic Evaluation for Gender equality, Environments and Marginalized voices (ISE4GEMs): A new approach for the SDG era | UN Women – Headquarters

Weak signals – are we communicating with our breath? Interconnected – a blog by Matt Webb


ID’ing movies by fingerprinting the breath for isoprene (Interconnected)



ID’ing movies by fingerprinting the breath for isoprene


I wonder what gaseous social cues we’re missing, working remotely.

Like, there’s that paper from 2016 about isoprene emissions in human breath…

First, attach a mass spectrometer to the outflow vent of a movie theatre. (They used a theatre for this experiment because it’s a closed box with lots of people in it, amplifying the signal. A good controlled environment.) Then measure the gas quantities every 30 seconds. And:

In Hunger Games: Catching Fire, for example, during the “suspense” scenes–when Jennifer Lawrence was in particular danger–the carbon dioxide, acetone, and isoprene levels in the theater air predictably increased.

The AtlanticEmotions Seem to Be Detectable in AirGo to text →

Check out the graphs in this other article, which continues:  Nearly identical peak-trough-peak patterns occurred during all four screenings of the film in December 2013, allowing the researchers to blindly identify the film just by looking at its unique, air-based fingerprint.

RELATED: you can also tell what someone’s watching by looking at the electricity consumption of the TV. Multimedia Content Identification Through Smart Meter Power Usage Profiles (2012, pdf) shows that if you measure power draw through a smart meter, twice a second, the fingerprint can identify the movie.

Now, it’s not clear whether isoprene changes are signals to one another, or simply byproducts of emotion-based reactions.

But, given an available signal, it would be crazy of the human body to not take it into account.

And if isoprene, then what else? Oxytocin has an effect when delivered into the nose – is it also exhaled, and so passed from one person to another? And other gases in the breath?

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ID’ing movies by fingerprinting the breath for isoprene (Interconnected)