Self-organizing a strange attractor

Harold Nelson

Systems are complex, designing is complex. Systemic designing is even more complex. Complexity is not a negative condition. In fact, it is a necessary thing if the full richness and potential of anything are to be realized. Giving order and form to systemic design is an analogue to self-organizing a strange attractor[1]. Forcing form onto the complex milieu of systemic designing doesn’t work. Forms that work in other contexts—e.g. art, science, and the humanities—are ill-fitted when pulled over systemic designing. A more tailored form will take shape through a process of self-organization—a type of dialogue that gives order and form to complex things.

In this keynote, I will talk about a few of the habits of thought that hinder the initiation and flow of this self-organizing dialogue and will propose some new habits that would support it. I will give examples from the keynotes, conversations and presentation from the Symposium that are supportive of self-organizing[2] behavior.

[1] An attractor is a set of properties toward which a system tends to evolve, regardless of the initial conditions of the system.

[2]Self-organization is a process where some form of global order or coordination arises out of the local interactions between diverse components of an inchoate system.

Posted: Oct-2014

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