FYI -- see below

--- On Wed, 29/10/08, Snowden Dave <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
From: Snowden Dave <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Snowden & Cybermen
To: [log in to unmask]
Cc: [log in to unmask]
Received: Wednesday, 29 October, 2008, 6:47 PM

The problem with the word is that stems back to information processing models of the human brain, something common to a long of systems dynamics (and more generally systems thinking).   Cognitive science has moved on from that time and we now know the brain does not process information, but instead blends and activates patterns (that is a gross simplification but you get the point).  The irony is that this allows for humans to be augmented by technology, but points to natural limits in that technology.   As I have said in several of our conversations, the agenda have moved on.  We all owe a great debt to Beer et al, as quantum mechanics owes a debt to Newton.


Dave Snowden
Founder & Chief Scientific Officer
Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd

Now blogging at www.cognitive-edge.com


On 28 Oct 2008, at 12:49, R Clemens wrote:

Dr Snowden

The BBC series Dr Who has played an important part in forming the public mind over the last 40 years.

You mention not liking the word "cybernetics", and I note that one of the evil archetypal characters in the series is known as 'Cybermen'.

It has been suggested the head dress of these BBC characters looks similar to Stafford Beer's VSM diagram.  In checking the Wikipedia site I note specific mention to Norbert Weiner and also, interestingly, to a negative St Pancras crowd reaction to a public presentation of the character in the streets. (* see below)

Given your comment below "...and cybernetics (which I don't like as a word)..." do you think there is a hurdle here in expecting a neutral response from (a) people/public; (b) management; and (c) other professionals, who, like yourself may become exposed to the management cybernetics of Stafford Beer?

If so, do have any free advice to give on what might enhance contemporary 'coupling capacity' with Stafford Beer's VSM?

regards
Russell

(p.s. if you wish to respond, please email me & I will post it to the Listserv for others to read -- as we seem to have certain technical considerations in place stopping non-members submitting responses directly at this time.)

History

Conceptual history

The name "Cyberman" comes from cybernetics, a term coined in Norbert Wiener's book Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine (MIT Press, 1948). Wiener used the term in reference to the control of complex systems in the animal world and in mechanical networks, in particular self-regulating control systems. By 1960, doctors were performing research into surgically or mechanically augmenting humans or animals to operate machinery in space, leading to the coining of the term "cyborg", for "cybernetic organism".


In the 1960s, "spare-part" surgery was starting out, with the first, gigantic heart-lung machines being developed. There were also serious suggestions of wiring the nerve endings of amputees directly into machines for quicker response.[5] In 1963, Kit Pedler had a conversation with his wife (who was also a doctor) about what would happen if a person had so many prostheses that they could no longer distinguish themselves between man and machine. He got the opportunity to develop this idea when, in 1966, after an appearance on the BBC science programmes Tomorrow's World and Horizon, the BBC hired him to help on the Doctor Who serial The War Machines. That eventually led to him writing, with Gerry Davis's help, The Tenth Planet for Doctor Who.


Pedler, influenced by the logic-driven Treens from the Dan Dare comic strip, originally envisaged the Cybermen as "space monks", but was persuaded by Davis to concentrate on his fears about the direction of spare-part surgery. The original Cybermen were imagined as human, but with plastic and metal prostheses. The Cybermen of The Tenth Planet still have human hands, and their facial structures are visible beneath the masks they wear. However, over time, they evolved into metallic, more robot-like designs.


The Cybermen attracted controversy when parents complained after a scene in The Tomb of the Cybermen in which a dying Cyberman spurted white foam from its innards. Another incident was initiated by Pedler himself, who took a man in a Cyberman costume into a busy shopping area of St. Pancras. The reaction of the public was predictable, and the crowd almost blocked the street and the police were called in. Pedler said that he "wanted to know how people would react to something quite unusual," but also admitted that he "wanted to be a nuisance."[6] Pedler wrote his last Cyberman story, The Invasion, in 1968, and left Doctor Who with Gerry Davis to develop the scientific thriller series Doomwatch.

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyberman)

 

--- On Mon, 27/10/08, Snowden Dave <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
From: Snowden Dave <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Snowden
To: "Garderen, Harold van" <[log in to unmask]>
Cc: [log in to unmask], [log in to unmask]
Received: Monday, 27 October, 2008, 8:49 PM

Thanks Harold and nice to see you engaged.  I haven't got time to write an essay but a couple of points:
- I think aspects of Beer apply to the complicated domain of cynefin
- I think the complex space needs managing, its not just leaving it alone or assuming that a community of interest (more complicated) will solve it.  More techniques like SNS, but also specific actions to vary constraints and connectivity.  The difference is a solution will be emergent and unique and will not fit in a model
- Stuart (had dinner with him a few months ago) more important the V/M I think, his latest badly written book has some real insights in it.
- If Beer was around today he would be into (and would understand) complexity and cybernetics (which I don't like as a word) would be a different place
And yes, we need to do some very different things if the world is to survive in any humane form - just blogging that


Dave Snowden
Founder & Chief Scientific Officer
Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd

Now blogging at www.cognitive-edge.com


On 27 Oct 2008, at 08:40, Garderen, Harold van wrote:

Hi Russell,
 
First of all "yes" I meant "his work".
 
