68 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Systems and Cybernetics about their New Books

New Books in Systems and Cybernetics Marshall Poe

    • Science

Interviews with Scholars of Systems and Cybernetics about their New Books

    Ray Ison, "Systems Practice: How to Act In Situations of Uncertainty and Complexity in a Climate-Change World" (Springer, 2017)

    Ray Ison, "Systems Practice: How to Act In Situations of Uncertainty and Complexity in a Climate-Change World" (Springer, 2017)

    While various systems theories have received rigorous treatments across the literature of the field, reliable and robust advice for systems practice can be somewhat harder to come by. Ray Ison has done much to remedy this state of affairs through his deeply theoretically grounded yet eminently practical book: Systems Practice: How to Act In Situations of Uncertainty and Complexity in a Climate-Change World which was reprinted by Springer in 2017. 
    After first drawing a distinction between metaphors and the much less well-known notion of isophors, Ison builds a conception of the systems practitioners work around his central isophor of The Juggler. For Ison, the systems practitioner must keep four essential balls in the air. These are (1) the B-ball which concerns the attributes of Being a practitioner with a particular tradition of understanding; (2) the E-ball which concerns the characteristics ascribed to the ‘real-world’ situation that the juggler is Engaging with; (3) the C-ball which concerns the act of contextualising a particular approach to a new situation, and; (4) the M-ball which is about how the practitioner is Managing their overall performance in a situation. Interspersed with extensive excerpts from a wide array of systems practitioners such as Donella Meadows, Russ Ackoff and beyond, Ison blends cybernetics and systems in a rare and deft manner, and his thoughtful book, underwritten by years of fieldwork, makes a significant contribution to the systems literature by asking, in his own words, “What do we do when we do what we do?” The answers are as illuminating as the lively conversation we had about this book.
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    • 1 hr 5 min
    Anthony Hodgson, "Systems Thinking for a Turbulent World" (Part 2) (Routledge, 2020)

    Anthony Hodgson, "Systems Thinking for a Turbulent World" (Part 2) (Routledge, 2020)

    This is the second episode of a two-part conversation with Hodgson, and in it we pick up our conversation on anticipatory systems and the role they play in ‘decision integrity’. Hodgson then talks about the second half of the book which focuses on “developing latent capacities beyond the analytical rational” and offers possibilities for more enlightened co-creation in these hyper-turbulent times.
    In the view of Anthony Hodgson, fragmentation of local and global societies is escalating, and this is aggravating vicious cycles. To heal the rifts, Hodgson believes we need to reintroduce the human element into our understandings – whether the context is civic or scientific – and strengthen truth-seeking in decision-making; and that the application of appropriate concepts and methods, will enable a switch from reaction to anticipation, even in the face of discontinuous change and high uncertainty. The intended outcome is the privileging of the positive human skills for collaborative navigation through uncertainty over the disjointed rationality of mechanism and artificial intelligence, which increasingly alienates us.
    In Systems Thinking for a Turbulent World: A Search for New Perspectives out from Routledge in 2020, Hodgson’s readers are introduced to concepts new to systems thinking that integrate systems thinking and futures thinking. Guiding readers through the unfolding of the ideas and practices with a narrative based on the metaphor of search portrayed in the tradition of ox herding, found in traditional Far Eastern consciousness practice, the concept of anticipatory present moment (APM) serves as a basis for learning the cognitive skills that better enable navigation through turbulent times. In his conversation with guest interviewer, Kevin Lindsay, Hodgson pulls together many of the threads with which long-time listeners of this podcast will be familiar and builds upon the work of Robert Rosen, a currently somewhat neglected pioneer of the systems field whose ideas about anticipatory systems has much to offer us in our current turbulent times.
    This is the second episode of a two-part conversation with Hodgson, and in it we pick up our conversation on anticipatory systems and the role they play in ‘decision integrity’. Hodgson then talks about the second half of the book which focuses on “developing latent capacities beyond the analytical rational” and offers possibilities for more enlightened co-creation in these hyper-turbulent times.
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    • 45 min
    Anthony Hodgson, "Systems Thinking for a Turbulent World: A Search for New Perspectives" (Routledge, 2020)

    Anthony Hodgson, "Systems Thinking for a Turbulent World: A Search for New Perspectives" (Routledge, 2020)

    In the view of Anthony Hodgson, fragmentation of local and global societies is escalating, and this is aggravating vicious cycles. To heal the rifts, Hodgson believes we need to reintroduce the human element into our understandings – whether the context is civic or scientific – and strengthen truth-seeking in decision-making; and that the application of appropriate concepts and methods, will enable a switch from reaction to anticipation, even in the face of discontinuous change and high uncertainty. The intended outcome is the privileging of the positive human skills for collaborative navigation through uncertainty over the disjointed rationality of mechanism and artificial intelligence, which increasingly alienates us.
    In Systems Thinking for a Turbulent World: A Search for New Perspectives out from Routledge in 2020, Hodgson’s readers are introduced to concepts new to systems thinking that integrate systems thinking and futures thinking. Guiding readers through the unfolding of the ideas and practices with a narrative based on the metaphor of search portrayed in the tradition of ox herding, found in traditional Far Eastern consciousness practice, the concept of anticipatory present moment (APM) serves as a basis for learning the cognitive skills that better enable navigation through turbulent times. In his conversation with guest interviewer, Kevin Lindsay, Hodgson pulls together many of the threads with which long-time listeners of this podcast will be familiar and builds upon the work of Robert Rosen, a currently somewhat neglected pioneer of the systems field whose ideas about anticipatory systems has much to offer us in our current turbulent times.
    Our guest interviewer, Keven Lindsay, is a 25 year veteran of the software industry, currently with Adobe, who recently began graduate work in Transformative Leadership at the California Institute of Integral Studies where he encountered Dr. Hodgson and his work first hand. While it was in this recent coursework that he was formally introduced to systems thinking, Kevin is rapidly becoming a systems enthusiast—recognizing the significant potential for the application of systems thinking in addressing big issues ranging from customer experience (CX), to social justice reform and climate action. We look forward to having Kevin join the channel as a full-fledged co-host in the very near future.
     
