[OSList] Summer research project idea: 'self organisation'
John Baxter via OSList
oslist at lists.openspacetech.org
Sun Nov 30 22:41:38 PST 2014
*breathe in* *breathe out*
Thank you everyone for you contributions.
What is emerging for me is a sense of 'space' for potential research.
- There is the historic space... what people have written about self org .
Some great refs there and definitely 'in scope'.
- There is the fringe space... how have methods of organisation intersected
with and drawn on 'self org'. Not sure whether the ecology references are
fringe or historic... a bit of both perhaps.
- There is a structure to the space of 'self org', with fuzzy boundaries,
internal patterns, different characteristics and qualities within the space.
(I suppose there is also the space of the emerging future, but I think this
may not be that sort of research!)
Perhaps this is obvious for others who have trodden this path before, but
for me this is all learning.
My current reading list and interest lies mostly with the second of these
three, because I sense there is such wealth there that is yet to be
incorporated into communities like this. This discussion has highlighted,
though, that there is more to the history that I need to be across, and
that there are many useful questions within this community in the space of
the third of these three.
I'm not sure what that means yet, for what I might do this summer.
I do think I can conclude so far
1. there is definite merit in such research, and though I'm not sure where
the best focus is, the responses here are congruent enough with my prior
thinking that I should forge ahead (knowing, that as my effort gets more
concrete and specific it will please fewer and fewer!)... though also with
enough 'left field' suggestions that I clearly don't really have my head
around the options
2. "who should be involved" - essentially me for now, as nobody has jumped
at the possibility of joining me in responsibility for the endeavour
(unless I missed it! oops! do let me know if so!), but I will certainly not
be alone as long as the OSList is within reach
3. I should make more effort to respond to OSList in consciousness of email
length constraints! (Gmail hides all of that... out of mind!)
Okay... now back to it!
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On Mon, Dec 1, 2014 at 12:37 PM, R Chaffe via OSList <
oslist at lists.openspacetech.org> wrote:
> Thank you Harrison. The vital part of the process is that we are part of
> it! Just as Darwin encouraged us to look at the origin of species in a
> different way (Newtonian physics) so does Richard Dawkins "The selfish
> gene" first in its original form then in Dawkins' explanation in the past
> few years of "selfish" - the difference between domination and being
> successful in one's self.(almost quantum physics)
> I believe Dawkins' recent work tells us a lot about how systems work.
> Remembering that history is almost always told by the victors or
> "successful" survivors. Dawkins' work also provides one view into the role
> of the facilitator and the perturbance of the current order that allows a
> different form of the organisms in the system to thrive.
> I can but encourage a closer look at the natural system, as we are a part
> of it despite the fact that many believe that they are not because
> humankind has moved beyond....... I don't think so! I also suggest that
> we can look at the succession of success for the perspective of the
> unsuccessful (at the time) and reflect on how the intellectual capital can
> so easily be lost ( e.g. The indigenous peoples of the Americas). Also
> how fragile systems can be especially when Humankind wilfully exploits the
> system beyond its capacity to renew or sustain itself. ( fossil fuels, the
> passenger pigeon............)
> Yes I look forward to the results of the research.
> On 1 Dec 2014, at 4:41 am, Harrison Owen via OSList <
> oslist at lists.openspacetech.org> wrote:
> Kari – I totally agree with your congratulatory note to Dan for having
> introduced ecology to our discussion. Thinking about self organization in
> the abstract gets pretty fuzzy, and limiting the conversation to OST is
> ...limiting. But seen in a broader context (the biosphere), things become
> quite juicy and exciting, I think. For example, it has often occurred to me
> that you could look at “The Origin of the Species” as an early treatise on
> self organization. It is quite unlikely that Darwin would have recognized
> the terms (self organization), but the story he tells is a rich description
> of the natural self organizing world. To be sure there are some holes in
> his description, leading to no small amount of debate in the years
> following publication, but the basic story line is pretty clear to me –
> given a rich diversity stressed internally and externally by environmental
> forces, wonderful things emerge. And there wasn’t an executive committee in
> If this story happens to be a remotely accurate description of the natural
> world of living creatures, I find it very hard to understand how it could
> be that creatures lately arrived, namely us, could be excluded. The notion
> that all human systems are essentially self organizing, therefore is not a
> strange one. What would be strange is the suggestion that we had somehow
> escaped what is apparently a fundamental rule of the Biosphere. Your
> comment ... “I see that there is selfe-organization at work all the time”
> therefore is not only spot on – it is actually a blinding flash of the
> obvious. Well done!