What I meant to say about "nestedness" is that the Cynefin model suggests that the "hard/intractible problems" are situated in the complexity domain (upper left corner, forgive me Dave :-) ) and can be treated (or at least tried to) by a group of "interested" people, a community of interest so to say. Ofcourse these people come from their respective parts/departments or groups in- or outside the organization and a such they are from different "nests", but not on the sense of "nestedness".
 
What I meant with prescribing is that Dave never/hardly? prescribes while Beer explicitely models organizations in a nested way with the resource bargain as part of the disussion while forming a lower recursion. I'm not sure it will help, as Dave seems to assume that once such a CoInterest is formed they are given the resources (f.e. time) to work on the problem.
 
Knowing the Dave is regularly involved in treating (or at least consulting for) problem that have to do with improving humanity, I have copied him in with this email. As far as I know, Dave knows about the Varela/Maturana work and about Stuart Kaufmann's work too. The latter might be as important as the last.
 
Harold


From: Forum dedicated to the work of Stafford Beer [mailto:] On Behalf Of R Clemens
Sent: zondag 26 oktober 2008 23:54
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Snowden

Dear Harold,

Thank you for this positive view. I think you are right about the potential here -- for both sides of the coin (and for humanity as well, without trying to save the world!). I will pass on the very nice term "Beer proof" (with attribution) to Dave --  I'm sure it will enter the lexicon down the track.  ;-)

With Dave, on this matter, I have used the idea of "conceptual coupling" (as per Maturana & Varela) as a reconciling of certain S5 issues in operation -- and I hypothesis, if both models/approaches are real, from real identities, then it is accord with the VSM , and polite society, to follow this route.

Question: how do you think "prescribing nested forms of organization" in Dave's work would help (a) his work; and (b) coupling?  I'm thinking of how to broach the topic with him. At the moment I've just used the term "Black box" to describe my interpretation of his way of dealing with the issue.

regards
Russell


p.s. I assume your "
I would really encourage he work to be integrated in these discussions." should read "I would really encourage his work to be integrated in these discussions."-- is this correct?

--- On Mon, 27/10/08, Garderen, Harold van <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
From: Garderen, Harold van <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Snowden
To: [log in to unmask]
Received: Monday, 27 October, 2008, 6:45 AM

Friends,
 
That is right, Dave's view is in no aspect at odds with Staffords'. That is a rare thing today. I think Dave is one of the few contemporary management thinkers that can be regarded as "Beer-proof" today. In particular his Cynefin model (see paper section of mentioned website) can be seen as covering most of the dynamic features Beer has put into the VSM.
 
On the other hand Dave's work is not so structured as Beers' VSM. Cynefin isn't prescribing nested forms of organization. In fact is doesn't say anything about organizational form whatsoever.
 
I would really encourage he work to be integrated in these discussions. Not only contentwise, but also because Dave is succesful and booming. An "integration" (hope the word doesn't convey to many wrong meanings here) could speed up the broadening of interest for the VSM in my view.
 
With kind regards,
 
Harold


From: Forum dedicated to the work of Stafford Beer [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of R Clemens
Sent: zondag 26 oktober 2008 14:17
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Snowden

Roger

If you are interested this link is Snowden speaking in Melbourne before he came through Perth recently. Careful listening will show that he covers many of the VSM aspects -- at least I cannot find any conflict with it.

http://www.cognitive-edge.com/podcasts/WS330063.mp3



--- On Sat, 25/10/08, R Clemens <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
From: R Clemens <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Snowden
To: "Forum dedicated to the work of Stafford Beer" <[log in to unmask]>
Received: Saturday, 25 October, 2008, 10:00 AM

Roger:

It is discursive and digressive and as the Irish would say (I assume): to be sure to be sure, I'd have to tell a longish story about the truth as I see it myself.

However, in summary:

Dave Snowden is a very well informed Welshman I came across in my studies of scenarios etc some years ago because of his writings on the use of narrative while he worked in IBM (through a company merger).

He is now one of the originators of the new field of Knowledge Management. He is an expert in complexity science and its application to management practice. We are trialling his approach Cynefin framework (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynefin) and software called SenseMaker at my department. (see http://www.sensemaker-suite.com/) -- e.g.

"It is a pre-hypothesis based research tool, a knowledge repository and a decision support system in one coherent package."

