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UCD-STAFFORDBEER  December 2008

UCD-STAFFORDBEER December 2008

Subject:

little rant prompted by Stefan, though in thread with Frank

From:

Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Fri, 5 Dec 2008 12:06:27 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (458 lines)

Frank, I think it is all tangled up with concepts  like 'paradigms,  
'dominant logic', 'horizon'.

And the systemic tendency in our modern form of capitalism then  
dominates and seeks to claim any middle ground in its imposition of  
things like 'political correctness' , 'freedom', democracy, 'equality'  
all of which then become denatured, leaving the individuals who  
genuinely aspire towards living such values, adrift.

For a concrete example (and I'll make an effort to contain my own  
sliding into jargon, here):

A lot of us are old enough  to remember those debates in the seventies  
and eighties about the nature of future work and leisure; the impact  
of ever increasing automation etc. We all did our bit of reading of  
Toffler, Barry Sherman, Giles Merritt etc. And I, for one (because I  
am intrinsically the sort of lost spirit to which Stefan refers),  
genuinely looked forward to a future in which time spent on paid work  
became less and time spent on leisure (unpaid work) became more.  
Because, I intuited that the SURPLUS created by the excess would not  
flow into unregulated money markets and service industries created  
specifically to soak up such excess, but would flow towards what I  
call HUMAN values - welfare, education, health, sustainable  
development, dissemination of wealth world-wide.

The truly shocking thing to me in the current crisis, is that we have  
all been made aware of the fantastically enormous scale of that money  
squirrelled away into a more-or-less closed system, called 'the  
markets' 9which, ironiocally, are nothing to do with our traditional  
view of markets, in which people of all sorts came together socially,  
to present and exchange goods and services to one another. As we all  
now know, automation did in fact generate enormous surplus,. It is now  
real (not speculative) and in amounts far exceeding what we then  
dreamt, or what anyone has been telling citizens. And, as we have come  
to witness the real scale of these accrued surplus' it is truly  
horrific and INHUMAN to see what a small ration would be needed to  
revolutionise many many aspects of many many societies world-wide, as  
well as our own. But this is still treated as a 'blindspot' in our  
social and economic discourse.

So in fact what we have in terms of our economic social organisation,  
is formal social organisations becoming filled with more and more  
people (even though, historically speaking there are less and less  
employees), doing increasingly overlapping tasks. Organisations are  
becoming ever more SPONGY, unaccountable and inhuman. The  
unaccountability is because (just like the unaccounted and invisible  
funds) no one wants to expose the SPONGINESS (think of baby P etc).

And, so we are in an economic climate where everyone (in whatever  
profession) feels the need to work harder and harder, yet cover more  
and more things, and do worse and worse at their core job, because  
they are spread so thin - instead of a situation -0surely more human -  
in which people are able to spend more focused time on their core  
occupation because more people are employed to take account of the  
variety of tasks needing to be done well in a coordinated fashion.

At the same time, we have NO increase in LEISURE time - though we do  
have  a massive increase in LEISURE SPEND.

So, Stefan, my Karma might have been bad, but so has been the karma  
for our present economic, social national and international systems.

And, Frank, I do not think this is confronting cybernetics with an  
insurmountable challenge, because I think it can be captured  
(indicated - GSB)_ and defined (distinguished - GSB), and addressed  
through various aspects of cybernetic thinking. Once more, the issue  
of the impact of cybernetics is, more, I believe to do with our  
confidence as to our identity, and a more clearly ennunciated message  
(inside our community and outside to the world) about what we actually  
DO. This concerns languaging, as we have variously talked about over  
the years, including the specific terms used, for example, about the  
various VSM systems.

Roger
On 4 Dec 2008, at 23:39, Frank wrote:

