📚 node [[systems literacy]]
📕 text contributed by @neil 🔗 ️👁 ️📝

systems literacy

systems literacy can help us manage messes.

[[A Systems Literacy Manifesto]]

A good working vocabulary in systems includes around 150 terms.

[[A Systems Literacy Manifesto]]

It begins with learning:

  • [[system]], environment, boundary
  • process, transform function
  • stocks, flows, delay (lag)
  • source, sink
  • information (signal, message)
  • open-loop, closed-loop
  • goal (threshold, set-point)
  • feedback, feed-forward
  • [[positive feedback]], negative feedback
  • reinforcing, dampening
  • viscous cycle, virtuous cycle
  • circular processes, circularity, resource cycle
  • explosion, collapse, oscillation (hunting)
  • stability, invariant organization
  • balancing, dynamic equilibrium, homeostasis
  • [[tragedy of the commons]]

[[A Systems Literacy Manifesto]]

As students progress, they learn:

  • behavior (action, task), measurement
  • range, resolution, frequency
  • sensor, comparator, actuator (effector)
  • servo-mechanism, governor
  • current state, desired state
  • error, detection, correction
  • disturbances, responses
  • controlled variable, command signal
  • control, communication
  • teleology, purpose
  • goal-directed, self-regulating
  • co-ordination, regulation
  • static, dynamic
  • first order, second order
  • essential variables
  • variety, “[[requisite variety]]
  • transformation (table)

[[A Systems Literacy Manifesto]]

More advanced students learn:

  • dissipative system
  • [[emergence]]
  • [[autopoiesis]]
  • constructivism
  • recursion
  • observer, observed
  • controller, controlled
  • agreement, (mis-)understanding
  • “an agreement over an understanding”
  • learning, conversation
  • bio-cost, bio-gain
  • back-talk
  • structure, organization
  • co-evolution, drift
  • black box
  • explanatory principle
  • “organizational closure”
  • self-reference, reflexive
  • ethical imperative
  • structural coupling
  • “consensual co-ordination of consensual co-ordination”
  • “conservation of a manner of living”

[[A Systems Literacy Manifesto]]

One course, 3 hours per week for 15 weeks is a bare minimum for a survey of systems thinking. Ideal would be three, semester-long courses

[[A Systems Literacy Manifesto]]

  1. Introduction to Systems (covering systems dynamics, regulation, and requisite variety—with readings including Capra’s new [[The Systems View of Life]], Meadows’ [[Thinking in Systems]], and Ashby’s [[An Introduction to Cybernetics]]);

  2. Second-Order Systems (covering observing systems, autopoiesis, learning, and ethics—with readings including Glanville’s “[[Second-order Cybernetics]],” von Foerster’s “[[Ethics and Second-order Cybernetics]],” and Maturana + Davila’s “[[Systemic and Meta Systemic Laws]]”); and

  3. Systems for Conversation (covering co-evolution, co-ordination, and collaboration—with readings including, Pangaro’s “[[What is conversation?]],” Pask’s “[[The Limits of Togetherness]],” Beer’s [[Decision and Control]], and Maturana’s “[[Metadesign]]”).

[[A Systems Literacy Manifesto]]

person with basic systems literacy should be fluent with these patterns: resource flows and cycles; transform functions (processes); feedback loops (both positive and negative); feed-forward; requisite variety (meeting disturbances within a specified range); second-order feedback (learning systems); and goal-action trees (or webs).

Resources

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📖 stoas (collaborative spaces) for [[systems literacy]]