Juan C. Correa
Front. Phys., 21 February 2020
In a recent round table organized by the Santa Fe Institute, the complexity of commerce captured the attention of those interested in understanding how complex systems science can be applicable for settings where consumers and providers interact. Despite the usefulness of applied complexity for commerce-related phenomena, few works have attempted to provide insightful ideas. This mini-review aims at providing a succinct discussion of how the metrics of emergence, self-organization, and complexity might benefit the research agenda of applied complexity and commerce/consumer studies. In particular, the paper argues possible pragmatic ways to understanding the valuable information present in word-of-mouth data found on electronic commerce platforms.
It has been called the third great revolution of 20th-century physics, after relativity and quantum theory. But how can something called chaos theory help you understand an orderlyworld? What practical things might it be good for? What, in fact, is chaos theory? “Chaos theory,” according to Dr. Steven Strogatz, Director of the Center for Applied Mathematics at Cornell University, “is the science of how things change.” It describes the behavior of any system whose state evolves over time and whose behavior is sensitive to small changes in its initial conditions.
The 24 lectures of Chaos take you to the heart of chaos theory as it is understood today. Taught by Professor Strogatz, an award-winning Ivy League professor and a scientist described by Nature magazine as “one of the most creative biomathematicians of the past few decades,” Chaos introduces you to a fascinating discipline that has more to do with your everyday life than you may realize.
A Revolutionary Way of Thinking
Surprisingly, you have already encountered chaos theory before, although you might not have recognized it at the time. From the flapping of a butterfly’s wings to the dripping of a leaky faucet, chaos theory draws a wealth of unordinary insight from the most ordinary of occurrences.
Chaos theory affects nearly every field of human knowledge and endeavor, from astronomy and zoology to the arts, the humanities, and business. It can:
This course shows you the importance of this revolutionary field and how it has helped us come closer than ever to solving some of life’s mysteries. Today, the underlying mathematics of science’s major unsolved problems—including the nature of consciousness, the origin of life, and cancer—are essentially nonlinear; express any of these problems as a mathematical system and you learn that the whole may be either more or less than the sum of its parts.
In its ability to tackle bewilderingly complex problems, chaos theory has revolutionized the way we perceive the world around us. It allows scientists to reach beyond a dependency on the analytical limitations of the deterministic, “clockwork” universe that was the legacy of thinkers like Galileo, Kepler, and especially Newton.
Throughout the lectures, Professor Strogatz makes the case for why chaos theory marks such a radical departure from traditional science:
Follow the Exciting Story of Chaos
As you delve into this ever-evolving field, you learn the surprising tale of how chaos theory was discovered—a story that Professor Strogatz likens to a detective novel filled with twists and turns.
First glimpsed by the French mathematician Henri Poincaré, the notion of chaos theory was lost for nearly a century before being rediscovered—almost accidentally. It was revived by a mathematically oriented meteorologist named Edward Lorenz, whose development of the butterfly effect (the extreme sensitivity of a chaotic system to tiny changes in its initial conditions) had little impact until the 1970s and 1980s, when the wave of chaos theory finally crashed onto the shores of the scientific community.
As you follow the story of chaos theory’s development, you approach the core ideas of chaos in the same way the world’s greatest thinkers, grounded in their historical contexts, once did. This story not only helps you understand the fundamentals of this field, but it also helps you appreciate the extraordinary intellectual feat that chaos theory represents.
Learn Chaos Theory Visually
This course offers you a unique opportunity to get an expert’s instruction on the field of chaos theory and is one of the only places outside the halls of academia where you can follow along with detailed computer graphics—specifically developed for this course—as visual aids.
“For understanding these core concepts [of chaos theory], pictures turn out to be much more powerful than formulas,” notes Professor Strogatz. Forgoing a heavy reliance on advanced math, he uses clear and powerful computer graphics to clarify chaos theory’s core concepts.