> Roger,
> thanks for a powerful and interesting reply.
>
> There's not much more that I can add to it.
>
> I suppose on one level when I wade through the academese I see  
> myself as outside but when I'm writing as here, I see myself as  
> inside. Although I may come across as critical of academese, I'm  
> critical in the context of is there going to be steps to get  
> cybernetics out to businesses and businessmen?
>
> Maybe it's a case of a ferment. Where something practical emerges  
> out of the theorising and then this is taken to the "masses" so to  
> speak. By practical I mean something that can be used by consultants  
> as they implement the principles of cybernetics.
>
> But of course there will be massive problems. Organisation man will  
> not take kindly to cybernetics. Take the Law of Requisite Variety.  
> It's true that knowledge is power. In this case knowledge of the  
> processes of an organisation is also responsibility. Which means  
> that when something ends in disaster no one can say "I didn't know  
> what was happening". So proper controls a la Law of Requisite  
> Variety will be fiercely resisted by all, right down to the shop  
> floor.
>
> Regards
>
> Frank
>
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Roger Harnden" <[log in to unmask] 
> >
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2008 11:52 AM
> Subject: Metaphorum Identity - outside and inside
>
>
> Frank,
>
> I think this relates to Javier's words on S3/S4 activities of the
> Metaphorum community. As he indicates, RH is clearly S4, and has
> littler interest unless forced, in moving from that identity. The only
> problem is that there needs to be further S3 input - not that RH S4
> ceases or becomes S3. And I think you are proposing the need for that
> in a particular domain (in other words, in some such thing as
> LISTSERVE).
>
> Your comparison may or may not be apposite, and as we have both
> indicated it might be tackled by one of two main ways:
>
> 1. clearer, more accessible language
> 2. a different listserve.
>
> However, a real issue, indicated by this very interaction between
> myself and you, is that the advise (from you) is advice from outside,
> as it were. In other words, though participating you are adopting the
> position of an outsider to something that HAS insiders. This is a
> fascinating issue of Boundaries (which Russell has commented on in a
> somewhat different context in the wiki).
>
> Because, over the months and years, this sort of mixed dialogue has
> been quite regular. Now I don't know whether this is characteristic of
> this sort of forum. or pathological (in other words) indicating
> something wrong with this particular forum). You are talking with me
> as if I am an INSIDER, but, Frank, I am talking with you as also an
> INSIDER. This is a fascinating instance of the play of structure and
> organisation in practice (M&V). The shifting configurations of
> structure in this instance are individuals coming and going, and
> through their coming and going and recurrent interactions, coupling
> Metaphorum to a niche (that itself is instanced by individuals coming
> and going). However, for the OBSERVER (in this case RH and FW) there
> is a meta-level coupling (In Pasks's language CONVERSATION) in which
> the two individuals CHOOSE their operational reality in a Spencer
> Brown manner. In this first instance, you are Choosing outside
> Metaphorum which has RH as inside; but I am choosing inside Metaphorum
> as including FW).
>
> For those practitioners amongst us, this should be quite valuable and
> interesting in indicating new tools and methods, because, guys, it
> goes on all the time in terms of social organisations which are in
> some shape or form 'organisationally' closed, but 'informationally'
> open.
>
> So there's a good old paradox. Are you in or are you out? Is RH in or
> is he out?
>
> Now, for me (and I am not saying this is the case for others) the
> present LISTSERVE should service this ambiguity, because that domain
> of uncertainty is at the heart of any learning domain. But you are
> 100% correct, that a learning domain is very different from a sales or
> marketing domain.
>
> Roger
>
> On 3 Dec 2008, at 23:57, Roger Harnden wrote:
>
>> Yes,
>>
>> I suppose what I am saying is that there should be another space   
>> that IS explicitly outward facing, but that LISTSERVE members have   
>> access to for their outwardfacingness.
>>
>> Or doesn't that make sense?
>> Roger
>> On 3 Dec 2008, at 23:23, Frank wrote:
>>
>>> Roger,
>>> agreed. I was on the Complex-M listserv for some years. It was   
>>> intimate and personal and we had our rows like any family :-) and   
>>> it was a great mix of professioanals, academics and managers and  
>>> we  for the most part all spoke in a clear language and those  
>>> that  didn't were from time to time pulled up on it.
>>>
>>> I'm not quite sure what you mean by "a platform for individuals to  