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    • 49 min
    T. Fischer and C.M. Herr, "Design Cybernetics: Navigating the New" (Springer, 2019)

    T. Fischer and C.M. Herr, "Design Cybernetics: Navigating the New" (Springer, 2019)

    Those who have followed this podcast in the past, and those who follow developments in cybernetics in the present, will be no strangers to the name Ranulph Glanville. This brilliant, multiple-PhD holding polymath who co-mingled cybernetics with ethics, pedagogy, and, above all, design, has, through his voluminous body of ground-breaking papers, had a greater influence upon the field than, arguably, any scholar since Heinz von Foerster.
    At the 2015 Conference of the International Society for the Systems Sciences in Berlin, a group of self-proclaimed “Glanvillians” made up largely of former students and collaborators of Glanville, and a few interlopers like myself, met over a breakfast table at the Scandic Hotel, Potzdammer Platz, Berlin and, at the prompting of Thomas Fischer and Candy Herr, committed themselves to consolidating Glanville’s legacy and pointing the way to future extensions and investigations of his central claim that design is the practice of cybernetics and cybernetics is theory for design.
    The result is Design Cybernetics: Navigating the New (Springer) edited by Fischer and Herr. Featuring an eclectic blend of mid-career and senior scholars, the assembled chapters probe the vital relationship between conversation and design, the commitments of a radical constructivist epistemology, the virtues of being “out of control”, the embracing of error, and the seemingly paradoxical notion of getting “lost with rigour” across a wide array of artistic and scientific domains.
    As both the interviewer and a contributor to the book, I have, in the sprit of “walking our talk”, eschewed the erasure of error by editing and left, in full view, the meandering trail of a wandering and, at times, stumbling conversational journey featuring prolonged gaps in thinking, confusion between different articles by the same author, technical miscues, and even a pitched battle between my two cats, in order to model our commitment to process over perfection and personify Glanville’s favourite Samuel Beckett quote: “Try again, fail again, fail better.” I hope you find the stops along the way of this meandering journey as stimulating as I did.
    Thomas Fischer is a design researcher, epistemologist and cybernetician. He is a Professor and Director of Research at the Department of Architecture at XJTLU in Suzhou, China. Thomas is also a Visiting Associate Professor at the School of Design at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
    Christiane M. Herr is an architectural researcher and educator focusing on the areas of structural design, digitally supported design, radical constructivism, design pedagogy and traditional Chinese approaches to creative thinking. Christiane is a Senior Associate Professor at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in China, where she directs the Master of Architectural Design as well as the Bachelor of Architectural Engineering programmes.
     
     
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    • 1 hr 10 min
    Brian Greene, "Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe" (Random House, 2020)

    Brian Greene, "Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe" (Random House, 2020)

    Brian Greene is a Professor of Mathematics and Physics at Columbia University in the City of New York, where he is the Director of the Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics, and co-founder and chair of the World Science Festival. He is well known for his TV mini-series about string theory and the nature of reality, including the Elegant Universe, which tied in with his best-selling 2000 book of the same name. In this episode, we talk about his latest popular book Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe (Random House, 2020)
    Until the End of Time gives the reader a theory of everything, both in the sense of a “state of the academic union”, covering cosmology and evolution, consciousness and computation, and art and religion, and in the sense of showing us a way to apprehend the often existentially challenging subject matter. Greene uses evocative autobiographical vignettes in the book to personalize his famously lucid and accessible explanations, and we discuss these episodes further in the interview. Greene also reiterates his arguments for embedding a form of spiritual reverie within the multiple naturalistic descriptions of reality that different areas of human knowledge have so far produced.
    John Weston is a University Teacher of English in the Language Centre at Aalto University, Finland. His research focuses on academic communication. He can be reached at john.weston@aalto.fi and @johnwphd.
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    • 2 hrs
    Leslie M. Harris, "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies" (U Georgia Press, 2019)

    Leslie M. Harris, "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies" (U Georgia Press, 2019)

    Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies (University of Georgia Press, 2019), edited by Leslie M. Harris, James T. Campbell, and Alfred L. Brophy, is the first edited collection of scholarly essays devoted solely to the histories and legacies of this subject on North American campuses and in their Atlantic contexts. Gathering together contributions from scholars, activists, and administrators, the volume combines two broad bodies of work: (1) historically based interdisciplinary research on the presence of slavery at higher education institutions in terms of the development of proslavery and antislavery thought and the use of slave labor; and (2) analysis on the ways in which the legacies of slavery in institutions of higher education continued in the post–Civil War era to the present day.
    The collection features broadly themed essays on issues of religion, economy, and the regional slave trade of the Caribbean. It also includes case studies of slavery’s influence on specific institutions, such as Princeton University, Harvard University, Oberlin College, Emory University, and the University of Alabama. Though the roots of Slavery and the University stem from a 2011 conference at Emory University, the collection extends outward to incorporate recent findings. As such, it offers a roadmap to one of the most exciting developments in the field of U.S. slavery studies and to ways of thinking about racial diversity in the history and current practices of higher education.
    Today I spoke with Leslie Harris about the book. Dr. Harris is a professor of history at Northwestern University. She is the coeditor, with Ira Berlin, of Slavery in New York and the coeditor, with Daina Ramey Berry, of Slavery and Freedom in Savannah (Georgia).
    Adam McNeil is a History PhD student at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
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    • 59 min

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