> I joke, but with serious intent. When doing our research it is most
> important not only to understand what we are looking at (re-searching), but
> also and equally importantly, how we see it. The object of our affection
> would seem to be organizations, particularly human ones. But how do we view
> them? I think it fair to say that the “standard” view point considers
> organizations to be creatures of our making. We designed, control, and run
> them. Full stop. That there may be an additional phenomenon called “self
> organization” is admitted as a possible, but never to be confused with the
> reality of organization in the human sphere.
> An alternative view sees human systems as a (minor) subset of all natural
> systems, possessing certain distinguishing characteristics for sure, but
> never the less woven out of the same cloth and sharing all the fundamental
> features, including self organization.
> Doubtless what I have said above seems some less than revolutionary and no
> more than you might have expected from me. Some might even accuse me of
> being rather a broken record, if you are old enough to remember such things
> (broken records). But my purpose in repeating myself is to starkly contrast
> the two viewpoints – which constitute (I think) totally different
> paradigms. And if Thomas Kuhn is correct in his analysis, the distance
> between two paradigms is enormous to the point that what makes sense in one
> paradigm is understood to be totally crazy in the other. One immediate
> impact of all this is that mutual understanding between those holding one
> paradigm or the other is minimal, to say the least.
> The classic case, or course are the paradigms represented by Newtonian
> Physics and Quantum Mechanics. For those anchored in the Newtonian world
> (which would be most of us)—the world of the Quantum is weird, crazy,
> impossible ... Nuts. And communication between those enthralled by one
> paradigm and the others is challenging at best and may be downright
> impossible. There are multiple reasons, but one is that each paradigm has
> its own unique logic derived from the unique “first principles” of the
> respective paradigms. The Newtonian world is orderly and predictable. The
> Quantum world is random and indeterminate. One could say, “Different
> strokes for different folks,” and the bridges across the divide are
> difficult to find.
> The connections with the “conversation” between Newton and the Quantum
> theorists and our adventure are more than a simple analogue, I think...
> but all that would be the subject of a much longer essay. However, I think
> the lessons regarding the pains and perils of paradigm hopping are very
> apropos. It ain’t easy. I occurs to me that the fact that the academic
> community has generally (totally?) avoided Open Space Technology may well
> be a good example of the problem. With the standard paradigm installed as
> the dominant view in Academe, OST is crazy and makes no sense. And crazy
> nonsense is best ignored.
> So on with our re-search! And I think it will be critical to the venture
> to constantly remind ourselves what we are looking at, and how we see. It
> will be fun.
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> *From:* OSList [mailto:oslist-bounces at lists.openspacetech.org
> <oslist-bounces at lists.openspacetech.org>] *On Behalf Of *Kári Gunnarsson
> via OSList
> *Sent:* Friday, November 28, 2014 11:52 AM
> *To:* Daniel Mezick; World wide Open Space Technology email list
> *Subject:* Re: [OSList] Summer research project idea: 'self organisation'
> This is a good idea Daniel
> To use material from ecology. I like it. I even went online to search for
> some Journal articles that talk about the different cultural aspect with
> intervention programs. There is a Critical Review on two grand intervention
> by Blaikie and Muldavin (2014) one in the eastern Himalayas and the other
> across the border in eastern India.
> As I was reading this, I see that there is selfe-organization at work all
> the time. At one instance the work happened in harmony and flexibility with
> the imposed system and in the other instance the self-organization happened
> despite the system ridged closed and toxic structure and undermined its
> interventions objectives.
> Blaikie P and Muldavin J (2014). Environmental justice? The story of two
> projects. Geoforum 54. 226–229. (
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