>>> launch themselves."
>>>
>>> Unless you are going to plan a separate listserv along the above   
>>> line you will not get much interest from business. IMO anyway.
>>>
>>> Frank
>>>
>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Roger Harnden" <[log in to unmask]
>>> >
>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>> Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 11:15 PM
>>> Subject: Re: Toward a viable economy #2
>>>
>>>
>>> Frank
>>>
>>> Should Listseve be that 'outward facing' space? Isn't and shouldn't
>>> LISTSERVE be something more intimate and personal, but provide the
>>> platform for individuals to launch themselves?
>>>
>>> ROger
>>> On 3 Dec 2008, at 23:01, Frank wrote:
>>>
>>>> I think it was John Warfield that spoke of context, content and  
>>>> process. So which comes first?
>>>>
>>>> Will the content determine the context and process?
>>>>
>>>> Will the context determine the content and process?
>>>>
>>>> Will the process determine the content and context?
>>>>
>>>> As regards a new Listserv, could it be a place where everything  
>>>> is discussed in clear English? The reason being that in order  
>>>> to   succeed in this project we need to be able to attract  
>>>> businessmen  at  all levels.
>>>>
>>>> Regards
>>>>
>>>> Frank
>>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "BARRY A CLEMSON" <[log in to unmask]
>>>> >
>>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 10:04 PM
>>>> Subject: Toward a viable economy #2
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> The big question is “how do we get cybernetic control systems  
>>>> into  the
>>>> discussion for reforming the world financial system?”
>>>>
>>>> All of us, me too, have been pretty much wringing our hands “woe is
>>>> me” I don’t know how to get anybody to listen. Enough of that   
>>>> crap. I
>>>> don’t want to have to tell my grandchildren that I didn’t try.
>>>>
>>>> We need to systematically see whom we can recruit to build  
>>>> support  for
>>>> this effort. There are two different levels of support we can  
>>>> ask  for:
>>>>
>>>> 1) the world needs management cybernetics, or, as a fall-back   
>>>> position
>>>> 2) the insights of cybernetics/systems/feedback loops provide   
>>>> powerful
>>>> tools for designing regulatory systems that would be far superior  
>>>> to
>>>> what we have now.
>>>>
>>>> Clearly we would like people to stand up and say we need management
>>>> cybernetics. But there are a lot of super-stars out there (Russell
>>>> Ackoff, Peter Senge, Jay Forrester, John Warfield) who will   
>>>> certainly
>>>> support the second and that would be a big step.
>>>>
>>>> We have at least a couple of months before people start seriously
>>>> thinking about what sort of controls should be put into place on  
>>>> the
>>>> global financial system. For at least a few months everyone will be
>>>> too busy trying to put out fires to even think about a new control
>>>> system.
>>>>
>>>> Crises bring out both the best and worst in people. Therefore,   
>>>> hoping
>>>> for the best, I think we should try to think of superstars that we
>>>> might possibly enlist in our campaign. The worst that will happen  
>>>> is
>>>> that they will say no.
>>>>
>>>> I have been out of academia for ten years so I am woefully out of
>>>> date, but here is my initial brainstorm of people we should try to
>>>> enlist:
>>>>
>>>> Russell Ackoff
>>>> Peter Senge
>>>> Jay Forrester
>>>> Jay Forrester, Jr, some years back was head of research for a  
>>>> big  oil
>>>> company and was doing System Dynamics for them
>>>> Chuck Keating, former president of Engineering Management  
>>>> Society  and
>>>> my PhD student and later my colleague.
>>>> Bill Reckmeyer has lots of contacts all over the place
>>>> John Sutherland
>>>> Stuart Umpleby has a very effective laid back style that encourages
>>>> people to try new things and Stuart is in DC
>>>> Gordon Pask’s old contacts in the US military
>>>> Warren Buffet (yes, that Buffet)
>>>> George Soros (was once supportive of Friedman and later became
>>>> critical of him)
>>>> Paul Krugman, nobel laureate in Economics and NYTimes columnist
>>>>
>>>> Now, I have a couple of suggestions for your consideration (please
>>>> improve upon all of this – I consider everything I have said  
>>>> here  as a
>>>> starting point that I hope the rest of you will chew up and   
>>>> improve).
>>>> That said, I suggest:
>>>>
>>>> - a new list serve dedicated to trying to 1) get these ideas  
>>>> into  the
>>>> conversation and 2) designing the outlines of a new control system
>>>>
>>>> - everyone of us should brainstorm possible allies to get the ideas
>>>> considered. Then we should all help think about how to contact  
>>>> these
>>>> people. For instance, I know Ackoff but haven’t spoken to him in   
>>>> more
>>>> than 20 years so I am unlikely to be the best one to approach him).
>>>>
>>>> Barry
>>>>
>>>> Oh, boy. Fear and trembling. I feel like Gandalf confronting the