A large portion of the course explores the intimate relationship between chaos theory and fractals: shapes or processes whose structures repeat ad infinitum such that the tiniest parts resemble the original whole. You see how fractals are unique from more commonly known shapes like circles and cubes and how they can be used to describe a variety of processes and phenomena like the jagged coastline of Norway or the drip paintings of Jackson Pollock.
Find the Unordinary in the Ordinary
Professor Strogatz’s expert guidance lays bare the complexities of chaos theory in a way that any interested layperson can understand. With the insights he provides in Chaos, news stories about key scientific discoveries and new directions in research take on a fresh importance.
Professor Strogatz is a teacher repeatedly honored by institutions and students alike. During his tenure at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he received the E. M. Baker Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the university’s only institute-wide teaching prize selected and awarded solely by students. In 2007, he received a lifetime achievement award for the communication of mathematics to the general public from the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics, which represents the four major American mathematical societies.
Whether charting the exciting history of the field, focusing on fractals as “the footprints of chaos,” or journeying to the frontiers of chaos research, this course shows you new ways to think about and view the world around you.
‘Safety II’ (I like the PreAccident Investigation Podcast, there used to be a good Australian one, and of course Sidney Dekker’s writing) – along with urban development (see @strongtowns from @clmarohn, and I also like @wrathofgnon) and asset-based community development (see @CormacRussell, and of course John McKnight), seem to me to be humanistic, applied, intelligent applications of systems thinking/complexity/cybernetics which deserve very much to be part of the same universe.
13:00 – 14:00
Followed by a brief conversation with a leading UK voice in patient safety and Safety-II, Suzette Woodward, and a Q&A.
Lots more resources, collated I think by Matthew Kalman Mezey, at source: ‘The Quiet Revolution in QI: Safety-II and the Return of Practical Expertise’ – Andrew Smaggus and Suzette Woodward | Q Community
Recommended by Sharon Zivkovic who is co-chairing the Complexity stream: https://isircconference2020.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/ISIRC2020_Stream_Social_Innovation_and_Complexity.pdf
Conference theme: Social innovation and enterprise for more prosperous, fair and sustainable societies
Sheffield welcomes you to the 12th International Social Innovation Research Conference (ISIRC) in September 2020
ISIRC is the world’s leading interdisciplinary social innovation research conference. The conference brings together scholars from across the globe to discuss social innovation from varied perspectives.
The conference will take place at the Crowne Plaza Royal Victoria Sheffield City Centre.
ISIRC participants are encouraged to extend their stay in Sheffield.
via Stuart Umpleby, a potential place to publish systems thinking and cybernetics papers:
I hope this email finds you well. As a highly valued past contributor to the International Journal of Systems and Society (IJSS), we (IGI Global) together with the Editor-in-chief, are reaching out to you today with an invitation to submit your latest research work to the journal in the form of a new article manuscript. Due to the substantial value your previous contribution provided to the journal, we welcome a manuscript submission from you related to the content of your previously published work or a manuscript focused on an entirely new area relevant to the scope of the journal.
Since you last contributed, a lot has happened at IGI Global. For instance, all of IGI Global’s journals have been recognized by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), as IGI Global is a full member of the organization. Being recognized by such a prestigious ethical organization is an honor, especially in an age when ethical publication practice is paramount in academia.
We encourage you to visit the journal’s webpage https://www.igi-global.com/journal/international-journal-systems-society/75104 to view its current scope and topic coverage.
To view the current call for papers page, please visit: https://www.igi-global.com/calls-for-papers/international-journal-systems-society/75104
To submit a paper, please visit: https://www.igi-global.com/submission/submit-manuscript/?jid=75104
In positioning themselves as intellectual leaders of the social sector, it’s important for Lankelly Chase to kick the tyres of their theory.
This is a quick blog in response to a more considered one from Lankelly Chase’s Julian Corner. It is written on a plane, after two intensive days at a conference conducted in multiple languages, only two of which I speak fluently. Code switching of that kind is useful, I find, as a reminder that even in the absence of a fully shared language, you can still achieve a good deal of useful communication. Even complex communication.
