A small elevator speech I shared on the OSLIST yesterday:
Self organization works by a combination of attractors and boundaries. Attractors are things that draw components of a system towards themselves (gravity wells, a pile of money left on the ground, an invitation). Boundaries (or constraints) are barriers that constrain the elements in a system (an atmosphere, the edges of an island, the number of syllables in a haiku)
Working together, attractors and boundaries define order where otherwise there is chaos. We can be intentional about some of these, but not all of them. Within complex systems, attractors and constraints create the conditions to enable emergence. What emerges isn’t always desirable and is never predictable, but it has the property of being new and different from any of the individual elements within the system.
Self-organization is where we get new, previously unknown things from.
Two things recently on the blog I connect with Chris. First was a few posts back on Snowden’s theory of change. This idea of small probes that begin to plot an alternative narrative has proven very useful in my early psychotherapy experiences. Narrative therapy, as it’s called, is very similar to what you were describing. Second, is this post and the reading of Ken Wilber’s work over the last few weeks has really helped me understand emergence, evolution of complexity, and other crazy stuff. It’s incredibly confusing stuff at times but then you see some very simple patterns. I think both posts remind me that one of the major hurdles here is our desire to know the predetermined outcome before we set out on the creative process. It’s such a natural urge, but also so limiting. There is a fearlessness to creative and emergent work- or better a required faith- that seems essential and counter cultural in a world of predictive logic models and data projections….
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