>>>> balrog: "I'm already tired"
>>>>
>>>> ===================================================
>>>>
>>>> BARRY A CLEMSON
>>>> [log in to unmask]
>>>>
>>>> 757-692-6673
>>>>
>>>> Cybernetica Press at www.cyberneticapress.com
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> "It's not how much you do - it's how much love you put in it.... Do
>>>> small things with great love."
>>>>         --- Mother Teresa ---
>>>>
>>>> The true warrior may be killed, but he can not be defeated.
>>>> --- my paraphrase of Sensei Hamada ---
>>>>
>>>> And peace rolled down like a mighty river.
>>>>    -- Inspired by the prophet Amos 5:24--
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> "An enemy is a person whose story we have not heard."
>>>>        -- Gene Knudsen Hoffman --
>>>>
>>>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>>> For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
>>>>
>>>> For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE) go  
>>>> to: www.platformforchange.org
>>>>
>>>> METAPHORUM eList Archive available at - https://listserv.heanet.ie/ucd-staffordbeer.html
>>>>
>>>> Archive of CYBCOM eList available at - http://hermes.circ.gwu.edu/archives/cybcom.html
>>>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> ---
>>>> avast! Antivirus: Inbound message clean.
>>>> Virus Database (VPS): 081203-0, 03/12/2008
>>>> Tested on: 03/12/2008 22:27:18
>>>> avast! - copyright (c) 1988-2008 ALWIL Software.
>>>> http://www.avast.com
>>>>
>>>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>>> For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
>>>>
>>>> For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE) go  
>>>> to: www.platformforchange.org
>>>>
>>>> METAPHORUM eList Archive available at - https://listserv.heanet.ie/ucd-staffordbeer.html
>>>>
>>>> Archive of CYBCOM eList available at - http://hermes.circ.gwu.edu/archives/cybcom.html
>>>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>>>
>>>
>>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>> For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
>>>
>>> For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE) go to: www.platformforchange.org
>>>
>>> METAPHORUM eList Archive available at - https://listserv.heanet.ie/ucd-staffordbeer.html
>>>
>>> Archive of CYBCOM eList available at - http://hermes.circ.gwu.edu/archives/cybcom.html
>>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>>
>>>
>>> ---
>>> avast! Antivirus: Inbound message clean.
>>> Virus Database (VPS): 081203-0, 03/12/2008
>>> Tested on: 03/12/2008 23:17:51
>>> avast! - copyright (c) 1988-2008 ALWIL Software.
>>> http://www.avast.com
>>>
>>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>> For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
>>>
>>> For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE) go to: www.platformforchange.org
>>>
>>> METAPHORUM eList Archive available at - https://listserv.heanet.ie/ucd-staffordbeer.html
>>>
>>> Archive of CYBCOM eList available at - http://hermes.circ.gwu.edu/archives/cybcom.html
>>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>>
>>
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>> For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
>>
>> For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE) go to: www.platformforchange.org
>>
>> METAPHORUM eList Archive available at - https://listserv.heanet.ie/ucd-staffordbeer.html
>>
>> Archive of CYBCOM eList available at - http://hermes.circ.gwu.edu/archives/cybcom.html
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>
>
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
>
> For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE) go to: www.platformforchange.org
>
> METAPHORUM eList Archive available at - https://listserv.heanet.ie/ucd-staffordbeer.html
>
> Archive of CYBCOM eList available at - http://hermes.circ.gwu.edu/archives/cybcom.html
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>
>
> ---
> avast! Antivirus: Inbound message clean.
> Virus Database (VPS): 081203-0, 03/12/2008
> Tested on: 04/12/2008 19:21:03
> avast! - copyright (c) 1988-2008 ALWIL Software.
> http://www.avast.com
>
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
>
> For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE) go to:  www.platformforchange.org
>
> METAPHORUM eList Archive available at - https://listserv.heanet.ie/ucd-staffordbeer.html
>
> Archive of CYBCOM eList available at - http://hermes.circ.gwu.edu/archives/cybcom.html
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org

For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE) go to:  www.platformforchange.org

METAPHORUM eList Archive available at - https://listserv.heanet.ie/ucd-staffordbeer.html

Archive of CYBCOM eList available at - http://hermes.circ.gwu.edu/archives/cybcom.html
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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