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UCD-STAFFORDBEER  October 2008

UCD-STAFFORDBEER October 2008

Subject:

language and models - some thoughts

From:

Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Forum dedicated to the work of Stafford Beer <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 7 Oct 2008 11:43:33 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (69 lines)

One of my first published papers was called 'The languaging of
models'. So I have a personal interest in this.

I also happen to have been involved over the last year or so in a
project to do with building a 3D version of the model with a real-time
engine. If anyone is interested in this, the client for the work he
work is  MZSG, and the contact person is Martin Pfiffner.

Anyway, I am here to advertise this work, but it has nudged to light
certain issues to do with the 'languaging of models'.

At first sight, it would appear that nay conceptual model must benefit
from visual representation, and remember spending fascinating times
with Stafford, talking about how software tools would allow a far more
coherent and compelling presentation of the model. And, as you are
talking about any particular aspect of the model - such as ladders of
recursion - you can generate wonderfully powerful 'images' and
insights, as to what might constitute such a (imagined) representation.

Now the really interesting thing is that the power of the human mind
to abstractly imagine and share such insights is perhaps greater that
(certainly different from) visual forms. It might well be true that a
'picture tells a million stories', but it is also and more powerfully
true that a 'story tells a million picture'.  As we all know, from
example in literature - whether novels, plays, poems - each of us can
have an indisputably powerful, yet personally unique, insight into any
work of literature. That is the power (and, of course, weakness) of
language.

As different technologies and tools bring to us the possibility of
braiding together different forms of expression (such as images,
sounds, words), we have to be far more mature and sophisticated in our
thinking about communication.

The diagrammatic format for the VSM undoubtably presented a unique
quality to the body of thinking, especially in terms of other
literature aimed at the same market. And, after having ploughed
through 'Decision and Control' , this convention presented one with an
enormous sense of relief at how it summaries and encapsulated many of
the ideas of Decision and Control, and developed copntemoraneously by
people such as Gordon Pask, Humberto Maturana, William Powers, Heinz
von Foerster, to name but a few.

But this sense of release, might also have signalled a caution.
Because it might be most relevant and valid for those already steeped
in the abstract ideas, for whom it provided a summary and
encapsulation. However, perhaps, for those not so steeped in the
intellectual background, the diagramatic form CANNOT be an
encapsulation, because, unless you are familiar with that background,
there is no encapsulationg going on!

Indeed, perhaps in overly using the diagramatic form to attempt to
disemminate the ideas and communicate the model, the danger is that
one is using a set of tools that is too stark for the job-in-hand.

Just some thoughts..........


Roger

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