Sometimes though, all the same, you lose clarity.
As a good student of Ian Hacking, I think clarity matters. I think it matters particularly when theory is abstracted from its home in academic departments to guide the practice of social programmes. This has been the curious destiny of ‘complexity’, which has slipped out of university departments to become romantically entangled with ‘systems’, cavorting and arousing the passions of social sector leaders.
As a sector we are proudly pro-passion, but we oughtn’t to let it cloud our thinking.
In the case of complexity, the weather can quickly turn foggy. There’s a thundery patch early on in the Lankelly blog when frameworks and processes are contrasted with a ‘complex reality’ that is presented as underlying our attempts to act upon it (for good or ill).
There’s an awful lot going on in that kind of presentation of ‘reality’, and none of it is uncontroversial. Its particular attraction to a new school of philanthropy needs a bit of contextual unpicking.
Complexity is a new kind of idea for philanthropy. Traditional philanthropic endeavour has its roots in well-intentioned patronage. It tends to exaggerate its own importance, and circulate, even impose, its own particular worldview on, say, hygiene, or housing, or the appropriate education of girls. It has often done this driven by values rather than evidence. With that background, which has been vigorously contested, complexity appears as a moderating influence that puts the ambitions of the wealthy and socially inclined into a humbling perspective. How important can you really be in a complex world that resists your meddling?
In the philanthropic context, that can be a helpful kind of framing.
What it gives with one hand, however, it takes away with the other. Complexity may put the wealthy in their place, but as it does so, it disempowers us all. It does that because it is not a theory of power, it is a realist theory.
Realist theories can be usefully contrasted with nominalist ones. The questions both sets of theories raise are relevant to a lot of the work of policy makers and change makers because they concern the nature of our world, our understanding of it, and the effects of our descriptions and actions. In recent intellectual history, these questions have opposed social constructionists and the natural sciences. They have been played out in different ways, but nominalism and constructionism broadly assume that our descriptions have an important role in how we apprehend the world around us. Realism, however, downplays the effect of human agency in world-making.
Complexity theory is very much the heir of the science wars that were waged around social construction in the 1980s and 90s. It describes a world in which causality is probabilistic rather than linear, but still knowable; an ‘underlying’ world if you like, that operates according to rules that we — largely — do not make. It is realist, and it needs to be understood as such. It does not make space for human agency. It is a strong cocktail of Hegelian flavour, mixed with a splash of determinism.
When that cocktail is served, as it is in Lankelly Chase’s description of their new approach, alongside the lentils and wholemeal bread of social constructionist theories of power, it makes for a meal that is hard to digest.
To say this isn’t to make a pedantic point about understanding theory in its context, or with its roots in longstanding traditions of scholarship. It is to highlight why complexity theory is a bad basis for social programmes that seek to empower. It is difficult to find forms of intervention that create agency, when you embed them within a theory that doesn’t accept that agency really exists, or matters, or plays any significant part at all. This is an important part of the reason, I would argue, that Lankelly Chase have ended up with a new approach that is, well, impersonal. An approach that is centred on the ‘health of systems’, rather than the health of people. An approach that leaves no place for collective approaches to arguing for any — bounded, negotiated and always imperfect — rights, rights that describe, and make, a better world for which we can actively strive.
That is not to criticise Lankelly’s work on power structures. On the contrary. But it is to say that this part of their practice sits very uncomfortably within a set of theoretical premises that are inimical to human agency, and human action, as the basis for bringing about social change.
Theory is a hard language to master. It does a lot of useful work, even in the absence of fluency, but a bit like my Italian and Spanish, it can also let us down if we aren’t attentive to its nuances. When it is used to influence how grant making is delivered, we all have a duty to check we are using it accurately.
Comments etc in source: Dove è la complessità? – Gen Maitland Hudson – Medium
I linked to https://stream.syscoi.com/2018/06/04/lankelly-chases-approach-to-working-with-complexity-with-comments/