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Gregory Mills

When considering how to relate systems thinking and design, the majority of systemic design approaches use concepts from the study of complex systems to guide design practice at the level of large-scale human organisation, as systems thinking offers principled methods for articulating and tackling emergent complexity within and between interacting systems, in particular social systems that are embedded within larger and larger systems. Systems theory shows that at each scale of analysis, much like a fractal, new complex, emergent phenomena come into view.

However, in addition to being ideal for zooming out to larger and larger social systems, dynamical systems theory is perhaps even better suited for zooming in to uncover the systems out of which a larger system emerges. For example, systems analysis of an organisation will reveal its emergence out of multiple interactions between multiple (sub-)organisations, which in turn emerge out of multiple interactions between different parties, that in turn emerge out of individual interactions in a variety of contexts, which in turn emerge out of rich, multimodal, cognitive, often mediated social processes, and so on. Crucially, as the magnification is increased, the complexity also does not necessarily decrease; Language is the prime example of a complex adaptive system (Steels, 2000; Ellis et al., 2009).

Based on these insights, this talk explores how increasing (as opposed to decreasing) the magnification on social systems, i.e. zooming in on the mechanisms of language emergence at the micro-interactional, conversational level, yields valuable, practical guidelines for the design and evaluation of mediated technologies, and also yields promising methods for the evaluation of design practice.

 KEYWORDS:  Miscommunication, collaboration, computer-supported collaborative work, emergence

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Citation Data

Author(s): Gregory Mills
Year: 2023
Title: Designing for emergence and (mis)communication
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
URL: https://rsdsymposium.org/gregory-mills
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Kingston, UK
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 10 July 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404