The approach emerges from a foundation in complex adaptive systems theory, cognitive sciences and narrative & anthropology. (http://www.sensemaker-suite.com/concept.htm)


He was in Perth for a day en-route Melbourne-Singapore, and I was host.

He appears both as academic and businessman. He has strong opinions on many things -- one of which is that Stafford Beer's model of the brain and the VSM are wrong -- or at least out of date. [There are strong S5 issues at work here]

He does not have a cybernetic or systems orientation although I need to be careful here. Ralph D Stacey (Complexity & Creativity in Organizations) would appear to be someone Snowden is aligned with. He did degrees in Philosophy & Physics.

Don't lose sleep over it. I find it interesting and useful to synergise both SB & DS views (and one or two others). I mentioned at Metaphoruim 2008 (last slide) that I/we were planning to trial SenseMaker as a follow-on from our scenario work.  After some extended email discussions (you think these are long!) - I tortured him enough to consider it theoretically possible to use his SenseMaker approach to verify the VSM hypothesis.

To try this I now need to develop the right set of signifiers (a term he uses that is more than tagging) to show there are five interwoven systems and cultures at work (i.e. S1 thru S5). I would hope for some help from people here when the time comes (and it is coming very soon now). I have an organisation of N=1,000 approx. It is most likely to be chopped into three.

p.s. I'm not selling his approach or methods or theory -- I'm testing it (a) in practice at work; and (b) in theory here with the VSM. Whereas VSM is a 'dead duck' in respect to local  management interest Snowden's approach is rapidly gaining traction. I see his SenseMaker primarily as a S3* tool -- but it also has wider application I think. I have just had two university schools (one business management/leadership and the other Sustainability policy and practice) become quite interested in his SenseMaker as a research tool.

Oh, I should add, he has a following as well! ... ;-)

If you want some samples of him speaking then try here: http://www.cognitive-edge.com/podcasts.php

--- end of discursive field notes -----



--- On Sat, 25/10/08, Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
From: Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Wikipedia and the Meaning of Truth
To: [log in to unmask]
Received: Saturday, 25 October, 2008, 2:59 AM

Russell.

I'm missing out somewhere. What is the 'Dave Snowden' stuff??

Roger
On 24 Oct 2008, at 14:24, R Clemens wrote:

Yes, I am still writing out my 10,000 lines on the blackboard: "Discursive is bad!" ... Not sure it's going to work though ... ;-)p

 

What Frank wrote, I responded to. What he meant, I can only surmise. Whether it reflects Bloor, I can only take his opinion.

 
 
 

--- WARNING: Do Not Read Further If You Wish To Avoid Discursiveness ---




 
  • Reliable Knowledge: “Statements about truth must be viewed skeptically. Rather than state something as "true," the following phrase should be used: "On the evidence available today the balance of probability favors the view that...".” ( V. Gordon Childe, Man Makes Himself, 1936)
 
  • Religious meaning of knowledge: “The Old Testament's Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil contained the knowledge that separated Man from God: "And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil… " (Genesis 3:22)”
 

(Source: both in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge)

 

Why am I there in the Wiki? Well it’s a story for another time perhaps, but, in short, well medium-long, I’ve just spent a busy day studying a strange complex species called “Dave Snowden” at work in the field – hence arriving at “Knowledge Management” is the same Wiki-reference area to quotes above (while I read this email from Frank).

 

In my opinion, what Snowden is doing is 100% cybernetics (as per autopoietic definition explained to me by Luc) and his approach – including SenseMaker – is one very powerful tool to use. Watch this space!

 

I believe it can cover audit/feedback, boundaries (or lack of them), algedonic links (which he calls disintermediation), homeostatic balance, and inter-recursive level communications issues. In fact, where as VSM gives an x-ray view, Snowden’s complexity approach is very much a ‘Blackbox’ paradigm – and management are getting very excited about it. Ultimately it is second order cybernetics applied to governance praxis. In short, he claims to synergise quantitative and qualitative methods and data – I think effectively.

 

In a note to Angela I said: “There are some identity issues between SB [ Stafford ] & DS which are natural and expected (and explained in VSM and other models/frameworks).  But this should be celebrated, not seen as a problem. If SB was the "most viable system" someone knew -- then I'd say DS must be one of the most ‘SB’ characters I know (without actually knowing SB -- rather by sensing from reading and Metaphorum derived insight).

 

If, I’m wrong then shoot me. Now back to the blackboard….

 
-- End of Discursiveness ---




--- On Fri, 24/10/08, Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
From: Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Wikipedia and the Meaning of Truth
To: [log in to unmask]
Received: Friday, 24 October, 2008, 10:45 PM

Frank, take no notice of Russell - he lives  down under - probably in the outback  - so all he understands are 'walkabouts' (including those to the pub, if my memory is correct!).

Serious point. If you look below, I don't think Frank actually said such an  absolute statement. IHe is summarising his understanding of a thesis - indeed, from the look of it (I don't know the book) quite a sensible one.

It is interesting how many of these discussions circle round (without explicitly acknowledging that they do  the objectivist/relativist debates.

The thing I keep trying to say - albeit clumsily - is that I feel that insights of cybernetic thinking and analysis overcomes many of the problems that can dog so-called 'post-modernist' discourse. 

Roger 

PS Russell, in the light of one or two previous irritated comments, I have to say I feel we are both behaving quite well about keeping stuff  terse!

On 24 Oct 2008, at 11:46, Frank wrote:

Ha ha point taken! Sloppy thinking on my part. Nonetheless Bloor makes some interesting points.
 
Regards
 
Frank Wood
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask]" target="_blank" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">R Clemens
To: [log in to unmask]" target="_blank" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2008 11:34 AM
Subject: Re: Wikipedia and the Meaning of Truth

Re: David Bloor 

The problem I have with these absolutist statements "... there is no such thing as absolute truth .. " is they are self contradictory.

I once sat through 20 minutes of indoctrination (1:1) by a supposed policy expert who's thesis was "there are no facts" -- when she'd finished I simple asked the obvious question -- "Is that a fact?" Session ended rather soon afterwards.

 

--- On Fri, 24/10/08, Frank <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
From: Frank <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Wikipedia and the Meaning of Truth
To: [log in to unmask]
Received: Friday, 24 October, 2008, 8:58 PM

Just seen the error that Barry made so don't have to make the correction now :-)
 
Kenneth Patchen said in his novel The Journal of Albion Moonlight "I do not choose my truths." I disagree. I think we choose our truths in the light of our culture and the paradigm of our times.
 
This is the point David Bloor made in his book "Knowledge and Social Imagery". My interpretation of what he said is that there is no such thing as absolute truth and that truth is dependent on the ongoing paradigm and nothing changes until the paradigm is broken and then the paradigm breakers set up the new paradigm.
 
His section The Popper-Kuhn Debate  is an interesting discussion on truth and the nature of facts.
 
This is a good overview of Bloor's stance.
 
 
Regards
 
Frank Wood
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask]" target="_blank" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">BARRY A CLEMSON
To: [log in to unmask]" target="_blank" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2008 6:27 PM
Subject: Re: Wikipedia and the Meaning of Truth

Stefan,

Thank  you. It is no wonder I was confused, I didn't see the article by Simson L Garfinkel and I thought you were talking about Frank.

Barry
On Oct 23, 2008, at 1:01 PM, Stefan Wasilewski wrote:

Barry (and Frank)

I was addressing the article of Simson L. Garfinkel itself and not Frank at all, having read the whole thing and the result was my thoughts as below.

I believe Roger replied and I agree with him (and Frank) but to reply to your thought, we should always go into something with the idea of verifying what we read.

Garfinkel is Navy and framed by his environment and this was my thrust in your point 3. I'm old enough to remember being behind the 'Wall' for long periods and talking to those of my age that sought 'truth' but who were open enough to question what was said all along the way: This attitude stayed with me.

Of the times I've had discussion with Frank it was always clear, interesting and thought provoking, I seldom now respond to anything other.

Hope this helps

Stefan


On 23 Oct 2008, at 16:46, BARRY A CLEMSON wrote:

Stefan,

I find your comments puzzling and would like clarification. 

1) It seems to me that you are saying that Frank has a grudge -- is this correct? I found his piece to be a thoughtful critique that also was quite supportive of Wikipedia.

2) You say (and I agree) it is up to each of us to verify the facts we seek. What Frank pointed out very nicely is that we might be blindsided by our unexamined assumptions. And if we are not even aware of our assumptions (which is often the case) we are quite thoroughly trapped by them and unable to check our facts.

3) i saw no hint of a suggestion to prefer "the current filtering of information and the writing of history by the winners". Rather I saw support for Wikipedia. Where did this come from?

4) Perhaps I am merely clueless but I don't see how his specific profession provides any clue to his viewpoint.

Please help me out here.

Barry


On Oct 23, 2008, at 11:01 AM, Stefan Wasilewski wrote:

I generally find that people who criticise but don't offer an alternative have a grudge and therefore to be put in one box to be balanced as others are likewise accessed.

Surely it's up to each and every one of us to verify the facts we seek and in doing so learn accordingly: Nothing should be taken on face value.

Would he prefer the current filtering of information and the writing of history by the winners to remain as our only sources?

His profession should give a clue to viewpoint.

Stefan
  
On 23 Oct 2008, at 13:24, Frank wrote:

Dear Listm
 
Any comments?
 
Regards
 
Frank Wood
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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 ---

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===================================================

BARRY A CLEMSON

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--







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